Alaska Democrat legislators attack, lie about Board of Regents nominee


A character assassination on University of Alaska Board of Regents nominee Bethany Marcum by Democrat Sen. Jesse Kiehl of Juneau was the low point in the deliberations about whether Marcum, executive director of the conservative Alaska Policy Forum, would be added as a regent.

Marcum’s confirmation failed, closely, in a joint session of the Alaska Legislature. Democrats and liberal Republicans voted against her.

All other nominees by the governor to various boards and commissions were accepted, but leftists in the Legislature spoke passionately against Marcum, characterizing her policy positions as anti-education, and saying that all she wants to do is cut the budget for the university.

The dirtiest attack came when Sen. Kiehl said Marcum came into his office once as an advocate on an education issue and told him that she was “just a mom” who didn’t know how things work around here, and then tearfully beseeched him to see her point of view on education. At the time, he was taking the meeting as a legislative aide on behalf of the late Sen. Dennis Egan, his predecessor.

Kiehl said later he found out that she had been a legislative aide, and in his mind this contradicted her statement of being a mom who didn’t know how things worked. He challenged her integrity.

It was very much reminiscent of what former Rep. Ivy Spohnholz did during the confirmation of Karl Johnstone to the Board of Fish in 2019, when she stood on the floor of the session and accused Johnstone of sexual harassment of someone — relaying a third-hand story she had heard, which she told without disclosing the source of the accusation. It was at the height of the “me too” craze, and Spohnholz used an anonymous attack a man who had served as a judge in Alaska for many years, and who was not able to stand up and refute her attacks.

As for the Keihl attack on Marcum, she told Must Read Alaska that it’s astounding since “I’ve never been a mom and certainly have never told anyone that I am.”

Several Republicans defended Marcum on Tuesday. Rep. David Eastman said it was inappropriate for Kiehl to attack the character of a nominee in that manner.

Especially effective was Sen. Shelley Hughes, who stood up and began by stating, “I’m just a mom and sometimes I don’t know how things work around here.” Hughes is in the super-minority in the Senate, banished from all committee assignments by the liberal majority.

Hughes said that accusing Marcum of lacking integrity was unfair and pointed out that, not only does Marcum have a bachelor’s and master’s degree, she has had additional education in Japan and Hungary, and she has spent years studying and publishing important information about education in Alaska. Hughes and other Republicans said that it’s important to have a diversity of opinion on the Board of Regents, and not every regent needs to be rah-rah for the University of Alaska system, which has plenty of critics around the state for quality and performance.

Rep. Dan Saddler also spoke to the importance of the diversity of opinion, and reminded the body that there are other people (Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State) who say they are just “moms in tennis shoes.” It’s an idiom that should not be considered an absolute when weighing someone’s integrity.

Marcum, who was out of state when the vote occurred, said it went about as she expected.

Clearly, as expressed by several Democrats, her role as a strong advocate on the Redistricting Board set Democrats and people like Republican Sen. Cathy Giessel against her.


  1. Again, the very politicians who relied on conservative votes to gain office themselves have turned around and declared that those same voters are too conservative to serve even in state volunteer positions.

    • David, you point on with your comments on the floor: This goes on too far many times during confirmations. Legislators making statements, with no chance of due process!

  2. you should name these republican senators. ill name Bert Stedman of Sitka. he wants a small pfd so he can give more to the schools he criticizes governor Dunleavy whenever the dems want him to, then he votes against a conservative today. he was kind of quiet when he voted today his no was real quit like some dem told him how to vote. frank Murkowski appointed him to a seat a few years back and now he acts like sister lisa. i think he is the son frank never had. he needs to be censored by the republican party. this was a big vote to lose mike svenson sitka

    • Now you got us wondering who our dad really is?
      Bert Stedman? LOL. He looks more like the son of Barney Frank. Lisa may be on to something.

      • Yes, I did some appointing as governor. But now the kids got me wondering again. Let me check with Nancy and make sure I did all of this. Getting real old and starting to act like Joe Biden more and more everyday. Sometimes I think Lisa is getting the early stages of it too. It certainly would be additional proof that we’re actually related.

        • Dementia and diminished capacity does run with the family genes, Frankie. I keep telling you that, but you don’t pay attention. Why do you think Lisa kept us holed-up in Petersburg during her campaign last year? It wasn’t because we love Petersburg.

          • I thought we were now living in Wrangell, Nancy. Did we move? We actually caught the ferry?

  3. Always classy, Kiehl.

    It’s a pity politicians can’t be held for the libelous things they say on the floor.

    50 years ago it was entirely possible Kiehl could have gotten his butt kicked for those comments. But we’re “civilized” now.

    • Yes indeed. And the most two faced is Sen Giessel. She needs to be given her walking papers.

  4. Jesse Kiehl is grandstander. Last summer there was a huge abortion rally in downtown Juneau. He was on the podium ranting and raving like he needed an abortion. Who knows, maybe he identifies as a child birthing person.

    • I’ve met both Story and Hannan. While we disagree on everything, they have the decency to at least hear a constituent out.

      Jesse can’t be bothered with such trivial things.

  5. So wasn’t this Kiehl goof hysterically moaning about being the victim of “anti-Semitism” not that long ago when the Republican Women of Juneau ran an ad suggesting he’d be coming for people’s wallets?

  6. This is whaaaat they all do. They get bored sitting around doing nothing meaningful so they make up stuff. ABOUT YOU. OR someone else working for a living in this “place”. They route their crap all around to each other. They hope you do something straightforward and communicate it to them so they can create a dossier, a manifesto and forward it to the “leeders”, security and they cull it “legislating”. Everything you send into that wastral of Juneau stays forever. The crowning jewel is they are now going to have the privilege of running their deplorables into mental health “holds”. If you have long-term care insurance? YOU’LL be in for a very long time while they examine you ad nauseum to see what’s wrong with you that you like President Trump better than his constant detractors. Does that sound adorable to you or “democratic” or pertaining to our guaranteed republic form of governmint? Why do you keep putting yourself at risk by continuing to vote for these charlatans? Just wondering…

  7. Yes the Democrats just love Bert. He has been a reliable stedfast Democrat from the beginning.

  8. I have stopped “pearling” them. Some of them are completely spiritually unqualified to receive anything emanating from the abundance of Alaskan hearts. Take heed and precautions for safety sake with these troubled people vacillating in the winds.

  9. Wacko Democrats and RINOs sticking together. However, the real operatives behind the denial for confirmation are:
    1. UA President.
    2. UAF Chancellor.
    3. UA Board of Regents.
    UA is nothing but a political club for Lefties.

    • Almost every institution of alleged higher education is.

      But cross out lefties and write in fascists.

      • #3, the Board of Regents. Look at their composition. All left-wingers at the tail of their careers, or in retirement. Their last little power gig, and they lobby who they want in their club. All Democrats. Most of them didn’t attend college at UA. Pathetic bunch.

        • Rick is absolutely correct. Most of those Regents are political wanabees who could never get elected because of their pasts.
          Just looking for anything to hang onto, to make themselves feel important. Their egos and feeling of importance by magnanimity, is all they have. Stingy with their own money, but generous with the public’s money. Nobodys. Just another title.

  10. Disappointing, but not unexpected. Artful Dogger is right – UA definitely needs diversity. Amazing how the democrats preach diversity unless it applies to them. Surprising that the rest of the appointments got through without more bloodletting. Marcum was a quality appointment and would have added a different and needed point of view to the UA Board of Regents.

  11. It is very unfortunate that the legislature did not confirm Bethany Marcum. It seems as if many fear a strong woman in a leadership position. I believe the real opposition came from the Education Industry, the NEA and the AFT. This shows the total strength of the Education Industry and its influence on the legislature. Check out the House Ed Committee hearings on HB105 to get a hint. As for Senator Giessel, she seems to have changed chameleon-like into a liberal who is power hungry. She no longer touts a conservative philosophy and knows where her power now comes from–the multiple government unions in AK. Finally, the AK power brokers took down strong women like Bernadette Wilson, Bethany Marcum, and Judy Eledge. Who will be next?

  12. Alaska needs Regents who support education funding. Bethany Marcum repeatedly supported Governor University budget cuts during his first two years and then denied her public statements during confirmation hearings. The Board of Regents have a primary responsibility to advance education, Ms. Marcum does not meet that standard.Note that those horrible Democrats confirmed 79 out of 80 Dunleavy appointments

    • Frank:
      Hello anybody in there? Alaska needs Regents who support EDUCATION. Any fool Regent can beg for more money.

  13. Jesse Keihl is a sad state of affairs for a senator who does little to nothing for Juneau constituents and needs to be replaced!

    • He’s not going anywhere. He’s exactly what CBJ wants.

      Plus if he were turned out, he might get more into our local politics and screw Juneau up further.

  14. The corrupt education cartel in Alaska will not tolerate anyone who has even the smallest chance of upsetting their apple cart, period!

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