A series of emails obtained through a public records request show that former CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Angela Rodell had extensive email conversations of a political nature with then-Senate Finance Co-Chair Sen. Natasha von Imhof.
Von Imhof, in announcing this month that her Legislative Budget and Audit Committee would be subpoenaing the Board of Trustees for the Alaska Permanent Fund, said she wanted to ensure that the fund is not being politicized. She is investigating the firing of former CEO Angela Rodell.
But the record shows that over the years she was having extensive political conversations and influence on Rodell on many matters related to the fund, including a bill that Rodell was trying to get passed in the Legislature.
Their relationship is also personal, something Von Imhof has not disclosed to the public. In one of the emails, von Imhof’s chief of staff made an arrangement for von Imhoff and Rodell to attend a theater performance together in Juneau. In a text message that reveals a friendship, Rodell commented that von Imhof was “da bomb.” Von Imhof had given Rodell the cell phone for fund trustee Corri Feige.
In Alaska, the leadership pool is close, and people who work in leaderships have relationships for many years. Thus, it’s not uncommon for friendships to occur and alliances to develop.
But von Imhof has stated repeatedly that she was concerned about the firing of Rodell, she has held hearings on that firing and brought the chairman of the board of trustees before her committee to interrogate, and said she fears the Permanent Fund was being politicized — all while not disclosing her relationship.
The record shows she was having political influence on the fund as far back as 2020.
Von Imhof was not the only political conversation in the emails. Also involved in political side email discussions on matters that were being legislated were former Rep. Jennifer Johnson and Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins, both foes of a full Permanent Fund dividend.
In the dozens of email pages received through a public records request, the public can now see that von Imhof was working closely with Rodell not only on bills of interest to the two of them, but on a sovereign wealth professional development program with Mozambique, and to work through the possibility of a government shutdown and what that would mean to the fund and its personnel. During a meeting that was set up between the two entities (Mozambique and Alaska), von Imhof offered to discuss the political consequences of the fund as her area of expertise.
The Department of Law is already on the record saying that the relationship between Rodell and von Imhof is a sticky wicket, now that Von Imhof has issued legislative subpoenas to the Permanent Fund Board of Trustees, which voted nearly unanimously to fire Rodell.
The Department of Law stated that the Permanent Fund Board believes that the committee’s investigation exceeds its statutory and constitutional authority – and the manner in which the investigation has begun raises serious concerns about its fairness and impartiality. The trustees believe a third party is a more appropriate way to investigate its actions, rather than the political body of the Legislature.
The Law Department wrote, “This delegation of subpoena power to one individual and its current use as a threat to APFC Trustees and employees has been made even more problematic because of a clear conflict of interest at the center of the Committee’s investigation.”
The emails MRAK was able to obtain — and they are likely a fraction of what is available — show that von Imhof has a deep and influential relationship with Rodell. The question for legislative leadership and the public is: Was von Imhof, who is the vice chair of the board of the Rasmuson Foundation, her family’s wealth fund, exerting undue influence on the Permanent Fund all along?