By SUZANNE DOWNING
Part 1: Bill Walker signed away 75% of Alaska’s gas to the Chinese in exchange for major control of the gasline
Candidate Bill Walker is trying his hardest to get Democrat Les Gara elected governor. Walker has a slim-to-none chance of winning himself — he has polling numbers he won’t release, since they are incredibly bad for him. Polling by others not connected with his campaign rank him in the “just awful” range.
But Walker is out for blood and going to do all the damage he can to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, in the name of revenge. After all, it’s Dunleavy who stood in Walker’s way, preventing him from building a Chinese-financed gasline from the North Slope that would make Alaska beholden to the communist Chinese government for generations.
For four years and especially in recent campaign days, the Walker team has been jawing about a so-called “loyalty pledge,” which is a term the Walker acolytes coined when Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s chief of staff, in the early days in of transitioning from Walker to the Dunleavy administration, asked the “exempt” workers (those not in unions) if they wanted to continue working for the new governor. It was an innocent question. If they did, they were asked to simply state that they wanted to keep working. With all new political administrations, it’s out with the old, and in with the new appointed people. That’s how new governors roll out their agendas — they get people on board who support that agenda.
Missing from the mainstream narrative is this: The list Gov. Dunleavy sent the “do you want to work for Dunleavy” note to was a list provided to him by Gov. Walker during the transition and before Dunleavy was sworn into office. What a great set-up by Walker.
The ads are misleading but they parrot the mainstream media headlines that also called it a “loyalty pledge.” This is how mainstream media helps out its favorite candidates. It’s all done with a wink and a nod.
So let’s talk about an actual loyalty pledge — the one that Bill Walker made to China.
In 2017, Bill Walker signed massive agreements with three large enterprises owned by the communist Chinese government — Sinopec, the Bank of China, and China Investment Corporation. The agreement would give huge advantages to China to pay for Walker’s gasline from the North Slope, and wire in deals for China for natural gas — deals that would last a lifetime. China would get 75% of the gas from the pipeline in exchange for financing the construction of it and an option to buy in as an owner of the project. China would be given the right to manufacture pipeline components.
Cleverly, the Chinese also had the option to withdraw from the project at any time. The Chinese are not dumb. They knew they were dealing with an unsophisticated governor, and one who was willing to take their cash — in American dollars — and return to the states with it. The cash transfer they executed was a test — and the Walkers passed that test without knowing it. They showed the Chinese government they were willing to take cash.
Fortunately for Alaska and America, Walker was replaced by voters and was not able to renew the agreement with China, which expired not long after he was unceremoniously removed in 2018. Gov. Dunleavy prevented China from getting a toehold on a project that would enrich the communists by tying up gas contracts for generations.
Walker had spent most of his time as governor involving himself in the matters of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, which is supposed to, by charter, run as a separate entity. Under Walker, it was like another state department, one that he was commissioner of and that he controlled, although Keith Meyer was the president and CEO. Meyer is an expert in gaslines, but Walker was in charge, and he left the running of state government to his lieutenant governor, Byron Mallott.
Walker courted China President Xi Jinping, who also holds the title of general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Both of them came into power at about the same time — Xi in 2013, and Walker in 2014. By 2018, Walker had signed the agreement and was going into an election cycle promising Alaskans he had met his campaign promise of building a gasline.
Alaska came “this close” to being betrothed to the communist Chinese based on signed agreements that Alaskans never knew about until the ink was dry.
Walker signed a loyalty pledge for the ages.
Walker failed. But he is now trying his next-best option, which is to have Alaska governed by a hardline Democrat in Les Gara, who will take Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends to be redistributed to state workers, and who may even put Walker in charge of the gasline to China again as political payback for another of Walker’s loyalty pledges.
Suzanne Downing is publisher at Must Read Alaska.