Monthly Archives: May 2014

RNC sues to start super-PAC

From the AP:

The Republican National Committee on Friday sued the Federal Election Commission in an effort to raise unlimited cash like super PACs do. The central committee, chairman Reince Priebus and Louisiana Republicans filed a joint lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking for permission to set up an independent account that could raise and spend potentially enormous sums of money to help federal candidates. Under the current rules, the RNC may only accept $32,400 each year from donors, and local-level parties are capped at $10,000.

First thoughts: If the challenge is successful, much of the money that’s going into super-PACS might go into parties, resulting in more party control and party discipline. Or not. The rich who give to super-PACS might have already gotten a taste of what it feels like to circumvent party hierarchy and bureaucracy and opt for direct message control. So, it might just mean that even more money will go into politics.


Mayor Dan calls Beltrami APOC complaint ‘de minimis’

AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami filed a complaint against Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Beltrami alleges that Sullivan violated campaigns laws.

In the complaint, Beltrami details how the municipal spokesperson, Lindsey Whitt, responded to comments Sullivan made at a candidates forum. He says that’s illegal.

Sullivan, who is running for lieutenant governor, compared being in a union to slavery earlier this month. Shortly thereafter, the NAACP demanded an apology, which Sullivan initially refused. Later that day, he capitulated, through Whitt, who issued a statement with that apology. Hence the complaint.

In an interview, Whitt said that she contacted city attorney Dennis Wheeler before responding, who gave her the go-ahead. It was an issue that affected the whole city she said. For that reason, she also responded to a comment that Sullivan made about college education programs.

“Education and labor relations are two important priorities for the administration,” Whitt said.

Further, the NAACP request for an apology was written to the mayor at the mayor’s office.

Part of the issue is that until recently, Sullivan didn’t have a campaign office and hadn’t hired campaign staff. In the last few days, he’s hired his brother Tim and has opened up an office in Midtown Anchorage.

When reached by phone, Sullivan called the complaint “de minimis.” He plans to make his case to APOC next week.

He said that these complaints will continue as the campaign heats up. “This is going to be a pattern. They’re trying to be irritating.”

He said that he’s run six campaigns and hasn’t once paid an APOC fine.

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On her birthday (!), Senate adopts Murkowski’s amendment to label ‘Frankenfish’

Today, Thursday, is Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s birthday, and according to a press release, she “received a memorable birthday present.” On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved of her amendment requiring that genetically-engineered salmon be labeled if the Food and Drug Administration makes the “wrong-headed” decision to approve it, the release said. The amendment will be in the 2015 Agriculture spending bill. Both Murkowski and Begich have been fighting the effort of a company called AquaBounty to genetically modify salmon to feed a hungry world. “Frankenfish,” they call it and they’ve had some success. Why Murkowski isn’t likewise fighting against genetically modified crops is another question saved for a day that isn’t her 57th birthday. And when she hasn’t just gotten a new, cute haircut. Behold:


Will historic Russia-China gas deal impact Alaska LNG project?

On Wednesday it was announced that Russia has signed a deal with China to supply the country with natural gas for 30 years. Russian gas company Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that the contract is worth about $400 billion. The gas will be shipped from Russia to China via a network of pipelines.

The deal has the potential to significantly impact Europe’s relationship with Russia and changes the power-dynamics between the United States and both Russia and China. Closer to home, people are questioning what, if any, impact that deal will have on getting Alaska gas to market.

Alaska is currently working on a plan with the big three producers—ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips—to build an 800-mile pipeline to carry gas from the North Slope to tidewater in Southcentral Alaska, where it would be liquefied and put on tankers headed to Asia markets. All told, the project is expected to cost up to $65 billion.

Larry Persily, the federal coordinator of Alaska gas pipeline projects, and a go-to gas analyst, doesn’t think that the Russia-China deal will have much of an effect on the project. “It’s not a death knell for Alaska LNG” he said.

For one, the focus has been on selling Alaska LNG to Japan and Korea. Secondly, China will still need gas, he said. But more than anything, price will dictate the viability of any LNG project. He said that the price envisioned for Alaska’s LNG will be competitive with what Russia is offering China.

It is, however, a reminder that we’re not the only ones selling gas, Persily said.

Interesting note: Gazprom’s Alexei Miller traveled to Alaska in October, 2008 to talk about Alaska’s gas. While in Alaska, Miller and his entourage met with ConocoPhillips executives, and with DNR Commissioner Tom Irwin and Deputy Commissioner Marty Rutherford. During the meeting, Miller predicted that a pipeline would never be built. He said that gas would eventually be put on tankers that, with the help of ice cutters, would carry gas through the Northeast passage.

Then-Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t make the meeting. She was on the presidential campaign trail.

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Dems outraged over Outside money in Senate race. Guess who’s funding Begich?

Money The Alaska Democratic Party sent out yet another press release, warning Alaskans that Outside interests and Outside money is trying to buy Alaska’s Senate seat for GOP candidate Dan Sullivan. This while U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign itself is awash in Outside money.

“Outside groups are attempting to force Ohio Dan Sullivan on Alaskans, but their Outside funding hasn’t translated into local support,” the statement said. The release followed on the heels of an announcement that Karl Rove’s group Americans Crossroads has reserved $5.5 million of post-primary TV time in Alaska. The NRSC’s independent expenditure arm booked another $2.2 million for September and October.

These announcements themselves followed an announcement that Begich’s super-PAC, Put Alaska First, was planning a $4 million media buy for the last eight weeks leading up to the election. Put Alaska First is nearly completely funded by the Senate Majority PAC. Recently the PAC reported it had receipts of $5.7 million from April 17th through April 30th. The major donor was the California environmentalist billionaire Thomas Steyer, who put $5 million in the PAC. Another noted, big name donor to the PAC is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is leading the charge for gun control.

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My latest crush: Juneau Police Department’s ‘Ask a Dispatcher’

The Juneau Police Department has a feature on its website called ‘Ask a Dispatcher,” where it answers such questions ranging from how to handle a bear snooping around in your trash, to what to do if you see a child left alone in a car. Below is one of the recent exchanges that caught my eye. Note: I know this is a diversion from politics, but it’s fun and we all need some of that sometimes.


I have a tenant who I want to evict. I am afraid he is going to get volatile when I serve the paperwork asking him to vacate the apartment. Is this something I can ask a policeman to be present for? The tenant is always intoxicated and owns at least three semi-automatic assault rifles. I find him very unpredictable.


Dear Juneau Resident,

Standing by for eviction notices to be given is not a service JPD offers for a couple of reasons, it would be a staffing burden and we would have to be careful of the legal exposure.

In your situation it might be wise to check with a civil attorney and see if certified mail or some other service, not in person, would satisfy the landlord tenant act. If the person refuses to leave and there is a safety concern you can ask the court for a writ of assistance to have police get involved physically.

Whenever the police get involved officers need to know they have legal justification if they end up having to restrain the person, physically remove them, take children, etc…that is why the court authorization is important. People often ask that officers just standby so nothing happens but officers have to think in terms of assuming something will happen and they will have to take action and justify that action.



Inspector General says no cover up in Alaska National Guard sex abuse allegations

The Inspector General of the Army sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday concluding that Alaska’s National Guard Adjutant General Tom Katkus and other Alaska National Guard officials followed protocol in dealing with allegations of sexual assault in the Guard.

The IG “did not identify concerns regarding sexual assault or sexual harassment reporting,” and Guard officials “did not cover up any reported sexual assault incidents.” The Department of Defense concurred. (Read the letter here.)

The letter said that the Guard had received reports of 11 alleged assaults and that it “promptly coordinated referrals of all incidents to Alaska law enforcement officials,” as protocol dictates. The letter says that Katkus took action in “only two cases upon which he could act.” One person was discharged as a result. Katkus “initiated the subject’s separation,” in the other.

Last June, Sen. Lisa Murkowski asked the Department of Defense inspector general to investigate after Guard chaplains had asked her to look into sexual harassment and assault in the Guard. The chaplains had also spoken to Gov. Sean Parnell, and later state Sen. Fred Dyson and independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker.

The letter was released by her office. However, the full report has not yet been released.

In recent months, allegations of sexual abuse in the Guard have swirled. Gov. Sean Parnell has asked another federal investigative arm of the Guard to look into the allegations. That report is expected to be forthcoming in the fall.

Here’s a statement by Murkowski on the IG letter she received on Wednesday.

Last June, two Alaska Army National Guard Chaplains asked me to look into some troubling allegations that the Adjutant General and other senior leaders were turning a blind eye towards the possibility of sexual assault within the National Guard.  I immediately relayed their concern in a letter to the Department of Defense Inspector General, calling for a review. The allegations were then forwarded to the Army Inspector General, who investigated them and informed my office that the accusations could not be substantiated following a diligent investigation including extensive interviews.

The Defense Department Inspector General reviewed and concurred with the Inspector General’s conclusion. My office has not received the full investigation report, so I am withholding from further comments until the Army provides it and I have the opportunity to fully review it.


McGee files to run for Costello’s seat: Oil will be watching.

Marty McGee, the tax assessor that Gov. Sean Parnell fired in January, has filed to run for Mia Costello’s House seat in West Anchorage. He switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat to do so. Liz Vazquez, David Nees, and Sherri Jackson have all filed letters of intent for the Republican primary.

McGee is not an oil industry ally and they will be watching this closely. Before being fired, McGee chaired the State Assessment Review Board and pushed for a much higher valuation of the pipeline, which resulted in the oil industry paying millions more in taxes than they would have otherwise. He’s also supporting the oil tax repeal. For more, read both KTVA’s Rhonda McBride and APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez stories.


Alaska’s Pruitt and Kreiss-Tomkins make Washington Post’s 40 under 40 list

Both 32-year-old House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, and 25-year-old Rep. Jonathon Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, made the Washington Post list of 40 people across the country who are under 40 years old and have made a name for themselves in politics outside of the Beltway. Following is the write-up on both. (Visit the Post website site for neat graphics and a photo of each.) The Washington Post said that it consulted more than 100 sources to come up with the names.

Lance Pruitt:

First elected to the Alaska legislature in 2010 at age 29, Pruitt became House majority leader just two years later. As others on this list show, that kind of quick rise isn’t unheard of in states with term limits, but Alaska doesn’t have any — making the accomplishment more impressive. He passed on a run for lieutenant governor this year, but Alaska Republicans expect him to be on the statewide ballot soon enough.

Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins:

Kreiss-Tomkins was elected to the Alaska legislature in 2012, defeating powerful House Finance Chairman Bill Thomas (R) by a mere 32 votes. He did so in a district that requires a candidate to do plenty of island-hopping to introduce himself, and Kreiss-Tomkins would often sleep on someone’s couch while awaiting a trip to the next round of glad-handing. And now that he’s in the Alaska House, Kreiss-Tomkins is already making a name for himself, recently spearheading a successful effort to recognize 20 Alaska Native languages as official state languages.


Loose Lips: Establishment finds its West Anchorage candidate, drafting Palin, Gattis nabs Bickford


  • Department of Revenue legislative liaison Alicia Egan is no longer working for Commissioner Angela Rodell. No word on where she went.
  • The Tea Party Leadership Fund has reported another $10,000 online media buy to encourage Sarah Palin to run in the upcoming Senate race. The group also spent $10,000 in April on its draft Palin campaign. Washington D.C. lawyer Dan Backer is the treasurer of the group, which as of February has raised $3.8 million this election cycle. Backer is also one of the lawyers behind the most recent Supreme Court decision to strike down a slate of campaign finance restrictions. Earlier this year the group sent out an email blast, claiming that Palin “has a better grasp on world politics, and she knows what it means to cherish and protect our American freedoms far better than THE MAN WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE LEADING THE FREE WORLD.” What the group didn’t say: “SHE’S HAVING FUN WITH REALITY TV AND HAS A GREAT GIG RAISING MONEY FOR HER PAC WHICH MOSTLY PAYS HER TO RAISE MORE FUNDS FOR HER PAC. RUN FOR SENATE? WHY?”

Upcoming Events:

      1. May 22: 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Brats, beans, and beer for the Alaska Dems at the home of Allison Mendel and Marge Kaiser, 938 David Place at West. 10th Ave
      2. May 24: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm. Alaska Republican Assembly Freedom Fair and Convention, Menard Sports Center, Wasilla. Featured speakers include: Arizona’s Sheriff Mack, Senator Ted Cruz’s father Rafael and Nevada’s Sharron Angle. Glen Biegel will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Amanda Coyne will be taking notes.
      3. May 26: 2:00 – 4:00 pm. Dave Talerico for state House ‘Meet and Greet’ at the Denali park Cafe, Cantwell.
      4. May 31:  5:00 – 8:00 pm. Summer picnic and pig roast for Gov. Sean Parnell, sponsored by the Capital City Republican Women at the home of Steve and Lisa Messerschmidt, Lena Cove in Juneau.
      5. June 8:  12:00 – 4:00 pm. Union Solidarity Picnic, Anchorage Park Strip.
  • Rep. Mark Nueman aide, Cathy Tilton, is expected to file any day for Rep. Bill Stoltze’s House seat. Word is that Beth Fread, a Palmer realtor and past president of the Valley Republican Womens’ Club, has agreed to be her campaign manager.
  • Eagle River native and Nome gold miner Andrew C. Lee has filed a letter of intent to run for lite gov. as a Libertarian. Lee is perhaps best known in reality TV circles for building the gold dredge called “The Edge,” which was featured in season 2 and 3 of Bering Sea Gold.
  • Rep. Lynn Gattis’ campaign has contracted with the adorable, smart Dani Bickford, who has the most adorable baby ever, to help coordinate campaign fundraising.
  • Palmer Mayor DeLena Johnson has hired Anchorage-based political consultant and pollster Marc Hellenthal to direct her campaign bid for the open Valley Senate seat. She’s running against Rep. Bill Stoltze, who’s hired Hackney & Hackney to work his campaign. Before it’s over, expect some bruises among all involved.
  • Matt Fagnani, who is no stranger to Alaska’s business community, has filed a letter of intent to run for Rep. Lindsey Holmes’s seat in West Anchorage. Holmes announced that she’s stepping down to work back in the private sector. I’m told that she endorsed Fagnani, but she hasn’t returned calls to confirm. As of March, Fagnani was the executive director of Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium and previously the vice president of business development at the Pebble Partnership. He’s the “establishment” candidate. Anand Dubey, who is also running in the GOP primary, doesn’t have much establishment support, particularly not that of Randy Ruedrich. However, Dubey has been gathering “grassroots support” which in Republican circles has become code for “tea party support” which has become code for “people who don’t wear ties to work.” One of the two will face Democrat Matt Claman in the general.

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Democratic congressional candidate Dunbar’s new creative webad

Below is Democratic congressional candidate Forrest Dunbar’s most recent web ad, which, like his previous one, is an attention-grabber. Dunbar is running against Rep. Don Young, the longest serving Republican in Congress. In the last ad, Dunbar played off of the 1980s rock song, “Your Love.” In this one, Dunbar aims a gun at what has been known as Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which Rep. Don Young supported and which Dunbar has previously written about. It’s always hard to find a Democrat to run against Young, and from his resume at least, Dunbar looks pretty impressive. He is a former clerk for Sen. Frank Murkowski. He’s been in the Peace Corps, has a Yale Law degree, a master’s from Harvard Kennedy School, is a first lieutenant in the Alaska National Guard, and, as the ad demonstrates, has good aim. The ad will remain on YouTube for now. As of March, Dunbar raised $42,740, and has about $20,000 cash on hand. As of March, Young had about $695,000 on hand. Dunbar’s campaign has recently written to Young’s campaign, asking to set a schedule for debates.


Mallott and Begich will team to hire 52 new staffers in rural Alaska

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott’s campaign manager said on Monday night that Mallott’s campaign will be coordinating with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign, and that the two of them collectively will hire 52 new, paid staffers in rural Alaska. Thirty of those will be full time positions, Mary Halloran, the campaign manager said, and the remaining 22 will be part time.

The “coordinated campaign,” as the Democrats call it, will also open up field offices in the hub cities of Bethel, Nome, Dillingham and Barrow, Halloran said.

It’s unclear as of yet who will pay for what.

Halloran told a group convened for the first gathering of “Alaska Women for Mallott” that putting those resources in rural Alaska allows more time and energy to be put into working the rail belt, where the majority of Alaska’s population resides.

Begich won by about 4,000 votes in 2008 against the late Sen. Ted Stevens. Even though Stevens spent much of his career focused on helping rural Alaska, Begich was particularly strong in the region. And the campaign is obviously betting on the fact that teaming up with Mallott, who is an Alaska Native, will help both candidates.

Mallott himself wasn’t at Monday night’s event. He was at a funeral of a family friend.

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New attack ad against Senate candidate Sullivan ‘a stretch’

As expected, GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan’s role in the controversial bill HB 77 is the subject of a new attack ad by Put Alaska First, the pro-Begich super-PAC. Sullivan, as DNR commissioner, was one of the authors of the bill. Had it passed last legislative session, it would have revised Alaska’s water and permitting process to benefit mining and other commercial interests and would have given the DNR commissioner substantially more authority to issue permits on public lands. And while it’s true that Alaska’s permitting system is notoriously arduous, it’s also true that some in Alaska like it that way. The bill was killed amid public outcry. That said, there is nothing in the bill that related directly to hunting, said Deputy Director of DNR Wyn Menefree. He called the tie between the bill and moose hunting, “a stretch.”


Loose Lips: Anti-pot group gets dough, Wasilla shoots birds, and Fagan returns

  • Gov. Sean Parnell, with the help of the Midnight Sun Republican Women’s Club, hosted a big campaign headquarters open house on Saturday afternoon. It was, in a word, wholesome: kids, balloons, Miss Alaska, ice cream and a vanilla almond cake with cream cheese butter cream lovingly baked by Robin Phillips. All told, about 200 showed.
  • Gov. Sean Parnell filed for re-election at the Division of Elections in Anchorage on Monday at 12:00 p.m.
  • New RNC Alaska team: Last fall, I reported that Michael Shirley was on the ground in Alaska as the RNC’s state operative. His focus in the last months was on the East Anchorage Assembly race, which didn’t really work out well for Adam Trombley, the Republican in the race. Now Shirley’s gone and a new team of RNC operatives is on the ground, headed, people say, by Greg Bailor, who was most recently the RNC state director for Nevada.

Upcoming events:

      1. May 19th, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Women for Mallott Kick-off at Mallott for Governor campaign headquarters located at 505 West Northern Lights Blvd., Anchorage. (This one is interesting enough to draw me out of my cave.)
      2. May 19th, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell for Senate fundraiser at Turkey Red in Palmer. Co-hosted by former Rep. Lynn Gattis staffer Erick Cordero, and state Sen. Lesil McGuire’s campaign manager Harmony Shields, among others.
      3. May 21st, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Dan Sullivan for Lt. Governor Fundraiser at the home of Larry and Wendi Partusch, 900 Botanical Heights Circle, Anchorage.
      4. June 5th, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Fundraiser for Reps Gabrielle LeDoux and Mia Costello at Le Mex off Diamond Blvd., Anchorage.
  • In some places they golf. In Wasilla, they shoot things. All in all a perfect place for Saturday’s Outdoor Heritage Foundation’s charity shoot. Who knew that Rep. Lynn Gattis has such aim? She hit 75 out of 100 birds, beating former special ops Senate President Charlie Huggins. Rep. Don Young was there and was reported to be impressed with Gattis’ shooting, too. Sen. Cathy Giessel hit the fewest birds, but she got an “A” for effort. Other legislators that participated in the event included Reps. Craig Johnson, Eric Feige and Dan Sadler. Kevin Sweeney showed representing Sen. Lisa Murkowski. And where there’s guns, the Safari Club president and lobbyist Eddie Grasser will follow.
  • The anti-pot folks got their first big donation from Chenega Corp, which is giving $25,000 to fight against the pot legalization initiative. The group that’s getting the dough is calling itself Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2 Campaign. Wait for it… BM² for short? “Rural Alaska will be disproportionately harmed if the initiative passes, and we have a duty to protect our communities,” Chenega said.
  • As a reminder of a lost friend, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign is putting Stephen Gingrich’s initials on 4 x 8 signs. Gingrich was a dedicated volunteer who always put up the “big signs” in Anchorage for races large and small, and then he took them down when races were over.  He passed away in a tragic accident last year and he is sorely missed.
  • Deborah Bitney, the administrative services director for Alaska Gasline Development Corp. is leaving to pursue other professional interests. Deborah is wife of lobbyist and former Palin staffer John Bitney.
  • Former KFQD talk show host, Dan Fagan, who has been spending his time talking in front of a mic in the lesser state of California, is heading back to Alaska and is looking to get back into radio. He’s supposedly picked up some bad habits in the land of milk and honey. He eats better, for one, and has shed some pounds. And even more disturbing: he’s supposedly kinder. As we all know, there’ a fix for that. It’s called Alaska. Anyway, word has already gotten around and on Monday, he got a call from Sen. Mark Begich, congratulating him on his imminent return. This even though there were few in Alaska that were harder on Begich during his time as mayor of Anchorage and in his run for Senate. There’s a lesson in there…


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Quote of the day: RIP Miss Beazley, 2004-2014

From former President George W. Bush’s Facebook page, on the passing of Miss Beazley:

This weekend our beloved dog, Miss Beazley, was put to rest after a battle with lymphoma. She was a source of joy during our time in Washington and in Dallas. She was a close companion to her blood relative, Barney. And even though he received all the attention, Beazley never held a grudge against him. She was a guardian to our cats, Bob and Bernadette, who — like Laura and I — will miss her.