Dan Fagan: Conservative legislators should quit covering for RINOs



It’s time for the Alaska Republican Party to come clean with its members and admit too many elected politicians with an R in front of their name are not conservative. Not even close. 

This has become increasingly true in the state Senate. 

Sen. Natasha von Imhof perfectly described the mentality some Republican senators hold when she described as greedy those favoring following the Permanent Fund dividend statutory formula law currently on the books and paying the full dividend. It’s not often you hear someone who frequently travels in her family’s private jet accuse others of greediness.  

Von Imhof isn’t the only Republican-in-Name-Only in the Senate. There are Senators Gary Stevens, Bert Stedman, Click Bishop, and Josh Revak. For these RINO’s and like-minded seven Senate Democrats, the priority is government and the slew of special interests lined up to its oversized and generous trough. 

Alaska’s feeble private sector lost 23,000 jobs last year. If legislators would follow the law and pay the full $3,500 dividend this year, it would provide a big boost for the private sector and help many of the small businesses that have either closed or are on life support. 

But with Democrats and RINOs outnumbering conservatives in the House and Senate, the government sector takes precedent over the private sector.  

The question then must be asked: Why do authentic conservatives continue to organize and form a caucus with the likes of Stevens, Stedman, Bishop, Revak, and von Imhof?

A source tells me conservative senators considered at the beginning of the year not organizing with Stevens, Stedman, Bishop, Revak, and von Imhof. I’m told they did so in hopes the RINOs might be willing to support their efforts to restore election integrity in Alaska. For the Senate’s conservative Republicans, this was a priority. 

They set up their caucus as one where if eight members support an issue the others must follow. They thought they had eight conservative votes meaning Stevens, Stedman, Bishop, Revak, and von Imhof would have to support their priorities. 

They counted on conservative votes from Sens. Shelley Hughes, Mike Shower, Mia Costello, Roger Holland, Robert Myers, Lora Reinbold, David Wilson, and Peter Micciche. 

But something happened the conservative members didn’t see coming. Wilson and Micciche began to flip flop and vote with the Democrats and RINOs. 

The real shocker came when Micciche single handedly killed the full $3,500 dividend in the Senate despite promising to support it during the campaign. It was Cathy Giessel all over again. 

Senate conservatives also did not anticipate Republicans losing the House and believed they had enough support for an election integrity bill in that body. But then RINOs Kelly Merrick, Louise Stutes, and Sara Rasmussen abandoned the Republican caucus, giving control of the House to Democrats. Any hope of cleaning up Alaska’s elections died when that happened. 

It’s difficult to blame Senate conservatives for trying to form a majority with RINOs. But at what point are they going to look at the long game? 

When genuine conservatives organize with the likes of Stevens, Stedman, Bishop, Revak, and von Imhof, they give them cover. Refusing to organize with RINOs would at least show voters who the true conservatives are. 

The result is the same even if conservatives were in the minority. Year after year the special interests and the Juneau Swamp always win. 

Alaska’s state government has been disgustingly and morbidly obese since former Gov. Sarah Palin gave us the largest tax increase in state history with ACES. 

According to a graph released this week by the think tank, Alaska Policy Forum, the state’s budget, not including federal funds or Permanent Fund spending, grew from $7.5 billion in 2010 to close to $12 billion in 2015. The 2015 budget, by far the highest in state history to date, was the last one submitted by Parnell before leaving office. 

Alaska spends considerably more per capita than any other state. We hover around $15,000 per person each year. That’s triple the comparably populated South Dakota.

Donna Arduin worked with Gov. Michael Dunleavy as budget advisor when he was first elected. She’s one of the most respected budget advisors in the nation working with governors in California, Florida, Michigan, and New York. Arduin told me Alaska’s state budget was the most wasteful and bloated she had ever seen. 

And yet RINOs and Democrats continue to fight to maintain government bloat and largess. They claim the state can’t afford the statutorily required full dividend this year.   

But look closer at the numbers. The Permanent Fund earned more than $16 billion in the past year. At this time last year the fund was worth $65.3 billion. As of June 14, it was worth $81.4 billion. The fund earned more than an average of $43 million a day over the past 12 months. It took the fund less than two months to earn the money to pay the statutorily required dividend of $3,500 this year. 

Keep in mind the feds also kicked in an additional $6.5 billion in Covid relief funds to Alaska. We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending one. 

Alaska RINOs and Democrats are all about the health and vitality of government, not the working class. Isn’t it time for conservative legislators to stop organizing with them? It’s simply not working. 

Dan Fagan hosts the number one rated morning drive talk show on Newsradio 650 KENI. 


  1. Agree! But! I don’t regret my vote for U.S. Senator Sullivan. I’d rather vote for him over Al Gross,. But! Someone who comes up as a stronger conservative principled candidate who doesn’t flip flop according to the whims of the day and they put country first Sullivan better watch out cause I am voting for them.

  2. Good article. I live in Click Bishop’s Senate district. Next year, I’m going to concentrate on getting both he and Lisa Murkowski an expulsion from their political offices. Enough!

  3. How about Dan Fagan go over the budget line-by-line and tell us where he would cut? Medicaid – that’s a juicy target. Pioneer Homes? No – not enough money to gain. Unemployment aid? Education?
    I’m all for cutting the size of government but let’s be realistic. You will never be able to do that as long as we pass out a Dividend. Anyone that supports a $3500 Universal Basic Income (Dividend) is the real RINO in the room. And as a matter of fact – we might just label you a Socialist.

  4. Great article and true. Keep spreading the word, Dan.

    The only real solution to this mess is a constitutional convention. The people know the deal and will do the right thing when given the opportunity to vote.

    What’s missing is what Senator Ted Stevens told me. “Jim, give your word and keep your word.” Politicians who run for office saying one thing then changing their convenient mind deserve to be shown the door.

  5. The Dems “tag-team” the election process. They have a list of reliable left leaning candidates who will run for whichever contested office, so it doesn’t really matter if some of them get voted out. Fighting that tactic is a lot like playing “Whack-A-Mole”.
    The GOP can’t copy that tactic because they don’t have enough Repubs who are loyal to the party. Too many RINO’s. The GOP is seduced by “numbers” and welcomes anyone and their pit-viper onboard.
    The Libs and independent parties also have that weakness.

  6. @Chris Nyman – Anyone who actually knows anything about State government, which doesn’t seem to include you, could reduce the size of the Operating Budget by 20 – 30% simply be redrawing the org charts and moving the structure into the 21st, or even late 20th Century.

    The State’s structure is essentially that of the WWII Era Territorial Goverment. It is designed for travel by steamship and railroad, communication by telegraph, dial telephones, and first class mail, manual typewriters and carbon manifolds. Everything is done in triplicate or quadruplicate within departments and in the larger departments that have regional structures, the organizational structure is duplicated in each region. The few consolidations that have taken place have not reduced or flattened the organizations. DOT&PF is still the Departments of Highways and Public Works, but with a new name and it still has a regional structure of independent fiefdoms and hereditary positions. Health and So-called Services is still where competenc goes to die and nobody cares what anything costs. It’s just had Pioneer Homes and Medicaid Expansion added to it.

    The government is designed to employ as many people as possible and especially to provide as many patronage appointments as possible to run all the fragmented organizations. This means that everybody running one of the unneccesary org units has at least one friend in high places, so it is damnably difficult to get anyone to even talk about reorganization and even more difficult to get anyone to do it.

    Some of us advanced a plan to dramatically restructure the Executive Branch in the Murkowski Administration which got the Governor’s approval for a substantial start by reoganizing and centralizing Personnel and Labor Relations and IT. We planned the HR/LR reorg with a trusted few by dark of night, called the “stakeholders” into the Gov’s Conference Room and told them what their world would look like tomorrow and their choice was wheter to be in it or not. On the IT side the Administration chickened out to the “stakeholders” and had endless meetings with them to try to get “buy in.” At the end of the Administration IT was if anything even less centralized and reorganized than it had been at the beginning. The HR/LR centralization worked but the bureaucracy hated it and the Admin Svcs. Directors went to war against it. Dianne Corso and I had enough personal horsepower to keep it in place but after our retirements, the bureaucracy sprang on the Palin administration and got most of their old power back. The Dunleavy Administration has taken some steps to recentralize HR/LR, but the departments still have too much influence.

  7. Funny how some people just can see black because of the red.

    Fagan just explained that enough money to pay the $3,500 dividend was earned apart from any other revenue stream for the state of Alaska. It’s called the Permanent Fund and it doesn’t care a whit about what’s going on in Alaska , good or bad. It just keeps on earning money thru a miracle called compound interest on investments. Chris, the PF don’t care if you triple the money going to the Pioneer Home or whatever. It’s just gonna keep on earning money for Alaska and bringing it home to Alaska like a faithful golden retriever and just trust that we, the master, will appreciate and use wisely what it returns. The fact is just two months of the PF earnings could have given us our full dividend of $ 3,500 and the remaining ten months could have gone to the CBR and the very hungry state budget, including your Pioneer Home!! You can call me a socialist if you like but since childhood I’ve had an uncanny ability to know and protect what’s mine, and that includes my dividend which you are intent on reducing by whatever means possible ( including name calling).

  8. Thank you Art Chance! – you have much more history than I do and a lot of apropos experience. Palin’s biggest struggle was trusting the “advisors” in the bureaucracy, which resulted in continuing growth of govt. Fagan, you haven’t learned anything – you’re just spouting off on Palin and Parnell perhaps because that is all the history you have any clue about? Or is there something personal between you and them? Why don’t you mention Bill Walker? Have you looked at the percentage of growth under Steve Cowper and Tony Knowles? Far be it from me to ever agree with one sentence from communist Chris Nyman, but this one is a gem – “How about Dan Fagan go over the budget line-by-line and tell us where he would cut?” Have you ever examined the State budget? Or an organizational chart of State departments? Do you even have your own personal budget? Have you looked at the amount of unnecessary State regulation and the regulators writing them? Are you taking into consideration the legislature during any administration? Alaska governors are not autocrats. As a municipal employee, I had interaction with both Palin and Parnell and found them to be good governors, unable to do the things they wanted with the bureaucracy – their hands were tied by the usual trouble – democrats, bureaucrats, unions, and media. Clueless you are Dan Fagan – perhaps you need a double-layer face diaper like the Faux Xi? You have this wonderful public forum Dan – how about being helpful and constructive, instead of just slamming your fellow Republican. Idea development takes work Dan – it’s a lot tougher than ignorantly bellyaching – but good ideas well communicated will gain a great following. Try helping us for a change.

  9. The dividend is a wash. It has zero impact. There will be annual PFD’s per the Alaska Corporation bylaw in perpetuity. Alaska has slightly more than one percent of its land in private fee. Most resource values have inherently been taken by the state of Alaska corporation from that one percent. The resource value was not a loving gift from my heart to your wallets. It has value which is expressed and represented by the distribution in the PFD enactment. Since foreign interests (BLM, USFS, USParks, DOD, MARITIME REFUGES, ARR, if I’v skipped anyone I’m deeply apologetic) own and control 99 percent of Alaska not one thin dime of our government funds should trespass into their benefts but our budget is for services for the few people who can stay here without going insane. Thirteen billion annually sounds about right Yes? WRONG! Try again and get it right.

  10. PS: If this is too hard for you I get it. WHY NOT QUIT? Not every high school graduate has strong finance experience these days ‘specially if they’re prone to beer drinking. Rent a couple of conference rooms in Anchorage and invite the public. You’ll be surprised by how quick the process zooms along.

  11. Nyman is an old school. He hasn’t learned a damn thing. Attention:. Nyman, please read Dan’s article five more times……..then read Art’s comment 20 times. There will be a quiz afterwards. If you pass, free rootbeer floats with double scoops of vanilla icecream waiting for you.

  12. I agree. AM drive talkshow hosts should do the same. Starting with the empty suit in the Governor’s office

    Don’t you think?

  13. Perhaps if Covid-19 vaccinations don’t stay on pace for the populace, an incentive of $3,000 will be offered to go get it.

  14. I find it deliciously ironic that Chris Nyman is calling people socialists while demanding the state confiscate money that legally belongs to the people so the state can spend it how the state deems fit.

  15. The purpose of the fund was to limit government by putting sums out of reach of their greedy mitts. It was a device to impede the growth of government. Original intent is primal.

  16. “It took the fund less than two months to earn the money to pay the statutorily required dividend of $3,500 this year.” It took the legislators five months to pass a partial BLOATED budget with a $525 dividend.

  17. You are wrong Dan. Paying every citizen $3500 is not going to bring back 23,000 jobs. Last year the collective income of Alaskans was up 1.4 billion dollars over 2019. This was due to the federal dollars handed out in Ak. The average family receiving around $14,000. The permanent fund has been going for 40 years. Our economy, according to you, still needs more free money to create jobs.
    The way to build the economy is to attract investment not to continue to spend down your savings.

  18. Anthony you are 100% correct. All one has to do is read Governor Jay’s fears about big government. He saw it locally in Bristol Bay. That is why Governor Jay wanted to enshrine the PFD, out of reach from the politicians.
    On trusting snake in the grass politicians; Josh Revak made an uninvited appearance at our annual Iditarod party of about 75 people this past Spring on the Yentna River. He and his family were fed and treated respectfully.

    There were a few in our group who were skeptical of you Josh.

    If we all had known who you really are Josh, we would have turned our backs to you, just as you have turned your back to us.
    We will not forget.

  19. Chris, if you’ve been living here for many years and received a PFD.
    It’s time for you to stop taking your PFD.
    What don’t you understand stand. It’s the law, it’s our PFD, for all Alaskans.

    If the government can’t pay its bills, stop buying new cars ever years and stealing money from your kids Piggy banks. I’m serious, it’s breaking the jar and taking all the pennies and nickels your kid saved, and gluing the jar back together. Then telling your kids lies about why the piggy bank broke. Even that little precious child knows how they want to spend their piggy bank money. If that kid wants to spend it all on candy and then their broke, it their choice.

    Yes Vote Out all these RINOs, stop the stealing of our money/PFD
    Plus if we didn’t have a fund to steal from, them what’s the government to do? Yes, cut the pork.

    • The money is the State’s to be distributed as seen fit by the AK Legislature, according to Ak Supreme Court. Can’t get more legal than that IMO.

  20. Bill,

    Pray tell, if the state isn’t the people then what is it? Do the words “We the people” ring a bell perhaps? Maybe you recall this portion of the constitution “All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the people as a whole.”
    The money belongs to the people, Bill. The Legislature serves the people, Bill, not the other way around

    • Oh for Pete’s sake Steve-O, the State collects all forms of revenue and it appropriates it as its Legislature sees fit and there is no way that money is the People’s until it’s appropriated to them.
      For example, the State gives money regularly to the Gasline and other pet projects and you would have us think that belongs to the people. Get a grip.

  21. government has no money that is does not take from a business and or citizens government cannot create capitol or rights it can only to redistribute them so yes the money does belong to the citizen
    Bill Yankee / June 20, 2021 lets not forget the supreme court is not always right. Cases get over turned all the time

    • Don’t hold your breath till this is even attempted, let alone be overturned.
      AK Supreme Court did get overturned back in 1980 when the Zobel’s took Hammond’s formula for PFDs to the US Supreme Court but you think this sort of thing takes place “all the time?”
      This will be overturned as soon as a few of Trump’s lawsuits over 2020 election get overturned. Heheh!

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