CAMPAIGNING ON THE PUBLIC DIME? Gov. Bill Walker has been making the rounds in Kodiak, Kotzebue, and Bethel of late. And he’s traveling with an entourage.
In fact, nearly his entire cabinet went to Bethel with him. The cost of a trip like that has been in the works for weeks, and the cost to the public won’t be known for weeks, but with 14 of his core team plus security detail, it’s well over $20,000.
Walker signed a bill in a careful photograph that had only children in sight, and convened his cabinet behind closed doors in Bethel. Governor Walker, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, and the Cabinet also hosted a community reception for Bethel residents.
Bethel is the hometown of Commissioner of Health and Social Services Valerie “Nurr’araaluk” Davidson. Davidson is reported to spend her summers in Bethel.
“I’m very pleased Lt. Governor Mallott, our commissioners, and I had the chance to engage with students in Bethel today and hear residents’ concerns,” Governor Walker said. “Convening the Cabinet in Bethel has been a goal of mine, and I thank the community for the warm reception. Hearing from Alaskans across the state keeps us all engaged and grounded, and equips us to continue pulling together for our state.”
There’s that, plus the fact that he had filed for re-election just a week prior.
ZINKE INVESTIGATION DROPPED: The Interior Department’s inspector general dropped its investigation into a reported phone call in late July from Zinke to Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan telling them there would be dire consequences for Alaska due to Murkowski’s obstruction of Obamacare reform.
Evidently both senators refused to participate in the investigation over the content of those calls, so Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall said she was pulling the plug.
DISPATCH CHIEF NOW CO-HOSTING FUNDRAISER FOR WALKER: Two and a half years ago, one of the top managers of the Alaska Dispatch News was fired by owner Alice Rogoff because she had accepted a position on the Mayor Ethan Berkowitz transition team. Oddly, Rogoff announced the firing to a room full of business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“Our executive vice president for advertising is no longer with us. She became close to the Berkowitz campaign and is now a member of that transition team. It crossed a line that to me is … the appearance is somehow associated with our newspaper. we will never be active in political campaigns,” Rogoff told the group on May 21, 2015.
But now, the remaining titular executive vice president Dispatch, Margy Johnson, is cohosting a fundraiser for her longtime friend Gov. Bill Walker’s re-election.
Word is that Rogoff has asked Johnson to stay on until the newspaper changes hands. As executive vice president, she’s no longer listed in the staff box, but evidently taking a paycheck well into next month to keep an eye on the place for Rogoff. And with one foot out the door, getting onboard with the Walker camp may be a strategic career move.
So much for ADN non-involvement in political campaigns.
SPOTTED: In the Legislative Information Office yesterday, leftist political strategist and owner of the MidnightSunAK blog, Jim Lottsfeldt, who was in Rep. Jason Grenn’s office meeting with his staff.
Lottsfeldt is the money guy behind a new political action committee formed with Outside money to push Grenn’s anti-corruption initiative.
They probably won’t need much money because everyone is against corruption, right?
Here’s the donor list for the Massachusetts-based group that is behind the ballot initiative.
JUSTIN PARISH WANTS INCOME TAX: Juneau’s Rep. Justin Parish is still all-in on an income tax. At a townhall meeting last night, 16 people showed up to hear his pitch for their pocketbook.
“It’s my conviction that we should pay for our government rather than kicking it down the path,” Parish said, as quoted by the Juneau Empire. “I’m convinced, as I was from the time I ran, that the wisest course would be to implement a light income tax.”
And by light, he means those who are still working and haven’t received a raise for two years — and that would be many working in Alaska — would be asked to skim off some of their income so the State of Alaska doesn’t have to reduce the size of its workforce or trim its very generous social welfare programs.