Loose Lips: Post election junkets, galas and fundraisers

Loose LipsDid Alaska feel a bit empty to you last week? A bit lighter? A bit less filled with, say, hot air? I felt it and I wasn’t even here. Neither were Rep. Craig Johnson and Sen. Kevin Meyer, who were in Phoenix for some government thing. Sen. Lesil McGuire was in Seattle for a meeting. House Majority Leader Charisse Millett was in D.C. Rep. Scott Kawasaki’s head was in Hawaii, where he arrived on Friday. Rep. Lynn Gattis was somewhere. And 11 Alaskans were in Oregon, for the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses meeting, including. Sen. Click Bishop and Charlie Huggins, Sen.-elect Bill Stoltze, and Reps. Mark Neuman and Wes Keller. Other Alaskans included ADF&G Director of Wildlife Conservation Doug Vincent-Lang, Kenai River Sportfishing Association Executive Director Ricky Gease and Safari Club International Veep Eddie Grasser. Surprise: They talked a lot about fishing and shooting things and the feds who were keeping them from doing so.

Sen. Hollis French was also out of town, on his own dime even, which merits its own entry because if there’s anybody who deserves a state junket during the Walker-Mallott transition it’s French, who’s handled everything impressive je ne sais quoi. Remember that French gave up his Senate seat to run for governor. Then, under pressure from the party and others, he gave up that bid to Byron Mallott. And then under pressure, he gave up his lite gov.’s bid to Bryon Mallott. And now he and Peggy are in Los Angeles, among other things, checking out the Warhol exhibit at MOCA, and likely thinking a lot about a certain ticket’s 15 minutes of fame, a phrase coined by Andy Warhol.

Wondering what former state Sen. Dave Donley’s been up to lately? Well, if you go to the Thursday Night Fights you’ll likely run into him. He’s a scorer at ringside. 

The ballroom at the Hotel Captain Cook was packed with a capacity crowd for the Howard Rock and Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala on Saturday evening. The emcees for the evening were Jeff Kinneeveauk from ASRC Energy and Tabetha Toloff with Alyeska Pipeline. Both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan were there along with newly elected gubernatorial ticket Bill Walker and Byron Mallott. Some of the other elected officials in attendance included NSB Mayor Charlotte Brower, Sen. Lesil McGuire and Rep. Neil Foster. Also spotted in the crowd: Catherine Stevens, Willie Hensley, Scott Jepsen, Sam Kito, Oliver and Annie Leavitt, John Tracy, Trond Erik Johansen, DJ Fauske, Elizabeth Medicine Crow, congressional candidate Forrest Dunbar, Margy Johnson, Ethan Schutt, Albert Kookesh, and Diane Kaplan. Dan Sullivan seemed to get the loudest ovation, Walker and Mallott a close second.

The legal community is buzzing with the news that Gov.-elect Bill Walker might be selling his law firm. I tried to confirm it, but only got, a “things are being worked out,” answer from him. If so, it would make sense. The firm includes members of Walker’s family, including his wife Donna and daughter Lindsay, and it’s hard to see how it could still function given the appearance at least of conflicts of interest, particularly since the firm’s big client in 2013 was Valdez. Besides, there’s a lot of speculation that his partner Craig Richards will be joining the administration.

Midnight Sun Republican Women’s Club founding member Hope Nelson passed recently. There will be a Celebration of Life in her remembrance Saturday, November 29 at 3:00 pm at The Bridge in Anchorage.

AIDEA Executive Director Ted Leonard has announced his retirement which will be official January 30, 2015.

On Wednesday evening, ENSTAR Natural Gas Company held a community reception at the Bridge Restaurant in Ship Creek, saying goodbye to out-going president Colleen Starring and welcoming the new president Jared Green. About 200 guests attended including Governor-elect Bill Walker; U.S. Senator-elect Dan Sullivan; BP’s Paul Quesnel: Dan Coffey; AIDEA Deputy Director Mark Davis and his wife Rep-elect Liz Vazquez; state Sen.-elect Mia Costello; Conoco’s Scott Jepson; Dan and Elaine Fauske; Frank McQueary; the witty and always stylish Michelle Scannell, Anchorage Assemblyperson Jennifer Johnson; Chris Birch; Rep.-elect Matt Claman; Tom Wright; Jeweler to the Stars George Walton; Mayor Dan Sullivan; Margy Johnson; Harry McDonald; Armstrong Oil and Gas’ Ed Kerr; Parnell commissioners Joe Balash and Curtis Thayer; Phil Steyer from Chugach Electric; Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux; Tina Pidgeon and Alex Von Wickman from GCI; Hal Ingalls with Denali Drilling; GOP political operative Ben Sparks; and, Miles Baker to name a few.

Thursday evening was Amy Demboski’s mayoral campaign kick-off at the Crowne Plaza. The showing was said to have been respectable. A few days later, she proved that she was ready for the tough game of Alaska politics by posting the following on Facebook:

(I)f you’ve been my friend for 5 minutes or 5 years, if you want to say something to me, just call. But, if you go on social media and make snarky comments about my IQ, physical attributes, my marriage, or my kids, well, to be blunt, you have crossed the line and don’t be surprised that I unfriend you because frankly, I don’t need a friend like that.

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Dan Coffey and Sen. Lesil McGuire, among others, spent the night on the streets to draw attention to the plight of homelessness and to raise money for covenant house.

It’s time for newbie government training: this weekend, Gov.-elect Bill Walker and Lt. Gov.-elect Byron Mallott went through state-sponsored ethics training. Freshman legislators will be heading to Juneau on Dec. 3 for new legislator orientation.

Former Alaska Democratic Party chair, and now UAS Chancellor, John Pugh will serve as the emcee for Gov-elect Bill Walker’s inauguration in Juneau on December 1st.

If anyone was wondering, yes the Walker – Mallott ticket has a campaign debt and yes you’ll have an opportunity to contribute. Tonight, Monday evening, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, in Palmer at the New Horizon Hanger you can join hosts John Lee, Steve and DeLana Johnson, Jim and Faye Palin, Verne and Bee Rupright along with a whole long list for of hosts for this celebratory fundraiser. If that date isn’t convenient, the next night from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Anchorage offices of the Associated General Contractors, there’ll be another event where you can contribute. It’s hosted by Joey Merrick, Dana Pruhs, Stephen McAlpine, Ralph Kibby, Meg Nordale, Dave Cruz, John MacKinnon, Mike Gallagher along with a gaggle of others. If you can’t make either of these, there will be others. Former Gov. Bill Sheffield is planning one in December.

Also Tuesday evening, several GOP leaders are hosting a fundraising event for Anchorage mayoral candidate Dan Coffey at the Petroleum Club. Additionally, the political rumor mill churns around City Hall. People are saying that Patrick Flynn may be getting close to throwing his hat in the ring for the mayor’s race.

The rumors about personnel around the Walker transition continue to swirl: Here are some more names that people say are going to end up in the new administration: Albert Kookesh, a former legislator and chair of Sealaska is rumored to be tapped to serve the governor as a rural affairs advisor. Amanda Ryder’s name is being talked about to run OMB. Some are now saying that Ron Clark might be the new governor office’s legislative director. And there’s still a lot of speculation about Val Davidson becoming the new DHSS commissioner.

Rep-elect Jim Colver (R – MatSu) has hired David Scott to work on his staff.  Colver and Scott worked together previously, both as staff, in Sen. Donny Olson’s office.

Two of the young turks who helped shape Alaska’s Senate race have been shipped off to the hot race that wasn’t in Louisiana. Kyle Kohli, who worked Alaska for the RNC and Fred Brown, who was a Mead Treadwell staffer before he got plucked to Arkansas, are said to be roomies.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


10 thoughts on “Loose Lips: Post election junkets, galas and fundraisers

  1. Katherine

    You are spot on, Bethany. I notice how folks like Billiam have only their ability to attack by way of personal feelings, not on what Amy is running on. I saw Amy’s fb posting and thought “atta girl.” She is a strong and responsible person. Since she has been on the Assembly, I have been very impressed with her attention to detail. She will make a great Mayor.

  2. Bethany

    Billiam, Amy’s main worry certainly isn’t “what people say about her on Facebook.” The comment that Amanda references wasn’t even on Amy’s campaign FB page; it was on her personal FB page. If you’d read her campaign FB page or website, you’d know that the issues that she is focused on are the same ones that thousands of Anchorage residents care about. Amy is one of the toughest politicians I know. She can handle it on Facebook and any other way that you and others want to bring spite and hate. She can definitely handle it.

  3. Billiam

    Amanda–when do you end your sycophantic adulation of Dan Sullivan? You did all you could to get him elected. Do we have to live through six years of you gushing about him at every turn? If so, please let me know so I can stop reading your column.

    Amy–you need to reevaluate your campaign. If your main worry is what people say about you on Facebook, you aren’t ready to run for Mayor. This isn’t 8th grade–we have many serious issues in our city and this is what you’re worried about? How about this–tell us what you’ll do to control the out-of-control scene that is our downtown after bars close? What will you do to replace the $6 million in revenues when you take away the vehicle registration? What are you going to do with the ever present gun shots that happen in every neighborhood in Anchorage? Being Mayor is tough. People will get mad at you and they will yell at you and they will call you names. If you can’t handle it on Facebook you won’t make it in the office.

  4. Lynn Willis

    I appreciate the point made by ‘akmom’. “Caucus” is a word that is seldom used outside the political realm; therefore, did this attendance at the “National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses” have any purpose that could have qualified for the expenditure of public funds either directly or indirectly? This might be a question to ask of these legislators (and their peers) at the upcoming pre-session legislative constituent meetings just before they start bemoaning the fiscal situation and reminding us how we must all share the burden of reduced available funds.
    Also, in this world of political correctness, why no female legislative attendees at he “Sportswomen’s Caucuses” national gathering?

  5. Anonymous

    “Either the state paid for the trip[,]or the lobbyist did.”

    Would you do please your due diligence and investigate the legislators’ financial disclosure reports, uncover who paid for the trip, then report back to us in a month? Although, since you’re blindly accusing lobbyists of funding legislative trips, you’re surely all over it. Thanks.

  6. akmom

    Didn’t Donley lose his last election over domestic violence accusations? I remember a quote from him “I didn’t hit her that hard.”. Seems like there were signs bumper stickers?

  7. akmom

    Nice to see that 11 of our self proclaimed fiscally conservative legislators could make time in their busy schedules for a junket… oh sorry important fact finding trip. Either the state paid for the trip or the lobbyist did. Not sure which disturbs me more.

  8. Robin

    Just hoping that the Walker-Mallott administration picks a better DHSS commissioner than Parnell had. Under the Parnell administration, the DHSS was virtualy dysfunctional with mean-spirited leadership. The departmment was bad for both the provider community and the community it served. Maybe if the commissioner spent as much time trying to fix the department’s computer glitches as he did traveling and looking for work, the problem would have gotten fixed. For the record, I’m not surprised that no one stepped up to hire the commissioner given his gross incompetence. As you reported, it didn’t take the health transition task force long to come to the conclusion that the DHSS needed new and better leadership. Maybe 2 minutes? Yet, Parnell never figured it out in six years.

  9. Oscar

    Hopefully they will dig a little deeper for DHSS Commissioner for someone with administrative experiemce for the State’s largest department,

  10. Joe Doyle

    I guess I’ll have to stop at the ATM on my way to Palmer if I want to be considered for a job in the Walker administration.

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