Democrats respond to Senate majority hiring Pierre

On Friday morning, the Alaska Democratic Party put out a release about the Alaska Senate Majority’s hiring of McHugh Pierre on the communications team. Pierre was formerly the civilian deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, The release was basically a reminder that Gov. Sean Parnell asked for Pierre’s resignation in the midst of the ongoing National Guard scandal, after it was reported that Pierre allegedly intervened for a soldier and a friend accused of sexual harassment and assault.

Senate President Kevin Meyer made the decision to hire Pierre, who will be paid around $30,000 for a four-month contract, less than what the Democrats say in the press release. Pierre will be replacing a full-time staffer in the majority’s communications office.

Meyer defended the hire. He interviewed several people and Pierre was the most qualified, he said. Pierre told Meyer that he did nothing wrong, and Meyer believes that “everyone is innocent until proven guilty.” He stressed that Pierre is on an at-will contract that can terminate at any time.

Meyer’s chief of staff, Suzanne Armstrong, is good friends with Pierre. Pierre’s wife. Lauren, is Sen. Anna MacKinnon’s chief of staff. Meyer’s own wife worked with Pierre at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Pierre’s father-in-law was the deputy commissioner of DMVA before moving to the Alaska Aerospace Corp.

Meyer admitted that Pierre was well known to many in the Capitol building, but he said that it made the hire easier. “I felt comfortable hiring him. I knew his talents and abilities, especially as a communications person,” he said.

Here’s the Democrat’s release:

Alaska’s Republican Senate caucus will pay McHugh Pierre approximately $10,000 per month during the upcoming legislative session even after Pierre had to resign in disgrace over the National Guard scandal.  Pierre got caught protecting his high school friend from punishment after that individual used drugs and committed sexual harassment during his tenure as a National Guard recruiter.

GOP Senator Kevin Meyer said there’s “no indication Pierre did anything wrong,” despite reports to the contrary.  In the fall, Alaska media reported on Pierre’s decision to defend a perpetrator of sexual harassment and other misconduct.  When Pierre resigned in September, the Alaska Dispatch News reported:

“Documents obtained by Alaska Dispatch News show that Pierre inserted himself into one of the inquiries into the alleged sexual misconduct of a married recruiter, an incident of which Parnell’s office was aware.

The recruiter, a high school classmate of Pierre’s from the late 1990s, was also accused of sexual harassment, of mistreating junior enlisted soldiers, of possessing steroids and committing assault. In June 2014, Cindy Sims, a senior staffer and close aide to the governor, received an email detailing the situation with this and dozens of other soldiers.

The document notes that this soldier, whose name has been withheld since no criminal charges were ever filed, was recommended for removal from his full-time position and to be separated from the service with “other than honorable discharge.” Nothing came of it, apparently, after Pierre gave input to Katkus and the assistant adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Leon Bridges.

After Pierre came forward, Bridges took over the case. He was to impose an action of General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand and a rank reduction of one grade, but the process — convening a board to review the discipline recommendations and then take action — has not moved forward.

State Senator Kevin Meyer announced the hire.  Like Pierre, Meyer’s wife worked closely with Tom Katkus during Katkus’ tenure as National Guard TAG.  Meyer has said that Pierre won’t work on National Guard issues, yet Pierre himself said that he’d be happy to offer his “insights” to legislators about the Guard scandal.”


23 thoughts on “Democrats respond to Senate majority hiring Pierre

  1. anonymous

    With this hire, Kevin Meyer extends a hearty middle finger to all Alaskans, particularly those who serve.

    F-You Alaska.

  2. Roger That

    We threw Governor Parnell out because of his mishandling of the NG issues. I hope Alaskans do the same thing to Senator Meyer. His culpability and insensitivity to the men and women that serve in uniform absolutly is unacepatble.

  3. AH HA

    To paint the Republicans with the ‘unwilling to make cuts’ brush is sort of disingenuous in that for many years the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats in Alaska have been perfectly willing to spend vast amounts of money without even the blink of an eye. The only real argument between the two parties has always really been over where the money is to be spent, not whether or not it will be spent. Even Governor Walker who is trying to claim he is taking the high road regarding spending has so far shown an unwillingness to make any significant cuts. Yes, he has made some cuts but they don’t amount to more than a drop in the bucket as far as attaining a balanced budget goes. Our current Legislators are following in true form… Both sides decrying our massive budget imbalance in one breath while in the next proposing new programs and offering no explanation as to how this would be paid for.

    Jay Hammond was probably entirely correct when he wrote that he thought that while doing away with the State income tax, “certainly benefited a number of Alaskans financially in the short term, with it the state embarked on the road to what I term “uneconomic development.” This is development that does not generate sufficient new revenues for the state to offset the cost of providing services to the attendant population increase or for managing, enforcing, or enhancing resources being exploited.”

    He further comments that he had not vetoed the bill after it passed and that he had regretted that every since and that his failure to veto the bill aided in “creating a condition that not only encouraged legislators to spend as if there were no tomorrow, but also ultimately placed the Permanent Fund in harm’s way. Though a veto would not have stopped income tax repeal, it might have caused many more Alaskans to recognize the folly of abolishment.”

    “Many Alaskans believe we are spending beyond our means. I agree. To correct that, you either reduce spending or increase your means. By repealing the income tax we did precisely the
    opposite. We reduced our means and severed the major constraint on runaway spending: the cord that attaches the public’s purse to the fingers of politicians. No longer requiring them to tweak that cord each time they wish to increase spending, it sailed into the stratosphere. In the process we also promoted “uneconomic development” by failing to extract enough new revenue to offset costs imposed on the state by new development and its attendant population increases. Instead we shoveled in “one-time-only” oil dollars to pay for them.”

  4. Moderate Independent Voter

    Over the years, I have pretty much voted for Republicans with a few rare exceptions. However, this silly move is so irritating that it makes the Unity ticket and the Democrats look a lot better and worth considering. I’m sick of the fiscal conservative jibberish when thry turn around and do the oppositte.

    All of the Republicans are involved and responsible. They act like a herd of scared mice.

  5. Alaska Cod Piece

    Good suggestion, Northern O.
    Pierre should be tasked with spinning this story to try and make Meyer and the Republican Senate ‘Cork-us’ look better. An impossible task but Pierre can start earning his hand out.

  6. Palmer resident

    I am astounded that my Senator, or for that matter any of the Republican Senators, have not spoken out against this ridiculous waste of money and cronyism. Where are my legislators? Where is Charlie Huggins, Bill Stoltze and Mike Dunleavy. These guys always claim to be fiscal conservatives. If so, now is the time to speak up. This is wrong on so many fronts:
    1. Waste of state money.
    2. More press people are not needed.
    3. Parnell dismissed this individual for cause related to the National Guard scandal. Rehiring him now is an afront to the men and women serving.
    I hope my Valley legislators speak up and demand that he not be hired or dismissed or whatever.

  7. Vet

    The Senate majority has shown disrespect to the men and women in uniform. Shame on Sen. Meyer’s leadership and the cowards that followed him. Real leadership requires speaking out some times.

  8. John Millon

    Kevin Meyer is an idiot. ‘John Q Public’s’ remark is spot on: Meyer doesn’t know the difference between a rock and a boomerang.

    McHugh Pierre was fired because he abused his power by protecting a criminal. Then he went on to force military chaplains into silence so the crimes, and the national guard’s reaction to the crimes, would never be dealt with by the legislature or authorities.

    Did the commissioner order McHugh to silence the chaplains??

    This is bullshit.

  9. John Millon

    Kevin Meyer is an idiot. ‘John Q Public’s’ remark is spot on: Meyer doesn’t know the difference between a rock and a boomerang.

    McHugh was fired because he abused of power by protecting a criminal. Then he went on to force military chaplains into silence so the crimes, and the national guard’s reaction to the crimes, would never be dealt with by the legislature or authorities.

    Did the commissioner order McHugh to silence the chaplains??

    This is bullshit.

  10. birchstick

    Walker should write a letter to Meyer, Chenault, and other R leadership that they need to start moving bills through committees faster. No matter that the session hasn’t even started…

  11. Sandy G.

    For me, it doesn’t matter if they hired Elmer Fudd, Sponge Bob Squarepants or McHugh Pierre. The peronality or the individual is secondary (although Pierre makes the choice worst). The REAL issue is that Meyer is a hypocrite and insensitive to the state’s financial plight. Two weeks ago, he wrote a letter to Walker urging a hiring freeze. Then, turns around and hires another press person. How many pree people does the organization need ? The Republicans can never convince me they are fiscal conservatives. It was Hevin Meyer and Bill Stoltz3, as Finance Chairs, that got us in this mess in the first place. Their reward was being selected as senate preseident (Meyer) and elevated to the senate (Stoltze). The onther Republicans are culpable too. Not one has spoken out.

  12. Pat Race

    I’ve known McHugh since college and he’s always been a stand-up guy. He’s friendly and easy to like and if he did anything wrong here, it sounds like it was in the process of sticking his neck out for someone.

    I’d like to think he wouldn’t intentionally obfuscate justice.

    I hope we’ll soon have an empowered third party appointed to do a serious investigation of the National Guard.

  13. Anonymous

    Many Alaskans still remember a case where “Senator Stevens deserved to be innocent until proven guilty”.

    A lot of these comments have an ADN commentor feel to them.

  14. Lynn Willis

    See, this was supposed to stay under the radar and just might have in any other year; however, Alaskans are becoming aware of what has been done to us by this crowd.
    Senator Meyer wrote to Governor Walker demanding a hiring freeze to control spending. Governor Walker responded first by throwing all of the Senator’s pet rocks out of the boat and now gets to paint Senator Meyer as the poster child for “do as I say not what I do” in a fiscal crisis.
    Kevin Meyer needs to learn the difference between throwing stones and boomerangs in a political fight.

  15. John Q. Public

    Wow. I’ve always thought Kevin Meyer is a decent and honorable guy, and still do. However, the other day, he told the ADN that “he was unfamiliar with a news report detailing Pierre’s involvement in the Alaska National Guard inquiry.” While that may or may not be technically true, the fact that his wife worked for Katkus and Pierre makes that statement irrelevant; unless the Meyer’s never discuss work at home,which would be unusual for couple with political positions, Meyerknew or should have k own exactly what the allegations are against Pierre- even if he was “unfamiliar with a news repor detailing Pierre’s involvement in the Alaska National Guard inquiry.”

    And Meyer’s statement that ” everyone is innocent until proven guilty” is astounding. While true, it means that he does know that there are serious – and possibly criminal” allegations about Pierrethat might lead to his indictment.

    Normally in such a circumstance, especially with a person who has already been “resigned” by the previous governor for his behavior, someone with such allegations would be suspended- not given another job. Senator Meyer should ask himself what it would take to not hire someone who is “innocent until proven guilty.” If allegations of potential coverup and/or obstruction of justice in sexual assaults relate matters isn’t enough to rethink a $10,000 month contract in times of budget deficits, what is?

    Allegations of child abuse? Child pornography? Selling heroin to first graders on the playground of their school? Senator Meyer, exactly what does it take to decide that allegations of Isco duct means that someone should not get a lucrative public contract until he allegations are sorted out?

  16. Indy

    Can someone explain to me how the Republicans can be so insensitive as to not see this as a problem ?

  17. Northern Observer

    Insider favors. To hell with Fiscal restraint. The Republican Senate is the epitome of bad behavior. Senator Meyer is in the running to be nominated to the Corrupt Bastards Club. I really thought he was better than this. Where’s Bill Stoltze ? He’s complicit by his silence. For Stoltze, it’ll be his revisionist history like it was on the Anchorage LIO. I guess the other Republicans are okay with it too. I hope that Democrats have a lot to say about this in the weeks ahead. Governor Walker looks good compared to the Senate Republican Majority. Looks like our Governor has taken the high road while the Senate Republicans swash around the sewers. A question for Senator Meyer: What kind og good adbice is your communications specialist, McHugh Pierre, giving you on how to handle this bone headed crisis? Hope he has more to offer later.

  18. JT

    Open Letter To Sen. Meyer :
    Why don’t you do yourself a favor and the state too by resigning your position. Session hasn’t even started and you are performing as the worst senate president in memory. You just don’t seem capable of understanding the differences between right and wrong. You look foolish writing the governor a letter urging a hiring freeze on non-essntial employees and then hiring yet another political flack to promote you. It is the height of hypocrisy.

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