Beer-gate: Capitol ping pong update - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, May 14, 2021
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Beer-gate: Capitol ping pong update

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Speaker Louise Stutes says, of the beer party in the Capitol complex last week, there’s nothing to see … move along … no news.

But she is passing out punishment, regardless, and threatening to fire anyone who talks about the party.

[Read: Beer pong, leg wrestling, and a terse memo from Legislative Affairs to clean up]

Updates:

  • It’s reported that two Majority legislative aides were sent home on leave without pay for attending the party, in violation of the Capitol campus Covid policy.
  • One of the aides put on leave is said to be attached to the office of  Rep. Zack Fields, who is one of the most forceful supporters of extending the statewide emergency orders for Covid — HB 76.
  • The other is said to be associated with the House Majority Press Office.
  • Fields did not apologize on Wednesday for breaking the Legislature’s Covid rules by allowing select members of the public, including a Hilcorp executive, inside the building, while Rep. Kelly Merrick and Rep. Sara Rasmussen did apologize for allowing members of the public to attend the party, which they characterized as benign.
  • One of the partiers gave a key card to a member of the public, who should not have been in the building, to go and get more beer.
  • The blogger who attended the party has been making threats against elected officials and aides, warning them not to talk about the party. His attendance at the party was in violation of the Capitol Covid rules.
  • The legislators involved in the party will not be punished because Speaker Stutes rules over a fragile caucus and needs the votes of Rep. Fields and Rep. Merrick, and to a lesser extent Rep. Rasmussen. Legislative aides are dispensable, so are getting thrown under the bus and taking the punishment for the speakeasy party.
  • Minority caucus staff members pitched in and bought a $250 gift certificate for pizza for the janitorial staff who had to clean up after the Majority party last week.
  • During a community council meeting in Rep. Kelly Merrick’s Eagle River district on Thursday, she was questioned by people who asked how they could ever trust her again.
  • Must Read Alaska has put in a public records request to the Legislative Council and Legislative Affairs Agency for the video of that party, but we’re not optimistic.
  • Rep. David Eastman and Rep. Chris Kurka have sent a letter to Speaker Stutes, asking her to release the video of the party:

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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

  • They weren’t socially distancing evidently. Whose names are on the deeds to the properties? Corporation signatories for the people? Or, is the corporation owned by foreign entities now? We are distanced from the public use of the buildings. Is this our policy to distance, intimdate the owners? Who likes the policy? These are serious times.
    Perhaps we should affirmatively change it affirmatively stating the building use is for instruction of public servants by the people they represent. It would look better. More in line with our precious, intact Constitutions. Corporate cultural problems.

  • Anyways, NSA has got the info. All of it. They may be more operational than participants would like. Choose respect.

  • Someone needs to file an ethics complaint for violation of open meetings. Who knows what was discussed?

  • Covering up bad behavior for votes, seems to be a trend these days. Alaska deserves better.

  • If they had had pulltabs, Stutes would have been there!

  • Meanwhile, back at the Ranch… this session has been going on for how many days and is there a budget ready to act on? Sadly the partisan bickering continues with R’s playing got you and the D’s acting like teenage children hiding their activities from their parents.

  • Blah blah blah, more of the same. Nixon would not have resigned if he was a democrat.

  • So the Pillsbury dough boy blogger is threatening legislators and aides?

    This should be enough to expel him from capital grounds immediately.

  • Release the video.

  • We deserve better than this.

  • Zack Fields is the most hypocritical member of the AKleg at this point and should lose all committee appointments, since it is obvious that he is a two face liar.
    Landfield should have his $65,000 Press Pass suspended by the governor’s office for direct violations of capital policies.
    This event should not get swept under the rug as these legislators obviously have a disregard for the integrity of the public’s business in Juneau.

  • This is Eagle River’s chance, maybe the last chance, getting rid of Rep. Merrick. Merrick probably thinks Eagle River Republicans are too nice and forgiving not to push her out like a Democrat would do. That’s why her apology sounded hollow.

    I’d be surprised if Rasmussen’s and Fields’ districts arent getting tired, yet, of these two having escapades together. Fire them all, then they can all have more time with one another.

    I am sick and tired seeing employees allowed to goof off, cutting corners passing on extra work to harder working employees, and they still have a job. Get rid of this group.

  • Always remember folks, when it comes to framing a Socialist Democratic society there are RULES FOR THEE, NONE FOR ME. Fields, a staunch supporter of the draconian emergency order crap attended a party against emergency order rules. I also dig the fact a Hillcorp exec was there….. guess the CBC still exists.

  • It’s unbelievable these are parents and they could still are partying like a single 21 year old while their children are home. I expected better from these people because of their positions. I was taught to expect they know better. They are no better than that single parent leaving their child home with a babysitter while they go out bar hopping just to get a little booze, attention, and affection. There are single parents exhibiting better character than anyone of these participants.

  • Who gave out the key card? The Hilcorp exec needs to pack up his office.

  • Hmmmm….. if it’s ok to drink in a locked down State complex, does that mean it’s okay for the homeless to avoid bad weather and drink in State Court houses?

    In western Alaska it’s a felony to get caught at an airport with a single jug or six-pack of beer with the intent to fly to your home in a Village, which is “dry”. We have a State Trooper WANT Team to enforce the word “Dry”. If they catch you with a single bottle of booze, , youre arrested for attempted importation with intent to sell, a FELONY.

    For Rep. Stutes to allow drinking in a State designated “Dry zone” because she needs their Votes, while not have given equal weight to the Multiple Thousands of Native Alaskans with criminal records for doing even less than what these legislators have done, is criminal in itself.

    Think about it. It’s not legal to get drunk or drink in State Buildings, yet the State makes big business out of arresting people, that aren’t in State buildings and aren’t even drinking the bottle they have stashed in a bag.

    I hate to say it, but in this case White Privilege for powerful people breaking the law, blinds Speaker Stutes to inequality of thousands of Rural Alaskans that wanted to smuggle a 12 pack or a couple jugs to their house and kick back and watch a football game in peace, yet end up with Felonies and Misdemeanors on their records, for actually doing less than what these legislators did, is unforgivable.

    Rural Alaskans get arrested for INTENT. Legislators on the power side of the isle get away with ignoring the Statutory Formula, Drunken Antics in a forbidden zone and lying to the public on a regular basis.

    Turn the Video Loose.

  • They are all Losers and liars. “DO AS I SAY, the rules don’t apply to us.”
    Fire all aides who were involved in this party. These legislators can’t survive without these aides. One of these aides should stand up against these bullies. To clear their name and tell us What was going on and Who was at this party, maybe these aides can get a job in the future.

  • There is no question that the video is a public record, but you’d probably have to get to the AKSC to get it, and in these times even that isn’t a certainty. Any confidentiality that a member or staffer of the Legislature asserts is only in Legislative Branch rules, not in statute. The “confidential personnel matter” so commonly asserted by the State really only applies to classified and partially-exempt employees in the Executive Branch subject to the State Personnel Act at AS 39.25.080. The Deputy COS is exempt and the legislators and staffers are also exempt. The lobbyist and Landfill have no privacy rights in a public place.

  • The unbridled arrogance of these public officials is an outrage. Who in their right mind would think it’s okay to sneak on to public property at night to party with lobbyists and media blogger hacks? Now Speaker Stutes thinks it’s okay to hide the evidence from the public and not take action against this group of Legislators who lack the common sense and decency to respect our public property? Their actions cast doubt about what is actually going on in Juneau and bring shame on the entire Legislative Branch. This puts the community of Juneau in a distasteful light and reaffirms the “Sodom and Gomorrah” reputation it has around the rest of the state. I hope Governor Dunleavy has the good sense to take meaningful corrective action against any of his staff who participated in this breach of public trust.

  • Stutes needs to be fired!!!!!!!!!

  • GREY MITCHELL, the legislature works very hard to continually earn and reaffirm the disgust that all but progressives hold for them. Like the Kardashians, to progressives our legislators are idols and heroes.

  • WILLY, I certainly cannot argue with your position. So why do Alaska Natives overwhelmingly vote for holier-than-thou progressives who paternalistically treat them like children?

  • Relax everybody. I’m sure the video will be uploaded to Pornhub soon.

  • They should be trespassed as so many Alaskans are. Constituents have a right to be there to instruct them regarding constituent views on issues. Yes you are there to actually have meetings WITH CONSTITUENTS. If you won’t do this we are not authorized to send you your stipends or other benefits from the public trust fund.

  • Yeah, like we all don’t have better things to do.

  • Any broken eardrums?

  • While I don’t fault anyone for having a good time, one has to question the lack of judgement and the hypocrisy. Instances like this – and there have been others – is why the capital needs to be moved from Juneau to a reasonably accessible part of Alaska.

  • Nothing has changed in Juneau. The parties (and much more titillating stuff) have always been happening, and if the ppl really knew what goes on with your legislators and aides there… well, I’d venture to guess heads would literally roll! I mean seriously! Why do you think nothing gets done! Lol!
    The Capitol is in the wrong city. We all know it. There’s no accountability because it’s kinda like Vegas, the secrets are supposed to stay there. Oops… I said too much😜
    So, If this is the start of clean up time, let that video fly. Eyes need to be opened.

  • Don’t just write comments here. Contact your representative and tell them you expect a direct response to this, not just letters to the Speaker. Tell them to take a stand on the House floor, lobby other representatives, even the Minority can have a voice if they stand together . Don’t just stand by while some low level aides take the fall for these irresponsible “Legislators”. Also write the Governor and ask him to publicly address this and the participation by one of his administration employees (remember the employee has rights to a fair disciplinary process outside of public discourse).

    No more silent majority!

  • Always the little guy getting the ax.

  • Now that ping-pong and hoops are state crimes wonder what is next? Checkers? Get a life people, we have been demanding both sides to talk, when they do we complain.

  • It was the Alaska version of spring break/girls gone wild.

  • HERB RATCLIFF, we don’t pay people to play beer pong or checkers. The state is in pretty dire times and warrants more than a frat party to solve the current crisis. It shouldn’t be Animal House in Juneau and some reps need to go. I want the video posted so constituents can see just how our legislature works.

  • The issue Herb is that we have to live by strict mandates and guidelines here in Juneau. 100% mask wearing, social distancing, capacity limitations, scolded for having friends in our homes, scolded for traveling, daily COVID counts with doom and gloom. Meanwhile they all party, Gavin Newsome style, on Government property without a care in the world. Yes, I have a problem with that.

  • You seem to be missing the point Herb. I would not have such a problem with it if they got together at a
    private residence or a bar. Although granting such exclusive access to media/lobbyist types is still very questionable. You realize that they did this in a public facility right? Am I to believe that you think this type of carousing in public facilities by government leaders should be considered acceptable? Perhaps you think all state employees should be able to use their key cards to sneak into their offices at night to get drunk with their buddies and leave a mess for janitorial staff?

  • Okay Herb. Glad to see you came to your senses. Release the tapes!!

  • Two reasons.
    1. Democrats control the public radio stations, which hate anything conservative. For remote Villages, this is the news source.
    2. Democrats are twice as smart as Republicans every election cycle. They throw tons of money for mailers and flights.

  • You are missing the point Herb. Would you be okay with all the rest of the State employees sneaking into their offices to get drunk with friends and lobbyists?

  • I live in Fairbanks and have never been to Juneau, but the activities of playing basketball in a gymnasium seem OK to me. I think getting some aerobic exercise is good for warding off Covid-19. Ping pong is an excellent activity too. As far as beer drinking, I only drink non-alcoholic beer, and only once in awhile. Consumption of hard-core beer is OK, I suppose, if done in moderation. I don’t know what the rules are for consuming alcohol in that building.

    Maybe the biggest no-no was not sweeping up after eating potato chips, or whatever they had. But maybe they could not find a push broom.

  • Release the Hounds.. I mean videos.

  • You’re exactly right

  • Beer must kill the Kung flu unless they were masked and we won’t know until we see the video.

  • There are many instances in history where citizens have tolerated high taxation, war, excessive bureaucracy, etc., but a two-tiered system of justice seems to be the proverbial ” straw that broke the camels back” and led to more then a few empires to topple. This is a perfect example of “rules are for thee, not me” the elites so consistently portray in , not just Alaska, but in all branches of federal government. It will have serious consequences if left unchecked.

  • AK: “So why do Alaska Natives overwhelmingly vote for holier-than-thou progressives…”

    So, when are you going to start burning crosses on our front yards?

  • JOSEPHDJ, I am certainly not burning crosses. My closest friends and coworkers are Alaska Natives. But we avoid discussing politics because many of their political views conflict with mine. One friend (Athabascan) and I discussed it one night and he too is puzzled and was voted out of Tribal Council over his conservative views that current federal policies and paternalistic programs cause great harm to his people. But money talks and ‘free’ money is both addictive and has consequences (in relation to pushing federal money at them in lieu of letting them develop their rightful land).

  • Four words come to mind: Gong Show; and Reprobate Mind.

  • Willy Keppel, in your comment above, you state, “…White Privilege for powerful people breaking the law, blinds Speaker Stutes to inequality…”
    .
    You have unequivocally charged Speaker Stutes with blatant racism. A predictable political cudgel that no one finds surprising and everyone finds boring (yawn).

  • I hear they were laughing and having a fun time. I like to laugh too. Please bring out the tape so we can all laugh happily togther…

  • Grey Mitchell: So happy to see you speaking out against what you feel like is government corruption! Were you planning on weighing in on the fact that the Commissioner of Labor dismissed $450,000 in citations for the division that YOU are the former Director of publicly?

  • All legislators and aides who have integrity, honor and respect for the Rule of Law and their government obligation to act in a principled way in office need to have courage and stand up loud and clear to condemn wrongdoing, lawlessness, and the absence of ethics in the legialature. Democrats are Marxists but Republicans are showing themselves to be immoral and dishonest except for a few good ones such as Reinbold, Shower, Kurka and Eastman and a few others good ones. Fairbanks’ Hopkins, Wool, and Kawasaki are the worst. We do need to keep emails and contact information to contact everyone and hold their feet to the fire.

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