Mike Dubke to White House? Ambassador Gillam? Jerry Ward at Education

Mike Dubke, from his Facebook page.

After being spotted at the White House on Thursday, Mike Dubke, a well-known figure in Alaska political circles, is said to be positioned to become White House communications director as early as today.

Dubke, who founded Crossroads Media and the Black Rock Group, was recently associated with the 2016 Lisa Murkowski re-election campaign.

His Alaska-based Black Rock operation was on contract with the Murkowski campaign in 2016. Its Alaska employee, Scott Kendall, now serves as chief of staff for Alaska Gov. Bill Walker.

Black Rock and Crossroads Media work primarily with Republican candidates and groups. Dubke was also the lead strategist in 2014 for U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan’s successful campaign against sitting Sen. Mark Begich.

Dubke has worked in Alaska as far back as 2002, when he ran statewide ads attacking Gov. Tony Knowles.

Some longtime political activists and resource development advocates are not happy with the news.

Jason Brune, a development advocate who for several years worked for the mining company Anglo American, tweeted up a storm, including: “It makes me absolutely sad after the good work Trump has done to date for resource development that he’d bring on someone like Dubke.”

Brune criticized Dubke for his role in killing the Pebble Project in western Alaska: “The deserves a fair review but Dubke did everything in his power, even collaborating with anti development zealots to stop it.”

Brune is a director of the Resource Development Council.

Dubke probably won’t have much to say about resource development, however. He’ll have his hands full defining a coherent narrative for the administration and giving direction and relief to Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who has had a bumpy ride so far.  Spicer’s role has included filling in as comm-director after Jason Miller turned down the position to spend more time with his family. Miller had headed up the Trump transition effort, but ran into a tangle of his own creation when Trump campaign surrogate A.J. Delgado called for him to resign and fanned a rumor that she and Miller had been having a side relationship.

Dubke’s company, Crossroads Media, works closely and is in the same building as American Crossroads, a super PAC formed by Bush-era political operative Karl Rove to promote conservative candidates. Rove’s partner at American Crossroads, Steven J. Law, was deputy secretary at the Department of Labor under President George W. Bush. Republican National Committee former chairman Mike Duncan is American Crossroads’ chairman of the board.

On the Crossroads Media website, Dubke shares this about his professional and personal life:

In the spring of 2001, Michael Dubke founded Crossroads Media, LLC, and in the 2008 elections, Crossroads Media distinguished itself as one of the major media placement firms on the national scene.

Since 1988, Mike has been involved in local, state and federal politics, as well as issue and public policy advocacy.  His experience has brought him a unique understanding of the relationship between political strategy and public policy development.

Mike served as the Co-Founder and President of Americans for Job Security (AJS), helping the organization become active in over 45 states and spend more than $55 million in direct issue advocacy.  Prior to co-founding AJS, Mike held the position of Executive Director of both the Ripon Society and the Ripon Educational Fund.  As executive director, he oversaw the growth of the TransAtlantic Conference and the re-emergence of the Ripon Society as a participant in national politics.

Today, Mike is also a Founding Partner at the Black Rock Group, a strategic communications and public affairs firm, based in Alexandria, VA.  He is a graduate of Hamilton College, a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder and resident of Alexandria, VA, where he lives with his wife, Shannon, and their two children.


In other Trump Administration news, Alaska investment giant Robert Gillam is said to be in line for an ambassadorship. Gillam, who runs McKinley Capital, was considered for Interior Secretary before President Trump offered the position to Ryan Zinke, a Republican congressman from Montana. Gillam turned down a deputy secretary offer, telling the Trump team that in Alaska, “if you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.”

Bob Gillam founded McKinley Capital Management and now oversees more than $7 billion in assets. He studied at Wharton College and was a classmate of President Trump’s. He started his investment career with Foster & Marshall and then worked for a company that was sold to Kemper. He then formed his own company and began using quantitative computer models to drive investment decisions.  He also capitalized on the advantage of being in Alaska, with its several hour workday overlap with financial markets in New York and Asia.

If mining proponents like Jason Brune don’t like Mike Dubke’s appointment, they may be happy to see Gillam leave Alaska for a while. Through the efforts of campaign strategist Art Hackney, Gillam ran a well funded and so-far successful campaign opposing the Pebble Project in Western Alaska.

Gilliam is now running an ad campaign on radio and in newspapers against a proposed income tax on Alaskans. He has also entertained the idea of running for Alaska governor in 2018.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin is also said to be on the short list for for ambassador to Canada, but Canadians pushed back. The Globe and Mail reported that during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip, the Canadian government was assured Palin would not be named ambassador to Canada.

   Jerry Ward


Former Alaska State Sen. Jerry Ward is at the Department of Education working on what is known as a beachhead team for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Beachhead teams are transition teams in departments, and the people who are on them are often on short-term contracts.

Ward was the Trump campaign director for Alaska and served on the committee that hosted the inauguration. With his wife Margaret Ward, he owns a real estate firm in Anchorage. The Alaska Native attended West High School and is a Vietnam War U.S. Navy veteran. He said that on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, he moved from his role as Native American liaison on the Inaugural Committee to the beachhead team for Education.

“Alaska is in a great spot,” he said this morning on his way to a early meeting at Education. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us. All our congressional delegation have been working with the administration, as well as the governor and lieutenant governor.”

“The Alaska Native community has been reached out to and been accepted by the Trump Administration Adminstration and there have been ongoing meetings — Julie Kitka, Byron Mallott, Tara Sweeney. Byron Mallott was here this week talking about opening up timber, ANWR, the natural gas pipeline,” Ward said.

Sweeney is said to be in line for a job with the Trump Administration. She is executive vice president of external affairs for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Her husband, Kevin Sweeney, is state director for Sen. Murkowski.