Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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Alaska Redistricting Board dissidents hire their own lawyer until Alaska Supreme Court hands them a hard no

The Alaska Supreme Court today denied a request by two radical dissident members of the Alaska Redistricting Board to join a lawsuit as a separate entity from the redistricting board’s three-member majority, which has a case pending before the Supreme Court.

The ruling from the court came within an hour after the end of Sunday’s testy meeting of the Alaska Redistricting Board, during which the two radicals badgered the chair and other members, and said they’d hired a separate lawyer at their own expense to challenge the board’s legal decisions, which they said were illegal.

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The Alaska Supreme Court quickly ruled that Melanie Bahnke and Nicole Borromeo’s attorney, which they said they would pay for with a fundraiser, would not be allowed to file a separate brief in the pending case. They were simply grandstanding, and the Supreme Court put a quick stop to it.

The court is expected to issue a ruling as early as Monday on the last remaining points of contention in redistricting — Eagle River, East Anchorage, and Girdwood. The urgency is due to the filing deadline for political office being just a week away, on June 1; candidates need to know what House and Senate district they live in before they file. The majority of the board decided to pair Eagle River and Girdwood to meet the demands of the court over a tough-to-draw Senate seat.

Board member Bahnke earlier on Sunday attacked board member Budd Simpson’s wife, who was not present. They have attacked Paulette Simpson before. Bahnke continued the pattern of the two Leftists on the board of picking on Budd Simpson because, while he voted with them on earlier House maps, agreeing with them on several occasions, he later voted with members Bethany Marcum and board Chair John Binkley on the Senate maps. No good deed would go unpunished by Bahnke, who targeted Budd, impugning his character, and blaming his well-known wife for influencing him. Bahnke offered no proof, just allegations.

During the Sunday meeting, Bahnke and Borromeo continued in their role as Rottweilers, gnarling and growling at the three-member majority over every decision.

But it was Bahnke, appointed by former Alaska Chief Justice Joel Bolger, who went off the rails.

Chairman Binkley cautioned Bahnke repeatedly to not make personal attacks, yet she persisted in her claims about Paulette, and then, when counseled against unprofessional behavior, pivoted and said it wasn’t her who brought it up, but it was Budd Simpson who brought it up. Budd responded to the claims by saying they were absolutely false.

“I reject the assertion that my wife or anybody else had any impact or pressured me in any way on that vote,” Budd said.

The board has met since last August to redraw House and Senate districts, and all of them have passed legal muster with the Alaska Supreme Court except the East Anchorage-Eagle River-Girdwood map that currently creates a hillside district. While the process started out in an orderly fashion, it has devolved into nastiness in recent weeks, as Democrats in Anchorage are fighting every step of the way to carve out a Senate seat that will favor their party.

In addition to Bahnke attacking Simpson, Borromeo also made false claims that the board’s own attorney had characterized board member Bethany Marcum as “nuts and crazy.” Binkley cautioned Borromeo to stop making personal attacks.

Bahnke also said on the record she will not honor the decision of the board on the maps or on the board’s legal challenge, as she considers the board process illegitimate.

It appeared that during her attacks and arguments Bahnke was being scripted by her private lawyer, Scott Kendall, who she and Borromeo hired to represent them in their failed effort to block the board majority. Kendall is a leading lawyer for Democrats.

Photo credit: Melanie Bahnke at U.S. Helsinki Commission, via Flickr.

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Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
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.


  1. Oh surprise, surprise!!! Bullying by the left is it’s only way of thinking they might get what they want. Temper tantrum!!!

  2. So Scott Kendall now agrees to represent a client who promises to settle his fee by arranging a fundraiser? That’s a good one!

  3. Thank you, Chairman Binkley for standing up to the venom and utter insanity of the Democrats. Your tenure on the Redistricting Board really shows your diligence to fairness and honesty. And you didn’t let those ugly, radical women take control of the Board. And thank you Chief Justice Daniel Winfree for allowing cooler heads to prevail in light of the burgeoning derangement of the radical Left.
    Finally, it’s fairly easy to relation back to a single source point for most of the hostility and division in contemporary Alaska politics:
    Scott Kendall.

  4. More of the same from leftist communists. It is past time for the GOP to stand up to these thugs and play for keeps. Until they do, we will continue to lose precious ground to those purposely destroying our country for personal gain.

  5. It all demonstrates narcissism personality and/or traits. Everyone, christian and non, should read chuck
    degroat’s ‘when narcissism comes
    to church’. Narcissism is embedded in our human nature, there’s healthy and toxic narcissism. To hire a personal attorney until You get what You want is toxic narcissist.

  6. Scott Kendall. There’s that name again. Apparently he wants to do the same thing to redistricting that Lisa and him did to elections. Cheers –

    • I don’t really like Kelly, but it will be so sweet if Lisa loses this election, that the left thinks they rigged for her.

  7. The same people attacking the Minority Board members will be attacking the Alaska Supreme Court after the Court rules against the Board Majority gerrymander.

  8. Most interesting part of this article comes at the end. Eventually, Alaskans will figure out that Mr. Kendall is a grasping, over-reaching partisan from which nothing good comes.

  9. Melanie was just your average rural Alaskan for years. Partying at the BOT, working a job. raising a child. She has risen thru the ranks at Kawerak in Nome and has gained power over that time.
    What is that old saying about power corrupting?

  10. For all the whining and carping about how supposedly liberal and perfidious the Alaska Supreme Court is in the comments to this publication, the court ruled correctly and promptly to deny the request. Maybe the Alaska Supreme Court is just doing the job to which they are assigned by the Alaska Constitution after all. Could it be that simple?

  11. Everyone is doing the best they know to do. Disagreements happen. The process meets requirments or not. We will see or a universe of other outcomes may be discovered.

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