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Wednesday, March 20, 2019
HomePolitics and PolicyTranscript: Fields says he was asking about homosexuality

Transcript: Fields says he was asking about homosexuality

WANTED TO KNOW IF COMMISSIONER WOULD DISCRIMINATE

Here is the exact transcript of the testimony of Commissioner Designee Kelly Tshibaka, Dept. of Administration, on March 5, 2019, at 3:44 pm in the House Senate Affairs Committee:

“In preparing for these confirmation hearings, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with members of the committees ahead of time. And these meetings have given me the chance to learn about issues of interest to the members, and answer questions on a wide range of topics.

The majority of these meetings have been enjoyable and productive; however, in my meeting with Chairman Fields, he asked me questions related to my religious beliefs, like how I would express my Christian faith at work, how my Christian faith would affect my implementation of laws and policies, and if I would separate my faith-life from my work-life.

He told me to be prepared to answer these questions at the hearing today. So, I want to take a few moments to address these issues openly and publicly.

[Read: The education of Zack Fields: Religious discrimination 101]

I have a strong and established 16-year federal career of cultivating diverse teams, and of faithfully implementing federal laws, regulations and policies. I would not have been entrusted with multiple senior level positions, nor maintained my top-secret SCI security clearance, if I’d engaged in religious expression that was inappropriate, if I’d forced my religious beliefs on others, or if I’d contravened laws and policies with which I disagree.

As further testament to my leadership, the committees have received several letters of endorsement from inspectors general who’ve supervised me throughout my career, as well as from some of my direct reports, many of whom do not share my religious views.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins sips coffee, while Reps. Zack Fields and Adam Wool stroke their beards during Commissioner Tshibaka’s recitation of the Constitutional protections of her religious beliefs.

You’ve received letters from the former Inspector General from the Department of Justice, the former Inspector General of the Federal Trade Commission, the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service, and the Inspector General of the Department of Labor, all of whom have endorsed my nomination, and none of whom would have done so if I was a leader who used my position or authority to violate other people’s civil rights. In short, throughout my professional career, I have lived out my faith and values in a manner that is true to myself, respectful of others, and consistent with the law.

[Watch Kelly Tshibaka’s testimony on akleg.tv starting at minute 42.10]

In my last two confirmations hearings before the Senate, I was asked if I would have the courage to speak up if I believed that our state leaders were heading in the wrong direction. I said I would. And today, I am. This is one of those times.

The questions I’ve been asked about my faith are unconstitutional lines of inquiry that violate my civil liberties.

Religious liberty is enshrined in the text of our United States Constitution.

The First Amendment protects freedom of religious expression. And Article VI of the Constitution provides that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. The United States Supreme Court has explicitly warned against the danger of presuming that a person’s faith might present a danger in the context of holding public office. In McDaniel v. Paty, Justices Brennan and Marshall wrote that the American experience provides no persuasive support for the fear that clergymen in public office will be less careful of anti-establishment interests or less faithful to their oaths of public office than their un-ordained counterparts.

Article I Section III of our own Alaska State Constitution also provides that no person is to be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right because of creed. Furthermore, the questions I’ve been asked violate the spirit of Alaska Statute 18.80.200 and 18.80.210 which explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, including religious discrimination in employment. Those laws say that this Legislature has declared it a legislative finding that discrimination against an inhabitant of the state because of religion is a matter of public concern, and not only threatens the rights and privileges of the inhabitant of the state, but also threatens the peace, order, health, safety and general welfare of the state and its inhabitants.

Finally, I’d like to direct your attention to guidelines President Bill Clinton issued on August 17, 1997 relating to religious expression in the federal workplace. These guidelines have the force of an executive order, and they’ve been affirmed by every presidential administration since then, including President Barack Obama. The guidelines state that a supervisor is free to engage in religious expression, when it is understood as the personal view of the supervisor and not perceived as coercion of religious or nonreligious behavior.

For example, a supervisor can invite co-workers to church events, talk about religion, and hold or attend a bible study during lunch. He or she cannot, however, order co-workers to attend a religious service, or a coerced agreement with their views. I’d like to submit for the legislative record both President Clinton’s guidelines and a recent legal memorandum that was issued by the Department of Justice on October 6, 2017 regarding federal law protections for religious liberty. I trust that these will be helpful and informative.

My rights, under both our federal and state constitutions, were violated during my pre-hearing meeting with Chairman Fields.

While I harbor absolutely no ill-will against the chairman, my hope is that I am the last nominee before the Legislature to be subjected to such unconstitutional lines of inquiry. All employees of Alaska – from supervisors to staff, from commissioners to interns – have a protected freedom to express their religion or nonreligion. Alaskans’ rights of free exercise are not limited to their doors of their churches, their synagogues, their mosques, or their temples. They carry those rights with them wherever they go, and wherever they are, including in the halls of our state legislature or at their desks at the State of Alaska agencies. Their rights of free exercise of religion have to be honored and protected and observed.

I have found that the greatest diversity in the workforce is created when people are fully free to be their true selves. And it’s in the richness of that diversity that trust is formed, and community is fostered, and unity is forged. It’s along those lines that some Democratic legislators have asked if I will discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

So let me be absolutely clear: I will not engage in such discrimination, nor have I ever engaged in such discrimination. I have a long career as a senior leader in the federal government, in which I’ve consistently celebrated, embraced and respected diversity. I will continue to live by that standard as the Commissioner of the Department of Administration…”

Chairman Zack Fields, D-Anchorage: Thanks Ms. Tshibaka. I think before going to other committee members, since I’ve been the subject of part of that statement, I’ll start off.

I did ask the commissioner about her views on homosexuality and her ability to be a manager of a diverse workforce. And I actually thought your answer was entirely appropriate and I appreciated it. I was simply looking for you to repeat it on the record to reassure people. I certainly did not apply a religious test or intend to apply a religious test. I respect that there’s a wide variety of people who are in our workforce. I guess I am just disappointed that you’ve made that accusation because that was not my intent, nor is that what I did. With that I think I’ll go to other committee members’ questions.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I hope she rides Fields like a Missouri mule!!!

    • Or a Democrat donkey. Hee Haw!!

    • Like a borrowed Missouri mule

  • Hell YEAH! If not brought back and passed immediately, lawsuit and a very public Federal Judge spanking for Mr Fields and I do hope jail time!

  • Are you kidding me? This IDIOT Fields is uneducated on first impression and should be stripped of his chairmanship. He’s asking a Harvard trained attorney about her religious beliefs as a qualifying credential for her post in the governor’s cabinet? This doesn’t even pass the sniff test on constitutional grounds. This (wack) Fields is off the radar on the DUMB METER.
    The young gal set him up in his own committee. What a joke!. The House needs to sensure this bafoon and send him to grade school civics class. He’s an abject embarrassment in Juneau. What voting district in Alaska elects an IDIOT like WACK FIELDS?

  • Commissioner Designee Kelly Tshibaka is gravely mistaken. Religious protection is not a wide ranging protection. It is reserved for those on the left, certainly not for those who support conservative view points.

  • An excellent essay on the state of America: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kimball/190226

  • Of course Mr. Fields held up her nomination in his committee. She made him look like the idiot that he is and he has nothing to counter her superior brains (and striking looks). She made Fields look like a dumbass in front of all his legislative colleagues. Plus, he looks like the retarded poster boy of the Alaska Democrats.

    • “and striking looks”? Where does that comment fit into this matter. Bet you wished you had not said that.

      • Fraid not. If a woman looks striking, I will say it. I’m not a sissy or afraid of your political correctness. The era of Trump is all about ending this concocted BS. This lady is absolutely striking. A knockout. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Is that enough for ya? I got more.

  • In short, she ate his lunch. And it wasn’t a moose tongue sandwich.

    • Marla, you rock!

  • Somebody got “schooled”. Good for her!!!

  • That picture pretty much sums up the problem with Alaska government. JKT has never had a real job in his young life, Fields is a union/Dem. party hack and Wool is a chrome-domed AOC, i.e. a bartender. And these three amigos are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ne’re do wells and semi-unemployables we send to Juneau. Good grief………

    • Wool owned two businesses in Fairbanks. Blue Loon, a rocker’s bar where dope peddlers hang with rappers, and an ice cream cone stand. ie Wool got people drunk and stoned for 25 years. Then he got them fat. Drunk drivers and obesity can be relationed back to Adam Wool. A true lightweight in the community.

  • Wow How dumb can he be and still breathe

  • It seems as if the problem is that there’s no way to verify if Fields is telling the truth about the questions he put to her before the confirmation hearing. Wish she had waited for any questions that may have been inappropriate during the transcribed hearing and addressed it at that time.

  • This Fields guy is dumber than a can of rocks. Does he have any brains of his own, or does he just do what the elder Democrats tell him to do? Total loser. The nominee is a Harvard trained lawyer. Wack Fields is WAY over his head.

  • Amen. Drop the mic.

  • Slander? Does Fields know the elements of the law of slander? There is no slander. She is just 10 times smarter than he is and he’s mad about that. So he exercises his little girly, hissy-fit and refuses to move her out of Committee. A child playing in a sandbox with a very brilliant attorney who boxed him in. Send Fields back to his district for a recount. Send Knopp with him.

  • Are there ANY Christians in the Dem Party? Is Fields representative of their oppressive viewpoint?

  • Rich, the way the Democrats are trying to steer this country, it may be detrimental to admit to being a Christian. The Dems want that to be the new hallmark of shame. Trump and Pence are Christians. Dunleavy is a Christian. But if you dare to speak of a Muslim in the pejorative, you are cast immediately as a bigot and a rascist. The question is: how did this all evolve since the 9/11 attacks 18 years ago?

  • Did anyone posting here stop to consider that maybe Rep. Fields is
    Bisexual or Homosexual and is offended by Kelly’s possible homophobia?

    • Did you consider Box of Rocks has a raging case of heterophobia ?

  • Has he moved her out of Committee Yet

    • He couldn’t move anyone out of Committee because he was still gagging on Kelly’s moose tongue sandwich.

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