Thursday began as a very good day for U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan. Roll Call, an inside-the-beltway publication owned by Congressional Quarterly, wrote a story about his campaign, highlighting that he worked for Condoleezza Rice in the Bush administration, his time in Alaska as the state’s attorney general and as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. It mentioned his service in the Marine Corps, and that he was deployed as a reservist to Afghanistan this summer.
“Sullivan’s résumé reads straight out of a Republican textbook,” Roll Call wrote.
Most importantly for Sullivan’s campaign, the article suggested that Sullivan might be out fundraising Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller, his opponents in the Republican primary.
And then another story appeared about Sullivan. This one was in Brietbart.com, an online conservative news site that was founded by the late Andrew Breitbart, who had been a staunch tea party and Sarah Palin supporter. The site has not been known for always getting things right and does not shy from controversies. The headline on this piece read, “Dan Sullivan, Alaska U.S. Senate candidate, ran office that let child molester free.”
An alternative headline read: “Dan Sullivan AK US Senate child molester coddler.” (That alternative headline appears to have been written for search engine optimization purposes, or for getting as many hits as possible. Hit baiting, they call it in the business.)
The article indicates that as attorney general, Sullivan was responsible for the heinous 2013 double murder and rape of a 2-year-old and 92-year-old in Anchorage.
Mike Anderson, Dan Sullivan’s spokesperson, said that the Brietbart article “is riddled with inaccuracies and reads like a political hatchet job.”
Indeed, the author appears to be using the crime to score political points against Sullivan by exploiting the victims and playing loose with the facts.
Jerry Andrew Active is accused of committing the crimes 12 hours after he was released from jail, where he was serving time for a parole violation. An error in the state database system likely was the result in the light sentence he received for a 2009 rape, after which he was let go, sent back to jail, and let go again.
Sullivan was attorney general during the time that Active received his “soft” sentence as a result of a plea deal. However, the initial charge for the 2009 rape happened months before Sullivan took the job, and the problem with the database pre-dated his tenure. According to a report done on the case by the current attorney general, the database error took place on Jan. 30, 2009, when Sullivan was on duty with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Sullivan wasn’t appointed as Alaska’s AG by Sarah Pain until June, 2009, five months after Active was charged, and was the DNR commissioner when Active committed his crimes.
Additionally, it was the database maintained by the Alaska Department of Public Safety that made the error on Active’s record; not the one maintained by the Department of Law, as the article states.
According to the Department of Law, “It is unreasonable to suggest that anyone could have predicted the crimes Mr. Active is presently charged with committing over the Memorial Day weekend in Anchorage this year.”
It’s unclear from whom or where the writer of the article, Charles Johnson, is getting his information. According to Sullivan’s press secretary, they played phone tag in late October or early November, but were never able to touch base.
The piece also appeared on Joe Miller’s website, the content of which is primarily culled from other conservative sources and websites. Miller’s campaign spokesperson did not return a call requesting comment.
Fred Brown, a spokesperson with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s campaign responded to a request for comment via email. “This was a very tragic event,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims families for this senseless and heinous act of violence. I sincerely hope that the policies in the Attorney General’s office that let this criminal out onto the streets have been reviewed and addressed to ensure that something like this never happens again.”
During Sullivan’s time as AG, there were about 47,287 criminal cases handled by the Department of Law. About 12,155 of these cases were felonies, according to the department. His campaign said that his number one priority was “protecting Alaskans, particularly the most vulnerable.”
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