Document drop: Chain of emails shows lobbyists from Don Young era are now pulling for Mary Peltola, since ‘almost every Democrat vote that turns out is a vote for Lisa’


A series of back-and-forth emails obtained by Must Read Alaska show that major D.C. lobbyists and operatives associated with the late Congressman Don Young are trying to get all former employees of Young to sign on and support Congresswoman Mary Peltola in November. The Swamp is trying to pull the Democrat over the finish line. And they’re using Peltola to get Sen. Lisa Murkowski reelected.

The emails involve well-known Alaska-focused lobbyists and politicos such as C.J. Zane, Jack Ferguson, Steve Silver, and others, and the messages were copied to dozens of former staffers for Young and a few business leaders from major Alaska corporations. From the emails, it’s clear that former Chief of Staff Alexander Ortiz, who is currently working as chief of staff for Peltola, is one person leading the charge, along with former Don Young Communication Director Zack Brown.

They are attacking Nick Begich, who was the former co-chair of the Young campaign in 2020. Instead,

Curtis J. Zane wrote:

“We’ve had a chance to talk amongst most, but not all of you, about the attached DRAFT event invitation for Rep. Mary Peltola.  As you can see from the draft, several of us have agreed to go on the invite as listed participants. Anyone who wants to join the list is welcome, but we want to be very, very clear that this is strictly voluntary and there’s absolutely no harm and no foul if anyone wants to take pass for whatever reason.” C.J. Zane is managing principal at BLANKROME Government Relations LLC and lobbies for many Alaska entities, linked here.

Zane, doing heavy lifting among his lobbyist peers, is trying to get all former Young staffers to get involved in supporting the Democrat.

“And, if joining on a fund raising event is not your cup of tea, there are other ways to help out if you are so inclined.  Attached is a draft letter of support, and a memo about three ways you can help, that Alex and Zack have drafted for your consideration.  Again, folks can do one, two, all three, or none of these suggestions.  Please let us know if you want to add your name to the invite and/or send a letter of support or do a testimonial, and if not, that’s perfectly okay!  Thanks very much for your consideration,” Zane says, showing that Ortiz and Brown, Don Young staffers at the time of his death, are key to pushing Peltola.

A response from lobbyist Jack Ferguson shows he’s “all-in,” and so are some of his friends. Ferguson wrote:

“Yes you can put my name all over the place….I  held a ‘business round table’ event for Mary at the Petroleum Club this last Wednesday…..Ben Stevens attended…along with 12 other great Republicans .   (including Jim Jansen …who ‘Begich claims as his supporter) . I will attend the art gallery event  this Sunday,   Yesterday I Attended the Chugach event over at Sheri’s 12 floor.  I have another event for her on Oct. 27th which they have asked me to arrange….’Republican women who support Pro Choice.’   Joe Ralston and I are making arrangements for her to meet Col.Wilson  the new commander of JBER.    Working with Anton (her campaign manager) on suggested remarks for her speech at the AFN Convention….just bought a VIP table there.

“Think of it this way,……almost every Democratic vote that turns out is a vote for Lisa …so a High Democratic turn out is good.  But Mary can’t win without some certain number of Republicans …so they are mutually reliant on one another…and their supporters….that’s where we come in….hopefully all of the Young team….with the exception of one or two I suspect.

“Tomorrow the last ‘reporting period’ before the election will be posted…..Mary’s fund raiser guy (Jones) was working on the number this morning he thinks it is close to $3m…..Begich will be lucky if he raised 200k…unless he spends his own money which he has been reluctant to do..

“The ‘rank red’ campaign is for very partisan voters…..a good plan but not likely to produce many voters they don’t already have….the other voters for Begich are ‘default votes’…anybody but Palin.   Some say Begich has gained on Palin….I am waiting to learn more from some other polls that just came in from the field….before I believe it.

“They are still both fighting each other…..even though Palin has now joined the ‘rank red’ campaign …she used to be ‘vote one or none’ person…she still refers to him as ‘negative Nick’.

“But the new development… Peltola has the momentum and the last poll I saw has her beating  both Palin and Begich…..but still hoping that Begich is first person out. Begich just switched his position to support the ‘infrastructure money’….man the guy is slow.

“Oscar, is even taking his Spring Break from Taft to knock on doors for Mary.

“So as you can see I am all in… are most of my clients…..the fish guys in Seattle are having problems with her….working with [Stephanie] Moreland to educate Mary…she is a little hard over….but indicates she wants to understand more.

‘This is a good idea to put of our names on a ‘Young Legacy’ event…it sends a message.”

That email, trying to build an effort to show Peltola as Young’s legacy, is signed by Jack Ferguson and copied to dozens of lobbyists, former Young aides, and even a few Alaska business leaders, whose email addresses were all revealed on the thread, including lobbyists Richard A. Agnew of Van Ness Feldman, D. Smith of Smith Advocacy Group, Carl Marrs of Old Harbor Native Corp., Wally Burnett of Crossroad Strategies, Colin Chapman, Alexander Ortiz, Zack Brown, Katie Rachel of BLANKROME, several others at BLANKROME and Van Ness Feldman, Steve Silver, Andrew Lundquist of ConocoPhillips, Jay Sterne of Windward Strategies, Gregg Renkes of Van Ness Feldman, and many more.

The Nov. 8 general election will determine if Alaska, a majority Republican-voting state, will be represented in Congress by a Democrat. Some of the lobbyists on this email chain are ones who were involved with trying to get Josh Revak into the seat, others were working on the Tara Sweeney campaign, but neither made the case to voters during the special primary election in June. Revak came in 10th in June, and Sweeney got 3% in August.


  1. C.J. Zane almost cost Don Young the election for the Congressional seat way back in the day, when he was Young’s Chief of Staff and was part of a miserable campaign effort that almost resulted in John Devans being elected. Old C.J. didn’t exactly get fired after that caper but was eased out and became a lobbyist for Holland-America, where he played on his influence with Congressman Young to fiddle around with policy and politics but he was and remains a person who is viewed by serious operators as a feather merchant.
    Don Young put up with C.J. Zane’s stunts and antics because Young was pals with C.J.’s dad, with whom Young hunted and hung around with once in a while. C.J. had what most folks consider as a sinecure when he worked for Young and in the inefficient manner of Dee Cee, when he proved himself to be a boob, he got placed on the payroll of a corporation that needed access to Young. Young being Young, he mostly ignored C.J. most of the time but old C.J. did deliver a few goodies for his corporate clients on occasions, most of which were easy to work around and not all that significant in the grand scheme of things. C.J. continues to hang with pals like Stevie Silver and Jack Furguson who are A List wannabes back in Dee Cee and quick to grasp at keeping folks they know in power so they can continue to charge clients for access and supposed influence. The great majority of what guys like C.J., Jack and Little Stevie do is the equivalent of playing with food. They really don’t add much or any value to transactions but by showing up and playing around with policy and politics, they add to the friction cost of congressional proceedings and mostly slow things down or divert serious attention to pressing needs. Alas, such is collective decision-making back in Dee Cee anymore. We get what we deserve in this democratic experiment. Nick Begich will have his own hacks and other folks who hang on him if he elected, of course, but it’s worth considering whether life in Alaksa would be better without having guys like Zane, Furguson and Silver screwing around with Congressional policy that undoubtedly will impact the lives of average Alaskans.

    Time will tell, of course, but at this point in the election cycle, old Sarah Palin’s viability is dropping like a rock. The race for who represents Alaska as the sole representative in Congress will come down to three individuals, as the fourth person on the ballot will get eliminated in round one of the counting process, leaving Peltola, Begich and Palin as the contenders. Begich needs to finish at least in second place in the current Ranked Choice Voting format in November and stay alive if he is to have a shot at winding up as Alaska’s representative in the House and even then, Begich might not win if Peltola garners 50% of the vote during the first round of RCV. If she does, the election is over and she remains as Alaska’s congressional representative.
    Begich’s lack of support from hacks like Zane, Furguson and Silver is, in some regards, a testament to the fact that he isn’t mobbed up with the same old, same old back in Dee Cee. Mary Peltola has had a fine run and has campaigned on a refreshingly positive campaign platform without delving into the negativity and even stupidity that characterizes Palin’s efforts to convince Alaskans she is a serious and credible candidate. Peltola’s nice, Palin is nutty and Begich is kind of nerdy. Nutty is likely out via RCV, meaning the choice comes down to whether we wind up with nice or nerdy. This could go either way but at least for me, if nice doesn’t lose goofballs like Silver, Zane and Furguson, I’ll take Nick Begich any day.

  2. “But [insert RINO name here] is good for the state” was all I ever heard from AKRP when I would say Don and Lisa were RINOs. Glad AKRP are finally starting to catch up with the AK Republican voter.

  3. As a former staffer for Don Young, let me make this very clear: Representative Young was well intentioned at the onset of his career and pulled the conservative ideological bell. But he eventually became corrupted, more so especially after he gained control of the Resources and Transportation Committees in the 90’s and 2000’s. Lobbyists and special interest groups flocked to him for attention and services. Those groups included, labor unions, Native corporations, and rich private developers. It didn’t matter if the labor boss was a Marxist Democrat or if the developer was a hard core conservative Republican. The bottom line for getting Don Young’s attention was MONEY.
    The lobbyists understand this better than anyone.
    Their own ideological boundaries are shaded.
    And Young knew that. Forget the fact that Don’s language was tart and colorful at times, usually during an election cycle, and almost always playing into Republican hands. But Don’s list of campaign donors showed that some of the largest donors came from labor unions. And those unions would benefit in spades. Don’s wife, Lou, was full-blooded Athabaskan from Fort Yukon. She, more than any other, lined-up Native votes for Don. And Don delivered the goods back to Alaska Natives. Don Young is a perfect example of why we need term limits drafted into the state Constitution.

    Most of Don Young’s staffers during the past 50 years were not Alaskans, but rather people who lived in The DC area. Staffing in DC is nothing more than a recycling mill, mostly Democrats.

    Mary Peltola is hoping to keep the Don Young charade alive with her ineffective campaign sound bites. But the majority of Alaskans will reject her, knowing that her special interest ties are conveniently hinged to the corruption that defines Washington, DC to big money and Democrat power.

    I will be voting for Nick Begich III on election day.

    • Thanks, Woody. This explains a lot.

      I asked Don Young’s constituent affairs staff in Anchorage for help with the VA several times over the years. Women’s health services at the Anchorage VA Clinic have been and continue to be generally ineffective because many staff members a just plain lazy or there is too much to bureaucratic nonsense. I figured Don would help sort everything out and make improvements. I filled out the paperwork and submitted it several times, but never heard from anybody in that office ever again. NEVER! Now it’s clear that I did not have sufficient money to offer for the assistance I thought I’d be able to get.

      With regard to Mary Peltola, who has been in office for over one month, nobody in her office will return my weekly calls requesting help with the VA. The next time Mary boasts about supporting Alaskans and standing up for veterans, you should know that this in patently untrue.

      I’m voting for Nick Begich. He’d never expect bribes or payment like Don Young *or* show blatant disrespect like nice girl (three times married) Mary Peltola.

      • We know that Planned Genocide will receive Peltola’s support long before she even considers women veterans.

    • Woody, the Republican Party of Alaska is in complete disarray. It makes one wonder who’s playing footsies with whom. I’m not saying that anybody is on the take, but the inducements must be attractive! What up with you, that you are willing to spill the beans?

      As we’ve always known, everybody is out to be slopped at the great national sty!

      • I’m one of the ex-staff that moved back to Alaska, although the inducements for lobbying work in DC were offered. Lou Young was tremendous. She kept Don going, even when he fell into the hands of sleazy lobbyists. Oil company big shots and union bosses worked together to keep Don in line. If there is any take-away from my story it is this:
        A state Constitutional Convention IS necessary in order to tighten the boundaries of ambiguity. Not just for the PFD, but particularly for term limits in Congress.

    • Excellent insight. I knew the Peltola’s were a big part of Young getting elected but could not make any other connection other than Frank M and the AKPF Corp.

  4. Joe, if I were your professor I would give you an A+ on the above essay… and not just for grammar, or construction, or quality of prose; but primarily the factual content.

  5. Interesting article. It would be even more useful to me if you included the names of those it was addressed to….

  6. “Counting Begich’s personal loan to his campaign, he has raised a total of around $1.5 million since launching his bid for office — about the same as Palin had raised and less than half of Peltola’s total sum.“

    We will see if money swipes the clear-thinking conservatism of Begich. Palin will drift back to Big Lake in the summer and her beau’s house in Florida during the winter, idly flipping online channels and discussing new plastic surgery techniques with her doctor of the month.

  7. Don Young’s “legacy” is that he had ample time to support a successor and retire comfortably. Instead he opted to stay swampy and drop dead.

    It’s pretty barf-emoji to think of all these Alaskan(In Name Only) politicos hustling their networks at hoity functions while the “people” get to survive day jobs, prepare for winter and pay $5.39/gallon + Bidenflation. Al Gross was bought out, why not Nick or Sarah?

  8. Either the letter has not gone out or my old colleagues have stricken my name from the list. Jack, Steve and C.J.: Save a stamp, I am supporting NB3.

  9. Proves out the fact that the players snub the voters, and the platform. The party is making fools of most of the registered members and your either in on it or your head is in the sand. Independent voters need to send a message to them all. Bob Bird had it right. The solution is not change from within thats not worked in how many years…….None of the candidates are acceptable. I say make it worse until people get frustrated enough to actually get of thier lazy butts and vote and be involved. 5.49 not high enough? Make it 10. Triple food prices and let boys into girls locker rooms…mad enough to get involved yet? None of these people will do what needs to be done so in a way i hope Petola wins to show the average Reoublican voter how bad things really are.
    Convention yes, start there. If we dont it paints the picture very clearly.

  10. Charles de Gaulle once remarked that ‘Brazil is not a serious country.’
    I wonder when Alaska will get serious.
    Perhaps when the oil money runs out, or the federal money does.
    Both are imminent.

    • Once we entered our “woke” phase, the USA ceased to be a serious country. We no longer address or solve serious issues or provide moral leadership. We are a joke, run by vain and foolish leaders.

  11. Wow, that didn’t take long! Just what Alaska needs – another face in Washington, DC controlled by special interests. Rank the Red in November. We now know who will control Ms. Peltola’s vote. There may be a chance that Begich won’t go full RHINO on Alaska & Palin, despite her obvious flaws, will almost certainly support the MAGA agenda in Congress.

  12. The Alaska Republican Party needs an injection of people with integrity and honor that will tell lobbyists to shove it! It is about a love for country and our Constitution as well as wanting to actually represent the people, not special interests. Part of that is the people being informed and educated as to who they are voting for and what their background is. If anyone votes for a Democrat or a Rino at this point in history, there is no integrity in them and or the desire to know the truth of what is happening to our nation under these types of political candidates.

    We need a movement of patriots that are ready to fight this battle from the ground up. This website (‘ has the answer, we will just need to step up to the plate and take our country back from corrupt people like Lisa Murkowski, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of their ilk.

    We need to stop supporting people in the party that will not do their job for “We the People”. Voting for the lesser of two evils doesn’t work anymore. I agree with Fishing for Food above, Palin is the MAGA candidate whether you like her or not. If you want to “Rank the Red”, then do so but place Palin first for the congressional seat or you place another swamp creature in that seat.

    Murkowski is not a Republican, so do not rank her. There will be plenty of Democrats voting for her as it is. Only rank Kelly number one and no one else. Kelly is MAGA, which is why old turtleneck McConnell is spending millions to protect his precious swamp creature Lisa. We need a grassroots effort to fix what is wrong in Alaska politics.

    • Are you sure you understand the difference between state-registered lobbyists and federally-registered lobbyists? Did you know that lobbyists in DC have to be federally registered and that Ashley Reed is not? Did it ever occur to you to check? Or are you just jawing, Jim? And what makes it OK to attack the kids for their parents’ professions, anyway? You are a piece of work. Go back to ADN.

  13. The Peltola’s got Young elected so this is par for the course. The Frankie M cabal is still alive and well in AK.

  14. Anyone with a brain can plainly see that here in AK especially, there is only one party: the corportocrats . Unions, public private partnership corporations etc. Mega corps and unions run AK. It is as simple as that.

  15. Anyone with a brain can plainly see that here in AK especially, there is only one party: the corporatocrats . Unions, public private partnership corporations etc. Mega corps and unions run AK. It is as simple as that.

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  17. The Peltola campaign is race based. All people are natives to the planet. That she is allowing this type of a campaign means she is vulnerable to all the divisive tactics that corrupt D.C. and our country.

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