Parnell speaks directly to the public about National Guard scandal

I have in the past been critical of Gov. Sean Parnell for his seeming lack of leadership on a whole host of issues, including his handling of the National Guard scandal. But the video below, where Parnell talks directly to the public about the situation, is much needed and long overdue. I don’t know how he could have handled the situation differently, though I suspect there were better ways. (I defer to Lynn Willis on this.) And I don’t know if the current course he is on to fixing it is the right one. But I do know that, using his words, this is turning into a political witch hunt. (The countless, breathless press releases sent out by the Democrats are just one indication of this.) Parnell might deserve this. But the innocent people who are being swept up in the mix don’t. Nor do the victims of the abuse.


38 thoughts on “Parnell speaks directly to the public about National Guard scandal

  1. Sexual Assault Survivor

    Glad to know he has friends willing to overlook his bad decisions. He will need friends like that.

  2. Sexual Assault Survivor

    Any reporter being stonewalled is only going to go harder after the answer. The Parnell administration would make a great case study in how to look guilty, whether you are or not. I know several out of state and national reporters who have said that he interviews like a lobbyist. That is not a good thing for a politician, especially not one in the middle of a scandal.

  3. Sexual Assault Survivor

    Reporters don’t print talking points. That’s why politicians pay for political ads and why PR people make more than reporters. Reporters are supposed to point out the man behind the curtain, not reprint the things that a politician wants to have the story be. After all, Nixon would prefer to be remembered as the guy who went to China. He might have been, if Watergate hadn’t been a big story.

    You can get your news many places, and if you only want Parnell’s perspective, he has a campaign website that is happy to serve it to you.

  4. Sexual Assault Survivor

    I don’t care how much you dislike someone, the minute you refer to a woman as an “old cow,” you lose any credibility with me.

    Do you care about any of the victims of sexual assault? What if it was your wife, sister or daughter? Would waiting years for a response be acceptable then?

    Sometimes the rape culture in Alaska is so blatant, I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone.

  5. Lynn Willis

    I give much more credit for the Cook Inlet recovery to Mayor Dan Sullivan and other local leaders for raising the concern and to a few key legislators for acting on that alarm then I would credit Parnell. Then again, how much state revenue has this recovery generated while my natural gas costs have just increased 48% on an annualized basis?
    Perhaps we don’t hear about the accomplishments of the last five years because there simply is an absence of “anything positive that might reflect well on this administration” (except promises).

  6. Lynn Willis

    I agree. Riseable:(adj): 1. able or inclinded to laugh 2. arousing laughter; FUNNY 3. of or relating to laughter.

  7. Jon K

    You haven’t – this is an unfair attack. You give kudos to all candidates and you call bullshit on all candidates. I think you said at one point that you could support this ticket but you had some reservations that Walker’s Palinesque populism may not be what we need right now. But the idea that you are a cheerleader for Walker is risible.

  8. Jon K

    You haven’t – this is an unfair attack. You give kudos to all candidates and you call bullshit on all candidates. I think you said at one point that you could support this ticket but you had some reservations that Walker’s Palin like populalism may not be what we need right now. But the idea that you are a cheerleader for Walker is risible.

  9. Jon K

    We’ll said S. radical. I couldn’t agree more – especially about the media’s – ADN’s – reluctance to cover anything positive that might reflect well on this administration. The Cook Inlet turn around has been remarkable and yet Parnell gets zero credit. In Jan 2013 we were being told that gas was running out and we needed to prepare for rolling brown outs and that we would need to import LNG at 2 to 3 times the cost of gas. Now we have an over abundance of gas. Why? Because Parnell’s policies, along with the Cook Inlet Recovery Act worked.

    We are also seeing an explosion of activity on the North Slope but there is very little coverage or credit given. 13 different companies are going to conducting exploration and development programs – this level of activity has not been seen in years. But Alaskans have no idea how successful the turn around has been. Why?

    Another example is the progress on Ak LNG. Several weeks ago there was a very long legislative hearing updating the legislature and public on all of the progress that has been made, the remarkable team that has been assembled to lead this project, and all the work that they are committing to accomplish in the coming months. Dermot Cole covered the hearing and the only thing he writes about is how some information will be kept secret. A week later he ran a second story about how the state may exercise eminent domain for the liquefaction plant. Why did Dermot choose to write about just these topics? Why not cover some of the positive developments? My sense is he doesn’t want to give Parnell credit for crafting a plan that is moving this project forward, but worse he doesn’t want to educate the public on the challenges and opportunities associated with this project. Again, why?

    Dermot also ran TWO articles on an RCA hearing where Exxon testified that it didn’t expect to see an increase in production. What Dermot didn’t explain and what he wasn’t willing to do was report on what all of the producing companies expect to see over the next several years. If he would have done some real reporting, the public would have received a very different impression of what the future holds. The only time Dermot takes Exxon at face value is when he wants to run a negative story.

    Dermot embodies everything wrong with today’s press. He has a narrative he wants to tell – Parnell bad, state’s future is dismal – and he doesn’t want any facts to get in the way. If Dermot was at the News Miner during the statehood battle we would still be a territory.

  10. Amanda Post author

    @Mom. I know that there’s been a lot said here, and I hate to pick on one point: but when was I cheer-leading for the Unity Ticket?

  11. Straitlaced Radical

    Perhaps, but I doubt it. There are honorable people and scumbags on both sides of the aisle, and some in the middle, too. I used to have confidence that we as a society felt it important to root out bad guys and defend good guys equally, no matter their ideology, and that members of the media would lead the way in that. I no longer have that confidence. Everyone is too apt to excuse bad behavior of those who happen to line up with our worldview, and to assume the worst of those who have a different worldview must be corrupt or evil. Everyone needs accountability to balance the natural darker sides of our human nature.

    I can (and do) have respect for certain public figures, even if I think his or her ideas are stupid or disagreeable. I have no respect for certain others whose ideas I might share and think sound, but who have no integrity in what they do. Assuming that those who hold a particular worldview are always corrupt cheapens public discourse and ultimately our respect for others in society. We resort to snarky name-calling instead of valuing people as intrinsically worthwhile beings and evaluating ideas on their merits.

  12. Ethan

    I think it speaks volumes that despite all the whistle blowing regarding this National Guard business that has taken place over the last several years, it seems that real investigation and real consequences (if you can call them that, firing is not a punishment for rape) have only just begun. These were real crimes with real victims. Real people got sexually harrassed, sexually assaulted, raped, and murdered.

    Contrast that with the recent ruling declaring Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional: Parnell was at the helm within hours, directing EMERGENGY legal action to try to make sure that “the gays” didn’t unravel society by getting married. It clearly demonstrates what is important to Sean Parnell, and it does not seem to be “respect”.

  13. Straitlaced Radical

    I think Amanda runs a more credible outlet than most, and I appreciate that she is generally upfront with disclosing personal viewpoints as such. That said, the media answers to no one, and there are some fair reporters and many who are not. A media outlet with an agenda has a powerful opportunity to shape public opinion, even if it’s only in what it chooses to cover or not cover. You don’t see the major newspapers in our state carrying much, if any, good news that could be attributed to the current administration, even though the information is available to them. I know there are private citizens who write opinion pieces that papers won’t pick up because it would be politically inconvenient to do so. We should look skeptically at our office holders and hold them accountable — and what we most should be able to expect is integrity and fairness. Same with journalists, though the public doesn’t have the means to hold them accountable on their ethics, besides competition in the marketplace. If a publisher of any given outlet has deep pockets and doesn’t care about that, good luck.

  14. Rebecca Logan

    Amanda – is it possible they can’t release information? I’m asking because I really don’t know – would it hurt an ongoing investigation to do so? Most importantly – would it hurt the victims?

  15. LysanderSpooner

    LMAO. Mmm, mmm … I can tell you love your tasty Fox News talking points.

    Parnell is an honest man. And a hard worker. The rest of your post is nonsensical garbage.

  16. Garand Fellow

    Every race for elected office this year in Alaska is about President Obama, and the people keeping this National Guard issue in the news are so directed. The governor’s critics are organized and funded by the Mark Begich campaign, an election race chosen by President Obama as one he needs to have go his way. For instance, last night the Anchorage television news had a long segment on a new political group of women – reported in the news segment to be Democrats, independents and Republicans – working on these women’s issues but the lead person speaking for the group is the same old cow that is the the main speaker in the Begich ad against Sullivan on women’s issues! That cannot be a coincidence. The campaign leaders either are asleep or they think Alaskans are stupid.

    These people are corrupt, dishonest, well funded, and out to dominate Alaska using any nefarious scheme they can contrive. Much of the media is complicit. They want to railroad Governor Parnell and all Republicans in the same way that Senator Ted Stevens was railroaded in 2008. They are disciples of Barack Hussein Obama.

    Governor Parnell is an honest man. When he says he fired everyone he could and that he is constrained by the facts available to him I believe him. Alaska is fortunate to have this person as governor at this critical time. It would be tragic to allow the big money of the Begich campaign and the incompetence of the Obama regime determine the future of Alaska.

  17. Ak Mom


    You’re absolutely right. If you watch any press conference or read any of the coverage of Parnell and Palin before him — all of the local media has been unfairly antagonistic with them. And, yet, even here, Amanda was cheerleading for the so-called “unity” ticket. It’s so obvious and not many people — except for you here today — call them out on it. Either no one reads or no one cares. I canceled my subscription to ADN over the unabashed bias. If Parnell had done what Walker and the Dems did to voters and the election process and setting the dangerous precedent that they did, Amanda and her colleagues would have crucified Parnell mercilessly. But, it’s ok when their guy does it. The hypocrisy is undeniable.

    I only read here to keep up to date but I skim for details and ignore her editorial writing. I look for the readers like you and Jon K and others who are clearly critically thinking about the issues. A liberal-worshipping media is out of place in a conservative state. I am a firm believer in questioning our government and demanding transparency and asking tough questions. But, no one in the media goes after Begich or Walker and his Dem pals with the same diligence and vigor. It clearly shows their bias and agenda.

  18. Dodger Fan

    I don’t understand the governor’s reticence. Is he covering for Cindy Simms? Mike Niezech? Who? None of it makes sense. Parnell would be disgusted by the Guard behavior. He needs to come forward and lay it out. It is his only chance for political survival. Just tell the public what you know, when you knew it and why you did or didn’t do in terms of handling this.

  19. akmom

    The video offers only empty words. Governor Parnell is the “Choose Respect” administration by his own media campaign. Even he only knew 1/2 of what this report documents, he has still failed miserably. A Governor leads…….doesn’t get led.

  20. Mae

    Enough Parnell.

    Now we know why the Three Headed Monsters got away with their sickness and victimizing for so long.

    And guess what? No body has been charged with a crime.
    Why is that?

    What is it going to take for this administration to realize some real serious crimes have occurred and they don’t have the know how to prosecute?
    If it’s political pressure, then so be it.

    Parnell, choose some respect for the victims and get some arrests made.
    DO IT NOW.

  21. Straitlaced Radical

    Pardon my skepticism. I’m not a reporter, but I have been watching the last several sessions pretty closely. I watch press conferences, floor sessions, and a lot of committee hearings for myself and read what comes out after. If I were a pol, I wouldn’t trust the media to get my message out either. I bet Parnell could sit down and answer all sorts of questions with reporters, and it wouldn’t change their agenda one bit. Just my perspective as a watcher and reader for what it’s worth.

  22. Amanda Post author

    @Straight: Not pandering. Just open and honest and willing to answer questions. I’m not saying if you’re nice to the media that you get better coverage. In fact, that stuff can backfire really quickly. (John McCain is a prime example of that.) However, establishing relationships is always important in any job, and particularly for a politician.

  23. Straitlaced Radical

    So are you saying one has to pander to the press in order to get fair treatment from them? So much for responsible and even-handed coverage in the public’s interest. Why should we in the public always mistrust a politician’s motives and always trust a reporter’s? At least politicians have rules they’re forced to play by and people holding them accountable. I have a dim view of most politicians in general, but my esteem for the media is also quickly shrinking. I don’t mind a little bias-everybody has one. But one should at least be honest about their agenda.

  24. DB

    Methinks that the palace guard has done a serious disservice to the governor. Maybe he should look at those who surround him and are not doing their jobs. Surely, one of these palace guards is a chink in the armor.

  25. Amanda Post author

    @Rebecca: We really could know more had the administration released information to the media. APRN had to wait 86 days before its request was denied.

  26. John Q Public

    Perhaps this had something to do with the video (which was surprising only in its lack of reference to Checkers).

    “The culture of fear is so predominant throughout the entire organization that persons of influence and power have retreated in the shadows and feel helpless to assist these women.”—State Command Chaplain Lt. Col. Rick Koch
    Military investigation reports obtained by the Press detail rampant sexual misconduct beginning in 2007 by three Alaska Army National Guard recruiters whose joint nickname was “The Three-Headed Monster.”
    The reports provide in-depth accounts of four sexual assaults and numerous cases of sexual harassment targeting fellow soldiers, new recruits, and civilian women, including high school JROTC cadets.
    One National Guard investigation found that a recruiter sexually assaulted a civilian victim in late December 2010, more than a month after three military chaplains have said they personally warned Governor Sean Parnell that Guard officers were covering up rapes committed by recruiters…..
    The reports, which have not been released to the public, were submitted to Alaska National Guard leaders in December 2013. (Editorial Note: and the Tom Katkus/McHugh Pierre band played on).

    Six months before the 2011 incident with the new recruit, three Alaska National Guard chaplains, including State Command Chaplain Lt. Col. Rick Koch, informed Governor Sean Parnell in two speaker phone conversations about widespread misconduct with the Alaska National Guard, including sexual assaults perpetrated by recruiters, according to extensive notes of the conversations kept by the chaplains.
    “Four women known to me and some others have been sexually assaulted and/or raped within this past year,” Koch told the governor, according to written “bullet point” notes he said he used in the conversations, and gave the governor’s office in November 2010.
    “None of these women will come forward due to mistrust and fear of reprisal. The culture of fear is so predominant throughout the entire organization that persons of influence and power have retreated in the shadows and feel helpless to assist these women.”
    According to Koch’s notes, he informed the governor that, “Our newest recruits, in my opinion, are at constant risk.”
    Parnell has refused to release public records showing what he knew about sexual assaults and other serious misconduct within the Alaska National Guard, when exactly he knew it, and what, if anything, he did about it.

  27. Andy Josephson

    Setting aside all the other facts, and considering only what the Governor says in his 6 minute video, why did he wait until August-September to fire Gen. Katkus, when he reports that he could not get the fully and candid story from him in February of this year? That’s 6 months of delay. This is but one internal inconsistency within this video.

  28. Rebecca Logan

    My two cents. I have known Sean and Sandy Parnell since their children were little. Our children played together 15 years ago when they were little girls. Sean and Sandy were then, and are still now, ethical, caring, respectful, responsible people. For anyone to suggest otherwise is just wrong.

    Here are my questions about this issue:
    1. Who knew what when.
    2. Is there anything with regard to law, authority, protection of victims that prohibited/prohibits things from happening in the order/manner that the general public would like to see or with regard to the information being released to the public?

    Finally- we as the public have a very, very limited amount of information about this. To make accusations and lay blame on anyone, with the small amount of information that we have, is irresponsible, and unfair. All Alaskans want this issue to be dealt with -but we need to do the right thing. And we need to do things right. We have to have more information before we burn anyone at the stake.

  29. Anonymous

    it disgusts me on how much the democrats are using this for political game. It is just like the Mark Begich commercial about the sexual assault incident. for those who are mad and think the Gov has something to hide because he won’t show emails from his office about the National Guard incident… he is simply doing the decency that Begich did NOT do by not breaching the privacy of those involved.

  30. doj

    There is ample proof that this embarrassingly incompetent governor should be fired (or resign if he had any decency). With this scandal his OWN words indict him:

    A direct quote from Parnell: “… I don’t have enough information to take action beyond what I did.”

    Basically Parnell claims if he had the information he would have acted sooner. HE’S THE GOVERNOR! He acts as if it was up to someone else to ask for the information. His reasoning was tautological. I’d have acted it I had the information, but I didn’t act because I didn’t have the information. Huh!

    Years of incompetence. Years of pain for many victims of his administrations corruption and incompetence. Fire this guy already.

  31. Lynn Wilis

    Having followed this scandal for quite a while, I am not impressed with Parnell’s efforts. He has politicized this perhaps more than anyone by his refusal to even now call for a non-partisan special prosecutor with broad subpoena power to elicit testimony under oath and to prosecute for perjury and criminal conduct those who are to be formally charged with crimes both in and out of the Alaska National Guard. Likewise this effort will exonerate all those who have been unfairly implicated. That said, the Governor apparently prefers to be accursed and accused in the press and on these blogs and to use the media to defend his actions. What a way to run an Administration!
    While listening to this tape who thought I would be tainted by this after retiring in 1998. Well apparently now I am by the good Governor when at 2:46 he states: “You have to understand that this climate of misconduct by those in different leadership roles has gone on for over twenty years”. I was in a minor leadership role and a legally accountable officer for millions of dollars worth of federal property. I resent now being characterized as perhaps nothing more than a member of a pirate crew. Where do I go to clear my name now that Governor Parnell has implicated me and my peers from that era of service in this behavior?
    Every since the Dahlstrom scandal I have lost faith in this Governor and sensed that Governor Parnell is not aware and simply reacts not leads. The other day in Fairbanks he admitted that he was surprised by the shutdown of the North Pole Refinery in apparently in the same manner that he was surprised by this scandal. I do wonder who the real Governor is and is that person being protected at all costs?
    The saddest statement in this video is at 2:52 when arguably the most powerful governor in the United States, who appoints his own Attorney General and all the Commissioners who could have helped him, claims that: “Yes, it was very hard to actually get some hard facts to work with.”

  32. Amanda Post author

    @Jon. Simple answer to a complicated question: Parnell and his administration have been particularly bad at communicating at any level with the public through the media. As far as I can tell, never has a governor been so distant from the press. Also, and every flack worth his or her spit knows this: people like people who like them. Not one person in Parnell’s communication team seems to understand that simple rule. It’s head scratching.

  33. Jon K

    Thanks for posting this Amanda and thanks for your fair reporting – as many others have said, this cite is becoming an indispensible source. My sense, and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this, is that much of the press, in particular the ADN, really have it out for Parnell – much like Fox with Obama. To give one example: During the session I would occassionally watch press conferences. It was pretty apparent by the questions that most of the reporters don’t like or trust Parnell. Press conferences held by the Ds were very different – the press usually asked soft ball questions and seemed to take everything at face value. Is this a partisan thing? Personalities? Or does the press just like to go after the person in power?

  34. commonsense

    I have met this governor personally and have followed his fine record in combating domestic violence and sexual abuse. I have also heard the horrible Walker ad being circulated against him which lays the blame on his office. Listening to this video, and knowing what I know about this fine man at the head of our state, I have no other choice than to agree that the vitriolic campaign to discredit our governor is no more than a political witch hunt of the basest kind. I stand behind our governor with the fullest of confidence in his integrity.

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