Donna Walker’s heavy hand on bloggers

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Donna Walker
Donna Walker

IS THE LETTER IN QUESTION A FAKE? FIRST LADY SAYS ‘TAKE IT DOWN’

Last month, two staunchly conservative Alaska political websites posted a 2014 letter attributed to then-candidate Bill Walker, in which he stated he’d cut spending by 16 percent, not touch Permanent Fund dividends, and other claims.

These were claims heard from Walker during his campaign and are not a surprise to those who follow politics, although the grammar in the letter leaves something to be desired. The posting of the letter was, evidently, to hold the governor accountable for his actions now that he has the power of the veto pen.

Walker, we know, has primarily made cuts in the capital budget, and he has cut Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends in order to preserve state programs, such as the Department of Health and Social Services, where the actual workforce has been cut by just one percent.

What was a surprise is that Donna Walker has contacted both of the blogs and has asked or strongly suggested that the letter be taken down. The letter is not from the governor, she says.

“I was just really surprised,” said David Boyle, who writes at the Alaska Policy Forum. First Lady Donna Walker showed up at the office unannounced, accompanied by her daughter, Lindsay Walker Hobson, who was the spokesperson for Walker’s campaign for governor. Both Walker and Hobson are attorneys and both were part of the Walker, Richards LLC law firm, which has since been sold to Robin Brena.

According to Boyle, Mrs. Walker said the letter is a fake and strongly suggested to him that it be removed from the website.

Boyle has reviewed the letter and says it contains the exact ideas that Walker espoused in a private meeting with United For Liberty in 2014, at the home of Dave Cuddy.

Over at the Restoring Liberty web site, Michael Chambers writes about receiving the Walker article back in 2014, and the process he used to post it:

The first week of September 2014, candidate Walker was solicited by United For Liberty to submit an article for our October 2014 newsletter. The deadline was September 22 for final submission. A member of UFL accepted the editor’s task to put together the final product. This same member was also working with the Walker team to assist in assembling a narrative to be put in the newsletter. He worked diligently and put the entire newsletter together and submitted to me the entire PFD file to publish on United For Liberty’s website. Following is a letter I sent candidate Walker on October 9th thanking him for the submitted article and asking him to consider submitting one more for a possible additional newsletter before the election (he submitted an additional article on October 15, 2014, but I did not publish it as I did not have one from incumbent Governor Parnell and I wanted to give each candidate fair coverage):

That web site, too, was contacted by Donna Walker, who said the letter is a fake. Here’s what Joe Miller’s website has to say about being contacted by Alaska’s First Lady:

“Over the past week, the governor’s wife has sent me a series of emails claiming that the article submitted to UFL in the October newsletter was not authorized by the candidate. These communications were apparently prompted because recent excerpts of Bill Walker’s quotes from this article in our newsletter have appeared in various publications online, including Joe Miller’s Restoring Liberty article: Governor Walker Steals $666 Million From Alaska’s Families, Time to Recall the Liar. She calls the article ‘bogus,’ specifically complaining about the ‘mass distribution of the bogus article that has wrongly been attributed to Bill…”‘

Was the article authorized by candidate Walker or was it authorized by his campaign?

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 11.36.45 AMWe don’t know, but when the First Lady of Alaska shows up unannounced to attempt to have material removed from a website, she is treading on the First Amendment, which states government “shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Lady of Alaska may not be an official arm of the Governor’s Office, but she has her own page on the State of Alaska website, she has her own State of Alaska email address, and she has her State staff and protection detail. She is also very much a part of the Governor’s policy team.

First Lady Donna cannot separate herself, at this point, from being part of the government, nor can she separate herself from being part of the Bill Walker re-election effort, which is clearly underway.