Media outlets sue Parnell administration to get records related to National Guard scandal

The Dispatch and APRN have joined forces to sue Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration to get public records relating to the National Guard scandal. The Dispatch and APRN claim:

…the governor’s office has been wrongly denying public records requests that could help voters verify whether Parnell acted swiftly in dealing with numerous allegations about mishandled sexual assaults, harassment, fraud, favoritism and other misconduct, including abuse of power, within the guard over the past several years. The two media outlets made the decision to sue after public records requests by their reporters were met with long delays and ultimately rejected by Randal Ruaro, the policy director and special counsel in the governor’s office, in broad-sweeping denial letters.

It took the state four months to deny APRN’s records request, and more than three months to deny Alaska Dispatch News’ request.

They’re also asking the court to order the Parnell administration to turn over emails related to the scandal that Parnell’s chief of staff, Mike Nizich, received on his personal account.

As I’ve said before, Parnell couldn’t have handled this in a worse way.


16 thoughts on “Media outlets sue Parnell administration to get records related to National Guard scandal

  1. Elizabeth Hooley

    This could be a lot worse; Governor Parnell could have done nothing, but he acted in good faith (past tense) and he is acting (present tense) to bring restoration to this situation. Why are we so quick to pass judgement on people and their actions without knowing ALL the facts?? Why are we so eager to see people fail instead of believing in the best?

  2. Lynn Willis

    The US Army owns the resources and makes the payroll (through the Department of Defense). Imagine if our legislature had to fund the purchase and maintenance of a just couple of the Guard’s UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters not to mention the vehicles, weapons, communications assets, uniforms, etc. That control of the assets and Federal Law governing the use of those assets gives the Army a license and obligation to be involved -and they are as was the case when the Active I.G. responded to Begich and Murkowski; however, the Army very well understands that it must maintain an “arms-length” relationship because of the United States Code provisions that place the Guard under the Control of the State with the Governor as the military Commander in Chief unless the soldiers are activated into Federal Service.
    You pose a very valid question about control within the Guard. The active component has the UCMJ. That is a vital tool for military discipline and as I told you earlier the Alaska Guard never did (as far as I know) incorporate the UCMJ into state statues. So to answer your question crimes other than those identified by civil statute (and I am not a lawyer) such as “failure to salute” or “conduct unbecoming an officer” or “failure to follow orders” simply don’t exist and the Guard muddles along using “non-retention” as it’s most powerful uniquely military punishment. To give you and example of the duality of these military systems, state and federal, I attended an active Army School where a military lawyer addressed the class which included both active duty Army and active duty National Guard soldiers. He told us that those on Guard active duty had “diplomatic immunity” on his post since he could not subject us to the UCMJ. That said, the crimes reported to the Chaplains and others were not uniquely military violations so the idea that the Governor had no power to act is not valid. I sense that several civil statues were violated and action could have been taken with or without the UCMJ.
    Again, you raise a valid point and I do hope the legislature revisits the idea of making National Guard soldiers punishable under the UCMJ as a state statute. That might have helped in this situation.

  3. Garand Fellow

    For the reasons many have stated I think it’s incumbent upon all Alaskans to work hard to make sure Parnell is re-elected. He is largely a victim of bad luck, and of poor timing of events beyond his control. If we later learn he moved too slowly with the National Guard mess he is still an honest man doing his best, and he is intelligent.

    While it would be great entertainment to see a Walker-Mallott effort at running the state I think it would cost far too much. We cannot afford it.

  4. Jon K

    Garand, I agree completely with all of the points raised. It is going to be very intereting to watch a Walker Administration in action if he wins. I’ll also be interested to see what Dermot Cole decides to mislead the public about with Parnell gone.

  5. Jon K

    Thanks Lynn, but what I don’t understand is what role the U.S. military, US Attorney, or other federal agencies have in all of this – is the onus solely on the state and its law enforcement to investigate these things? If Parnell could only fire Katkus and Pierre, who had jurisdiction and authority over the rest of the crew?

  6. Jack Morgan

    Governor Parnell is a man of character and believes in and seeks justice. Governor Parnell initiated the investigation during an election year. Wrong was done and needs a judicial remedy. Governor Parnell has fired the top brass as he is allowed to do. A new TAG will have to fire those who are lower down on the food chain. I applaud the Governor’s actions.

  7. Lynn Willis

    I understand the Army I.G. (Inspector General), at the request of Begich and Murkowski, looked into this situation and reported no clear evidence of undue command influence to obfuscate. That does seem to be in direct conflict with what the National Guard Office of Complex Investigations found later which resulted in Parnell quickly removing his two appointed Commissioners.
    An Army I.G. inspection can be very narrow in scope. I don’t know what the charge to the I.G. was. In this case if the I.G. inspection was limited to review of available documents and if those documents were provided by the Alaska National Guard who apparently had not produced sufficient documentation of the situation, the conclusion of the I.G. might appear to be valid.
    What is missing is the reason/justification for not involving State Law enforcement and investigative agencies including the Office of the State Attorney General.

  8. Sam P.

    Yes…let’s all pile on the governor since that’s the thing to do and we don’t want to be left out of the fun…because there has never been a scandal in the military before. Except maybe Tailhook. And the Air Force Academy. And Abu Grhaib. And the USS Enterprise. And the Aberdeen Proving Ground rapes. Oh, and the Okinawa rapes…

  9. Garand Fellow

    I pretty much agree with everyone here. Parnell couldn’t have handled this in a worse way. He likely didn’t know how bad it really was until recently. This scandal in which another shoe drops every day, coupled with the union fear of Mayor Dan Sullivan, may result in Parnell losing next month and Alaska gaining a dishonest nut-job for governor.

    In times like these we are very fortunate to have The ADN is working as hard as it can to have Democrats elected no matter the cost. The Newsminer has decided to become a small-town paper. The Empire gives us 3-day old news, misses most political news altogether, and has expanded its basketball, football and baseball section.

  10. Les Moore

    Ken Blaylock, who was a lieutenant colonel with the National Guard and one of the original whistleblowers who went to Sean Parnell, also suggested that DeHaas may have been involved in the illegal smuggling of AK47s from Iraq, and that he tipped off soldiers when investigators were going to catch them.

    This is going to get much, much worse before it gets better. Who did Dehaas tip off ?

    Was it the Commander of the 207th AVN ?

    Did a soldier have photographic evidence of this smuggling on her cell phone, and if so what happened to her ?

    What is the Commander’s day job when he’s not deployed or drilling as a Weekend Warrior ?

    This is going to get much, much worse before it gets better, and this is exactly where the Governor’s Office doesn’t want to go.

    Rest In Peace Michelle LaRose Clark.

  11. Jon K

    Did the state legislature, Young, Murkowski, Begich, federal and state law enforcement, and whatever federal entities oversee the national guard also drop the ball? I don’t mean to deflect blame from Parnell, just curious.

  12. Lynn Willis

    This certainly was handled poorly; however, I don’t get the impression Sean Parnell handled this at all until after the serious damage was done. For years he just kept delegating the problem away from himself and was more than content to hear from his loyal agent Katkus that everything was under control. When this kept coming back to him over time I would have thought his curiosity would have been peaked more than it was. Finally he was warned in very specific terms by some very credible sources and even then he deferred to a non-judicial entity to investigate. That effort which, in the public report of the investigation, was not very specific and didn’t result in legal prosecution or final exoneration of individuals only fueled the flames. Now with a politically motivated opposition paying very close attention, the delayed refusal to release related documents, the appearance of uncharacteristic micro- management by Parnell regarding the reversal of the firings of the officers, and that report in the Anchorage Press, a gallon of gasoline has been thrown on the fire.
    Now the press senses cover up and Parnell is going learn, as have other politicians over time, not to engage in an image making contest with the folks who own the image poster printing press. Funny how seemingly little things like ignored reports of misconduct in the National Guard or that “second rate break in” of a political party headquarters forty years ago can start the dominos falling.

  13. West side voter, anchorage

    This Guard scandal is taking Parnell down. His handling of this issue has been poor. If there are reasons why he is moving so slow, so be it; however, tell the public what’s going on. This looks very bad for the governor.

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