Art Chance: What’s in that election report and why can’t public see it?

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By ART CHANCE

I spent an interesting hour or so last week with Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer.   I wouldn’t say we’re friends; I was in government too long to really have friends, but we know each other and can converse as honestly as political types converse.   

I’m associated with a group of old guys, mostly guys, mostly old anyway, who have a few hundred years of governmental and political experience. And while we’re mostly out to pasture, we still like to meddle in things and tell people what they should have done. 

So, we had a chat with the lieutenant governor about election integrity, mail ballots, witness signatures, Dominion machines, and most interestingly, the Kelly Tshibaka report on the Division of Elections.

In the early days of the Dunleavy Administration, Tshibaka was something of a minister without portfolio who had a fancy pedigree and a resume as an Inspector General for the U.S. Government. Gov. Mike Dunleavy tasked her with doing an investigative report on the Division of Elections. I’ll assume it was for “the Administration,” but I’ve worked in administrations where the governor and the lieutenant governor weren’t all that friendly, so I don’t know whose idea it was and what the real purpose was.   

Tshibaka produced an investigative report, which since she was working for him, I assume she gave to the governor.   It appears the governor gave it to the lieutenant governor, who has responsibility for the Division of Elections.   Somewhere in there, the Attorney General got involved.

It was supposed to be a meeting of allies if not friends, so I couldn’t subject Lt. Gov. Meyer to the withering cross-examination my old advocate’s brain was screaming for.  Meyer is a former senator, so I assure you he knew little of the ways of the Executive Branch.  Most of Gov. Dunleavy’s appointees had little or no Executive Branch experiences so I don’t know how they looked at things.   

In my time as an appointed official, I was a jaded, cynical, long-time bureaucrat who would never involve the Attorney General in any of my business unless I wanted to delay or hide something or knew it was destined to go to court, and even then, I’d wait as long as I dared.   

Rule One: If you’re a Republican-elected or -appointed official, the Department of Law is not your friend.

Since I couldn’t do that cross-examination, I don’t know if Meyer went to Attorney General Treg Taylor for advice or word leaked out that there was some sort of report . Somebody filed a Public Records Act request for the report.   Alaska’s Public Records Act dates back to the days when so-called “Sunshine Laws” were very fashionable and it is pretty wide open.   Other than a very limited number of explicit protections, if the State produces it or causes it to be produced, it is a public record and the public is entitled to inspect the record.   If you want copies, they can charge for the copies, but that is a clue they don’t like you and aren’t going to be helpful. In any event, the Tshibaka report wound up in the care of the AG and has never seen the light of day since.

Gov. Sarah Palin and Annette Kreitzer, her Commissioner of Administration, struggled mightily with this issue, but the struggle is futile; if you don’t want to read it on the front page of the newspaper that hates you most, don’t do it, don’t write it, or record it. I was a pretty controversial figure for many years; try finding something that isn’t a pleading or a published formal document on State letterhead with my name on it.

Sen. Mike Shower is trying to advance some election integrity legislation. Of course, there are a lot of people in the State Legislature whose last desire is election integrity, especially those whose day job is with a union. Shower is a sitting Senator and he says the lieutenant governor and the AG won’t give him a state document. There is absolutely no legal reason under the Public Records Act to deny release of that report to any citizen of Alaska, and especially not to a member of the Legislature.   (A caveat; I’m given to understand that it has some reference to the criminal case against Rep. Gabriel LeDoux, and there is an explicit confidentiality protection for information related to an on-going criminal matter.)  

I’ve dealt with some of these requests from legislators when I believed that it was all about a State employee trying to use political influence. I just sent the requesting legislator a copy of AS 39.25.080, the law controlling State employee record confidentiality and asked them if they would adhere to it if we provided the record. If they agreed, it was a crime to give the record to their favorite ADN reporter, so we never had any real problem with it.

So, we got a concert of mumbling and dissembling from Meyer. He carried on about how it wasn’t finished. All he needs to do is read AS 40.25.220 and he’ll find that drafts and notes are public records. If you produce it as a State employee or officer, it is a public record and the only way you can avoid disclosing it is to throw it in Gastineau Channel; you’ll get charged with destroying the public record. You be the judge of which is best for your career.

I don’t even know what is in the Tshibaka report; it may say that the Alaska Division of Elections is the best in the world. But if it does, why are they hiding it? In my days as an advocate, I had a simple rule; if it was there to come out in hearing, it was going to come out, so it was a helluva lot better for it to come out from you than from the adversary. Meyer and Dunleavy need to stop hiding behind or listening to the lawyers and just stand up with this.   Wondering what it says is worse than knowing what it says.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. 

24 COMMENTS

  1. So Art why haven’t you signed the petition @ petitions.net
    Go to menu and type forensic audit then sign it with many other concerned Alaskans. Obviously Myer and dunleavy are hiding
    What is it going to take to get our state back?
    I’m suggesting passionate people who take this corruption personally!
    Any other suggestions?

    • I don’t think Alaska’s election records are auditable, and I think it was intended to be that way. They carry on about recounts, but a recount only validates the garbage.

      • Is it OK if the federales military look it over? I wonder…if that’s already happened on the qt? With a tiny population like we have it could be over in a flash and (almost) nobiddy would be the wiser…It’s just America and our elections…if system’s has been manipulated who could know otherwise and does it matter on our calypso to communism. Certainly not the Dutch nor Chinawe.

  2. I have an answer. The government is corrupted.

    “It is one big club, and you ain’t in it.”

    It is not left vs right. It is the establishment (politics, news, entertainment) vs the people.

  3. Our governments have become a clown show.
    Appropriate it seems since The People are fed only bread and circuses.
    Not much has changed in 2000 years.

  4. Exhibit 10245 of Dunleavy’s ineptness.
    I’m beginning to think the man can’t throw out cat litter without screwing it up.

    Seems they have something to hide. My guess: they knew the election process was flawed but ignored it.

  5. Honesty needs not to be hidden. Unfortunately, evil works in shadows and darkness, and whatever we do learn from it will be a work of manipulation and dishonesty.

  6. Thank you Art Chance, reading your commentary is always a “window to the world of politics”, bless you for speaking out. Your opinion and knowledge has merit and truth.

  7. I boisterously laughed out loud at the second paragraph, and got an education from the rest of the article. Thank you Mr. Chance.

  8. This will have consequences, so be careful what you ask for… The swamp is hiding something, the unions, the cemetery workers, and maybe political parties too – very convenient to blame it all on Gabby and her well-known foibles. Really encourages our faith in elective government.

  9. Art,
    campaign money for Al Gross came up from the Lower 48 along with “ballot harvestors.” They spent months in both Anchorage and Fairbanks collecting votes from people who typically do not vote. Scott Kendall was running this kind of operation too.

    • Yes, and someone broke into the computer. Thanks for the great effort , Meyer. You can’t say anything is wrong with our process without exposing your incompetence. Shame on you and our Governor as well. Voting is the entire basis of a free society, and you can quote me on that. We need a new sheriff, and I am too old for this b.s. Move on or put your badge on straight and fly right.

  10. Art Chance is spot on regarding the Tshibaka memo being a public document thereby making it available to the public upon request. The excuse of not releasing the report due to a reference to the investigation into Rep. Gabriel LeDoux electoral activities does not hold water. The report can be redacted where the LeDoux case is discussed in the report. The Governor’s administration purports to being transparent. Transparency equates to information being handled with maximum disclosure with minimum delay. The legislature (Sen. Shower) needs every bit of information relative to the procedures Alaska’s elections.

  11. OK, I read the article and was a little perplexed. Assumptions were made such as Art assumed that the report was handed to the governor. But there was no proof of that. All that Art really tells us is that the report ended up with the AG. We have no way of knowing what might have transpired between the governor and the Lt. governor, if at all, from reading this article. If I am sitting in a court, this doesn’t even qualify as good hearsay. The only thing we have here is a report that is apparently with the AG at this point, and that hasn’t been released to the public. Meyer says it isn’t finished? Mumbling and dissembling? Why didn’t he approach the AG? If he really wants to know why the report isn’t released, he should have followed it further instead if insinuations.

    • I guess in your world “perplexed” is another word for stupid, or perhaps ignorant. She worked for the Governor; who else would she report to? Nobody is going to let you sit in court unless the prosecution is out of challenges and the defense attorney sits you on a jury because of your obvious lack of analytical thinking skills.

  12. It seems pretty simple to me. The State could release the document and have any questionable parts re Rep LeDoux redacted. Pretty simple.

  13. I must say that one of the best features of Tier-1 Retirement status is it enables a (very) few guys like Art Chance to make profound revelations in the public arena without fear of retribution. Thank God for the 1st Amendment and men with conscience and character.

  14. Somehow the paper shuffle moved this issue to the side but lots of us know the Democrats commit fraudulent acts for years on end, so now we can say Gov Dunleavey and Lt Gov Meier are part of that whole SYSTEM. By the way, there are still lots if sealed indictments to make arrests and some are for crooks in Alaska.

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