Governor taps public union lobbyist as fish commish - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, June 13, 2021
HomeThe 907Governor taps public union lobbyist as fish commish

Governor taps public union lobbyist as fish commish


(Editor’s note: Story updated to correct spelling of Putman’s name.)

Gov. Bill Walker announced today his choice for the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. Vance Fate Putman will fill the seat being vacated on Dec. 1, when Benjamin Brown steps down. Putman will serve the remainder of Brown’s term until March 3, 2019.

“Fate’s stable leadership, conscientious nature, and reasonable voice will be an asset to the commission,” Walker said in a press release. “I am confident he will be a great addition to the CFEC team, which has worked hard to support the economic health of Alaska’s commercial fisheries.”

The governor goes on to describe Putman’s bio: He has worked as a commercial fishing deckhand, commercial fish buyer, and currently as a setnet fisherman in the Kasilof Personal Use Fishery. Putman has a law degree from California Western School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Western Washington University. Mr. Putman also served on the Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission and as President of the Juneau Community Charter School. He lives in Juneau,and works in private practice, the governor’s press release adds.



Gov. Walker mentioned that Putman once worked as a deckhand, and likely on a fish tender as a buyer, and he has a personal use setnet that he uses in Kasilof. That’s his street cred.

But Walker left out that Putman’s real job in “private practice” is actually as a lobbyist for the Alaska State Employees Association, where in 2011 he served as assistant business manager.

As a state employee union lobbyist, he makes north of $82,000, which is modest, as lobbying goes. He fills in his income as a lobbyist for the liberal National Popular Vote project, which pays him $30,000 a year. The group wants the presidency to be won by the candidate with the most total votes, and seeks to dismantle the electoral college. That way, California and New York would be able to decide who becomes president and small states like Alaska would be marginalized.


Will Putman get to retain his contract with ASEA? That also is not addressed by the governor’s press release, so Must Read Alaska will file a public records request and update this story.

Attorney Ben Brown, Putman’s predecessor on the commission, makes $130,000, but there is no detail on Putman’s salary for a job that most insiders recognize is winding down, with very little work to do.


In the 1992 general election, Putman ran as a Democrat for  House District 13 (it was known as the Coastal Trail district). He was beat by Republican Cynthia Toohey, who won 3,601 votes (50.6 %) to Putnam’s 3,479 votes (48.9%).


Ethics training for lobbyists takes place Dec. 5 with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. The link to register is here.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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