PROBE EXPANDS FROM HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TO CORRECTIONS
Two members of the Alaska House of Representatives sent a letter to newly confirmed Department of Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom, expressing concern about the internal disciplinary processes in a recent intra-agency incident.
In their letter, Rep. Dave Talerico and Rep. Josh Revak named Kendall Rhyne, a state probation officer who was involved in the recent free-speech suppression incident that led to the resignations of four Human Rights Commission directors and commissioners.
The incident started when former Human Rights Executive Director Marti Buscaglia ordered a workman to remove his truck from the agency’s parking lot because of its gun decal. She did so by using her official state business card, with a handwritten note on the back. Rhyne, the probation officer, also left his Corrections Department business card on the worker’s truck at the same time.
Buscaglia was an executive and has since resigned. But Rhyne is protected by his union and the public is not likely to find out what disciplinary matters, if any, took place.
“While we are gravely concerned that any state employee would try and use his or her government position to try and suppress free speech – an offense we believe is worthy of punishment on its own – we are equally as disturbed by new information that suggests patterns of troubling internal behaviors and abuses of power within government agencies,” Talerico and Revak wrote.
The letter asks the commissioner to provide details about the department’s processes regarding complaints about workplace misconduct. It asks if the commissioner is aware that a DOC employee might have been turned away by the Human Rights Commission when attempting to file a complaint against another employee. And it asks about Kendall Rhyne specifically.
“No government agency is above the law, and neither are classified employees,” Rep. Talerico said. “We have heard and seen enough to know that this is worth an investigation, and we are going to get to the bottom of it.”