By DAN FAGAN
There’s no single individual alive today who has hurt the financial bottom line of Alaskans more than former Anchorage Daily News publisher and owner Alice Rogoff.
The ignoring of the statutory formula Permanent Fund dividend calculation that is on the books has cost Alaska families’ tens of thousands of dollars over the past several years. The vision to raid the Permanent Fund Earnings account shrinking Alaskans yearly dividends was birthed in the heart of Alice Rogoff.
Back in 2014, with her vast wealth, Rogoff vaulted herself into a kingmaker. She was instrumental in creating the so-called “Unity Ticket” in the governor’s race. Rogoff, behind the scenes, worked with Big Labor bosses and other swamp creatures to create the Bill Walker-Byron Mallott ticket to run against Republican incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell.
Walker squeaked out a victory only after Rogoff used her newspaper to manufacture dozens of fake news stories and columns falsely claiming Parnell looked the other way as women were sexually harassed in the Alaska National Guard.
It was the clearest case of journalism malpractice and propaganda ever seen in Alaska. The day after the election, the steady flow of fake news National Guard stories screeched to an abrupt halt.
Why would Rogoff, the ex-wife of David Rubenstein, one of the wealthiest men on the planet worth more than $4 billion, desire to manipulate a governor’s race in Alaska?
Based on Rogoff’s own words and actions the answer seems clear: She had her eye on the massive amount of wealth contained in the Alaska Permanent Fund.
Rogoff knew that Gov. Walker would transform the Permanent Fund from a way to share the state’s resource wealth with the people through a yearly dividend check to instead a mechanism allowing the Juneau and Washington D.C. swamp to raid the fund’s considerable wealth.
In April of 2015, Rogoff wrote a column in her paper calling for using the fund as leverage to borrow more money. She described it as a way to “help fund state government.” Translation: Use the fund to make special interests fatter and happier.
“Besides oil, Alaska has another vital resource – huge cash reserves and assets,” Rogoff wrote on April 11, 2015. “This, in turn, provides us credit and the ability to borrow money against it.”
She went onto write any money earned from her scheme could be used to fund government. Rogoff also argues “state spending could continue at a healthy level.”
Rogoff has since lost her kingmaker status with the collapse of the Walker Administration. She no longer had any juice or clout to reach her tenacles into the Alaska Permanent Fund and steer it further away from benefitting Alaskans and toward the Swamp.
That is until this week when Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy appointed Rogoff’s daughter, Gabrielle Rubenstein, to sit on the Board of Trustees for the Alaska Permanent Fund.
The obvious question is: Of all the capable Alaskans available for this crucial position, why choose the daughter of the woman most responsible for shrinking Alaskan’s dividend check? Is it not fair to assume Rogoff’s vision and obsession with the fund might influence her daughter’s decision making?
And what about Rubenstein’s swampy multi-billionaire father? Is it also safe to assume he may now have an inside track on steering the direction of the $80 billion fund with his daughter now on the Board of Trustees? David Rubenstein is already managing up to $1.7 billion of the $80 billion fund.
It’s possible Gabrielle Rubenstein has a very different vision for the Alaska Permanent Fund than her mother. Rogoff, like her former minion Bill Walker, favors steering the fund’s earnings toward special interests, leaving Alaskans with only scraps.
Does Dunleavy’s appointment of Rubenstein reflect a shift in his view of the purpose of the fund? He campaigned as a staunch fighter of the statutory dividend formula but quickly abandoned that approach after getting elected. Dunleavy then transitioned to the POMV plan touted by his opponent, Mark Begich.
Has the governor’s appointment of Alice Rogoff’s daughter to the Alaska Permanent Fund Board of Trustees mean he now endorses the idea the fund is best used when it benefits special interests instead of working Alaskans?
Did he make this choice to endear himself to Walker voters?
Whether it’s the governor’s refusal to use his line-item veto pen, or his coziness with Anne Zink, or putting Alice Rogoff’s daughter in a position impacting the permanent fund, Dunleavy has consistently governed as though conservatives have no other choice but to vote for him.
Dan Fagan hosts a morning talk show on Newsradio 650 KENI from 5:30 to 9 a.m. weekday mornings.