Democrats, media win: Penney cancels Dunleavy contract to develop business


After weeks of badgering by Democrats in the Legislature, the rainmaker hired to lead a business development effort for the State of Alaska has decided that the time is right to step aside.

Without saying it in these exact terms, his published statement indicates he can’t develop business for Alaska with that many political knives in his back.

Clark Penney issued a statement on Tuesday morning that thanked the governor for the opportunity to work on his Alaska Development Team.

“Though the goal has been to carry out Governor Dunleavy’s mission to work with industry and increase economic activity in Alaska, my participation has become a distraction leading to a challenging environment for my colleagues. I believe in the work the team and I are doing in creating a brighter future for Alaska, but at this time I will be stepping away from this contract effective immediately.  My hope is the good work we started will continue, Penney wrote.

Penney continued: “Alaska is my home and passion.  Everything I have done in this position is about giving back to the place I grew up and will raise my family.  There are significant projects worth millions of dollars, we are removing barriers to doing business and creating relationships with industry.  I leave knowing I helped move this forward as a member of the Alaska Development Team.  I am confident they will finish the job.  Serving Alaska has been a true honor.”

He thanked the governor, the team at the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, and his fellow ADT colleagues, and said his company, Penney Capital, would continue to support the governor’s private sector growth initiatives from the sidelines.

Penney, who runs a successful business and by most estimations did not need to take the Dunleavy contract for the money, was singled out by Democrats and the mainstream media because his grandfather Bob Penney was one of the more prominent supporters of the Dunleavy campaign for governor. Democrats saw that as a soft place to put the knife as they attempted to show that it was a quid pro quo arrangement. They wanted the contract to be put out to bid, rather than sole-source.

The contract, which totaled less than $100,000 a year, has become the object of fascination by Democrats and the mainstream media, who showed no such interest in the millions of dollars spent by the previous administration in contracts for a nonexistent Alaska gasline.


  1. Sounds like this young man had some good ideas. Small projects with growth potential and not so much risk. Maybe he will make a lot of money and decide to run for office himself someday and displace some of the parasites and flunkie lawyers whose ideas consist of raising taxes and spending more. Some of them by their comments probably have trouble balancing their checkbooks. They keep getting elected by promising free s- – f and whining.

  2. Despite the editorial at the end of the editorial, no-competition contracts don’t help anyone save money or stay “open for business.” Administrations of all stripes should stay away from them.

  3. Maybe they should have let this contract out on a bid basis instead of appointing the son of a political donor to the governor’s campaign. This didn’t pass the smell test from the beginning.

    • On the other hand being related to someone who was a strong supporter of Dunleavy shouldn’t automatically disqualify them either. The man in question has obvious indications of successfully operating a substantial business enterprise in Alaska.

  4. According to a whitepaper we did a couple of years ago comparing opportunities in Alaska v. Texas, we found that a group similar to the Alaska Development Team, worked in the Texas Governor’s office.  Texas led the nation in 2019 in job creation.  The developer in me was encouraged.  

    When a business prospect comes into the Texas Economic Development Office, they are given a list of investment bankers who can fund the equity piece of the new business, a list of commercial mortgage bankers who can finance the debt piece of the venture, a list of Enterprise zones with active tax credits and a list of communities who can forgive the real estate taxes for a period of time if the new long term jobs created are substantial.  Texans provide the basic tool, capital, which makes economic development successful. Alaska does not.

    The Texas Permanent School Fund is directly comparable to the Alaska Permanent Fund and has been around since 1854.  At $46.5 billion, it has operated within Texas law by investing 50% of the Fund in Texas and 50% of the amount in real property in Texas.  Texas has the highest economic growth rate in the United States as a result.  Texas’ economy is similar to Alaska’s with primary reliance on the oil and gas sector.  Their diversification strategy, however, focused on providing necessary capital, (both debt, and equity) and works well.  Alaska should emulate the work being done in Texas and replicate the statutory structure necessary for its accomplishment.  

    Clark Penney is a good man who should not have been burned by those whose priority is to stop all Alaska economic progress.  I hope he will stay involved.  
    Jim Crawford, President, The Alaska Institute for Growth

    • You had me until your last line. You don’t have to be anti-economy to advocate for open and competitive professional-service procurement processes; rather, folks that are against open and competitive processes tend to have something to hide.

    • Jim,
      Your underlying message appeared to call for the most basic element necessary for success. That is, talent in concert with the ability to achieve success through the implementation of a plan of action designed to achieve the attended result. Where the hell was this guy’s plan? What was the specific, measurable, achievable and reproducible plan of action that was designed to achieve an intended result? There was nothing achieved, and no specific target goal. Let’s just cut to the chase, nothing was implemented that would have had a meaningful impact on bringing business to Alaska. The Tuckerman good ole boy program paid this guy $100,000 for what?? Political payback? Alaskan’s deserve better!

  5. Too bad the Anchorage media doesn’t do a complete analysis of the Walker administration’s pursuit of the gas line. What the money was spent for and how much specifically. Another project would be a complete analysis of the Port’s expansion and reconstruction from inception. Oh, wait a minute I forgot ! These projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars were administered by democrats and ended up in a black hole with nothing to show. Were you to follow the money I think it would surprise you how interconnected the players were in these fiascos. The hypocrisy is stunning.

  6. Blah blah blah, another petty squabble in the petty political world. What amazed me is the resemblance between this young Clark and his grandfather Robert 50 years ago!

  7. I don’t think the left is going to enjoy playing under their new rules.

    There will be other elected Democrats who give out no-bid contracts / grants to their friends, family and supporters. We will be there to remind them and their media cheerleaders of the Penney Affair and then see what they do. Cheers –

  8. Not knowing much about this situation, but hearing that the contract was small, I wonder what the costs of the bid process are to the state? Might they approach a significant percentage of the contract? Otherwise why have No Bid contracts at all?

  9. Understand when the next Democrat gets in office and does a no-bid contract and gets called on it like they did Penney affair, they will say, “Oh, but this is also under such and such an amount, 250K for example, so really, it doesn’t apply to us. Go home and quit whining, you probably hate children too.” or something to that effect.
    Public bragging matters…if the public would be allowed to see it. Penney gave back to Alaska more than 100K in his time in employ. Certainly more than many on the public dole around these parts who keep hanging on decade after decade.

    • I can’t wait to read Penney’s final report explaining what he spent the money on, what he trips he took, and the business contacts he made to help Alaskans. Should be great reading, maybe an intro by Tom Boutin as well.

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