Parnell appointed another non-resident board member, this one to the AGDC

Law dictates that those appointed to boards and commissions must be Alaska residents. However, Gov. Sean Parnell will not budge on a board appointment that appears to violate the law. In an email, Sharon Leighhow, the governor’s spokesperson, said that Parnell will not pull the name of California resident and former oil executive Dennis Mandell from the State Assessment Review Board, the board that assesses the trans-Alaska gas pipeline for tax purposes.

Leighhow said that Parnell also won’t pull another non-resident appointment to the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. Richard Rabinow, appointed to AGDC’s board by Parnell in September, lives in Houston, Texas, not, as statue would dictate, in Alaska.

Leighhow said that the Alaska state Constitution only says that a board member must be a U.S. resident. However, a state statue provides further guidance. It says that board members must be Alaska voters.

Senate Democrats have called for the removal of Mandell. Sen. Hollis French said that the law is clear. In a press conference on Tuesday, Sen. John Coghill, the Majority Leader, said that French appears to make a “good point.”

The Legislature must confirm both nominees.

AGDC board member Rabinow is president of a pipeline consulting firm. He was with ExxonMobil for 34 years, including as the president of ExxonMobil Pipeline Company. He is a former chairman of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines and the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) Owners Committee.

AGDC is charged with preparing the state to build a bullet line that would carry gas from the North Slope to SouthCentral Alaska. It’s a fallback agency of sorts, in the very real case that a big line doesn’t get built. A subsidiary of the corporation would also be in charge of the state’s equity interest in the big line, if it does ever get built.

Parnell, not AGDC, chose the board’s makeup. However, AGDC president Dan Fauske said that Rabinow is “extremely well qualified” and has been an asset to the board, which has met about four times.

Rabinow’s appointment is much less controversial than Mandell’s, who was appointed after another member of the SAR board, Marty McGee, was fired. McGee fought for a higher pipeline assessment, thereby costing the oil companies millions of dollars in taxes to localities they wouldn’t have otherwise paid. The assessment was upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court. It’s unclear why Parnell fired him.

It’s puzzling why Parnell has chosen to dig in on this particular fight at this particular time. He is a former ConocoPhillips lobbyist, and his ties with industry have always been suspect. However, many voters have put those suspicions aside, believing that he’s doing what’s best for the state. This, however, could make some question those ties, particularly at a time when the public is trying to decide if they trust him and the oil industry enough to keep a major tax break in place that he championed.

Democrat Rep. Les Gara pointed out that if Parnell just chose to stick by the constitution, there would be no troopers, job training, or university financial aid, to name a few. He says that that Parnell took an oath to uphold the constitution and Alaska laws. “He doesn’t get to pick and choose the statutes he violates,” Gara said.

What happens next? French said that he expects to get more legal opinions on the matter. “And then we vote,” he said.

Contact Amanda Coyne at

UPDATED: The story has been updated to reflect Leighhow’s comment about Richard Rabinow.


8 thoughts on “Parnell appointed another non-resident board member, this one to the AGDC

  1. 357

    Not sure why the Governor is making these choices. Almost uncharacterristic of him. These actions are very troubling to me as a republican. As an Alaskan, they are extremely offensive. Hopefully he will see the errors of his ways and withdraw the names of the Lower 48 mistakes.

  2. B. Evans

    Parnell specializes in illegal appointments. Remember Nancy and Gene ? I do. Can someone tell me what the Governor’s aversion is to appointing Alaskans ? This is all very offensive, unnecessary and soundiing illegal.

  3. Lynn Willis

    The pattern from 2010 repeats itself. Governor Parnell got away with this before so why not again? Who is going to stop him? The Attorney General he appoints or the Alaska legislature?
    2010 is when Governor Parnell created a position for a sitting legislator as a military advisor in his administration in direct violation of the Alaska Constitution (Article 2 Section 5) “….During the term for which elected and for one year thereafter, no legislator may be nominated, elected, or appointed to any other office or position of profit which has been created, or the salary or emoluments of which have been increased, while he was a member…” The legislator in question was allowed to resign from her new job when the circumstances became known, which is hard to understand if there was nothing wrong.
    By the way, the then Attorney General, who by simply not enforcing the State Constitution which thereby absolved the Governor, is now running for U.S. Senate.

  4. troxell

    What about the other appointees to this board? Of the five public members appointed, only two of them are true bonafide Alaskans that are eligible for a PFD. The other 3, in my opinion, have questionable residencies in Alaska. I bet this guy, Al Bloea and Drue Pearce are all disqualified from collecting PFDs. I wonder if they are voters or not. One thing I don’t wonder about is that I know we have real Alaskans that truly live and vote here that would be legitimate and good board members. It is a shame that Parnell does not know this.

  5. LHF

    I’m perplexed at the Governor’s actions. If it were simply a mistake or oversight, I think he’d correct it. This is the ultimate anti-local hire slap in the face. Normally, I would never suggest that Parnell was ever belligerent. Now, I need to rethink that.

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