Ads attack Begich for his stewardship as mayor

The National Republican Senate Committee is airing two new commercials that target Sen. Mark Begich’s time as mayor of Anchorage. Both star real Alaskans, such as Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Birch, Alaska Pasta Company owner Hope Nelson, Alaska Family Action’s Donald Ross, Downing Electric’s past president and shareholder Aaron Downing,  and Gary Bader. All focus on how much Begich spent during his tenure as mayor, statements that have been disputed by Begich’s campaign. (See those ads here and here).

Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove controlled super-PAC, also released an ad on Monday focusing on Begich’s time as mayor. It’s spending $850,000 to air it statewide. See that one below.

On Monday, the Begich campaign defended his time as mayor:

In 2003 Begich inherited a $33 million debt, which he turned around by working with the Anchorage Assembly and city employees. Begich’s financial stewardship earned Anchorage a “AA” bond rating and put the city in a strong position to withstand the nationwide recessions and stock market crash that devastated cities across the country.

Standard and Poor’s did give the city a AA bond rating and said that in 2008, the city, under Begich, had been well managed. However, it also relied on the state’s overall economic condition, which was largely unscathed from the “stock market crash that devastated cities across the country.” The city did lose millions in savings. But because oil prices were going through the roof,  an oil tax reform bill that was passed by Gov. Sarah Palin made sure the state was richer than it had ever been.

Begich had a lot of fans when he was mayor. But he faced a torrent of criticism and accusations of wrongdoing from his critics when he left that position in 2009 to become a senator. During the last months of his term, he pushed through the 2009 city budget and long-term labor contracts that critics say were too generous. Only a few weeks after he left, acting Mayor Matt Claman announced, to the surprise of much of the public and some members of the Anchorage Assembly, that the city was facing a $17 million budget shortfall.

Some accused Begich of fraud for not informing the Assembly of the city’s budget woes when passing the budget and the contracts. However, an independent report requested by the Assembly released in 2010 found that there was “no evidence whatsoever that there was any indication of fraud” or “diversion of funds,” according to news reports at the time.

However, the report, conducted by Florida-based MRW, said both the Begich administration and the Assembly failed to practice “prudent fiscal management” in 2008. It said, according to the ADN, that Begich’s administration failed to produce monthly financial reports to the Assembly, and it said that the Assembly shouldn’t have been making decisions without those reports.

It also said that Begich’s administration “dramatically overestimated how much money would be available in city savings accounts at year-end.”

Correction:  The original article said that Gary Bader in the ad was the Alaska Retirement Management Board CIO. That’s incorrect. This is a different Gary Bader.

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13 thoughts on “Ads attack Begich for his stewardship as mayor

  1. Sandra


    You raise a good point, Rural Alaskans bring quite a lot of $$ to Achorage through AFN and through shopping. AFN alone generates millions from rural Alaskans. When Begich was Mayor, he made people feel welcome in Anchorage and had a staff advisor on rural/Alaska Native issues. Of course that all came to an end with the new Mayor. Rural and Urban Alaska are intertwined and he acknowledged that.


    I lived in Anchorage for 38 years. Mayors have com and gone. The best mayor’s were George Sullivan, Tony Knowles and Rick Mystrom (Mystrom changed along the way and ended up being very diisappointing; however, early in his term, he did really well). Other mayor’s like Tom Fink, George Wuerch and Dan Sullivan were okay. Mark Begich was the worst. He was always blaming the city’s woes and failures on someone else. In closing, I have always questioned Begich’s integrity. Honesty is not a virtue you would ever associate with Begich.

  3. Mae

    Begich, as mayor, made Anchorage more Alaskan. He actually welcomed rural Alaskans. What a concept.
    Some of ya forget, the state coffers are filled with natural resources derived from rural Alaska.

  4. Janice

    We have such a high turnover in our population here, I believe that a lot of people don’t know how bad Begich was as Anchorage mayor. Glad these ads are coming out now reminding people how bad he was. The problems of his creation are still being paid for by city property owners with their tax dollars. Begich misrepresents, spins and lies constantly. Alaskans need to vote for someone new.

  5. Morris

    One thing that Mayor Begich instituted during his term was the “City of Lights.” It really made Anchorage a more beautiful place, especially in the winter months

  6. Anonymous

    The deficit Begich inherited was caused by the elimination of state revenue sharing, a dramatic increase in health plan costs and a decline in the dividend from the MOA trust. The deficits Begich left behind were of his doing – passing the richest contracts in city history in a recession, depleting the city’s operating reserves well below the legal requirements and making no attempt to curb spending – he left his successors a mess of his own creation.

  7. Ryan

    Begich was a terrible mayor. He traded the city’s resources for his personal political gain. Lest not we forget his good friend, Bill Bobrick, who was Mayor Begich’s favorite friend. Remember, he was the guy that Begich served as Best Man at his wedding because Bobrick was his bagman/fundraiser guy. Also remember, Bobrick went to jail. Begich’s tenure as mayor can be best described as giving the unions whatever they wanted at taxpayer expense. Begich’s public service seems to be all about his personal enrichment.

  8. Heidi

    The add only says at the end “NRSC is responsible for the content of this advertising.” Everyday folks have no idea what that means. You’d think it would be an FEC violation.

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