The moral of the story is that in politics, you cannot trust anyone.
A leak from inside the Office of the Governor to the leading attorney for the Recall Dunleavy Committee was then funneled to the Anchorage Daily News.
The series of text message exchanges between Attorney General Kevin Clarkson and a female employee in the Office of the Governor will, at the very least, embarrass the Administration when the story comes out tomorrow.
The numerous texts occurred between the woman and Clarkson, and were friendly and warm in nature. There were emojis and affectionate terms. She sent him a picture of herself. He wished her a good night and called her terms of endearment, but nothing salacious occurred in the texts.
The woman eventually got uncomfortable and put a halt to the back and forth, which were not sexual in any way, but were personal comments on personal cell phones.
When she confided about the exchange to a colleague, that information made its way to Scott Kendall, the former chief of staff for Gov. Bill Walker. Kendall heads up the effort to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy and is the prime mover behind Ballot Measure 2, an effort to upend the Republican Primary.
Kendall was the same person who covered up the tracks of former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, after Mallott put the move on a young girl during the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in 2018. Mallott resigned, but the Walker Administration never said exactly what happened, and it’s Scott Kendall, former Communications Director Grace Jang, and former Press Secretary Austin Baird who have kept the Walker-Mallott secret all these years.
Kendall started calling the Governor’s Office for information. He called his sources inside the Administration and an inquiry was set up through state human resources officers.
Before all was said and done, Kendall had gotten ahold of the texts and sent them to the Anchorage Daily News, which got right on the trail.
The Dunleavy Administration has been plagued by leaks to liberal political blogs. Must Read Alaska has learned about this from sources close to the situation, not from the Administration itself.
An investigation ensued and the employee who was texting with the attorney general did not want to pursue any action, but the leaks have now forced the matter out into the open. Clarkson was placed on 30-days leave, unpaid, which is close to completing.
It is unclear how the content of the text messages made their way to Kendall. But it’s clear the woman who is involved didn’t want to make her texts public and that Kendall knew he was passing along confidential information that was part of an internal investigation. The woman is not a victim in this case, but is collateral damage for Kendall, who just wants the governor recalled.
Clarkson issued a statement tonight taking full responsibility for his actions:
“I wish to take public responsibility for errors of judgment that led directly, but unintentionally, to my placing a State employee in an uncomfortable environment in her workplace. This employee was not in the department of law, I was not her supervisor, and I did not supervise her; nevertheless, I should never have placed her in this uncomfortable situation. For this, I am truly sorry.
“I engaged in a series of text messages with this employee over approximately one month. The topics of these texts ranged from food, to movies, to books, to family, and all were conversational and positive, were reciprocal, and were, I believed, mutual. I sent her pictures of food that I cooked from time to time. These texts included invitations for this person and her children to come to my home to share a meal, which she politely declined. All of these texts were “G” rated. In our texts we exchanged mutual endearments in words and emojis. On several occasions, this person initiated a friendly hug when I came to her work place, and I reflexively gave her a peck on top of her head.
“In short, I believed we had a positive friendship borne of mutual respect and interests. What I failed to recognize is the impact that these interactions had on this person, due to the disparity in our workplace rank. Of course, I should have recognized this from the start, and should have maintained a more distanced and professional relationship. I am deeply sorry for the discomfort I caused this person, and only wish her well.
“When this person eventually expressed her discomfort to me, I immediately respected her wishes and ceased communicating with her by text. She appropriately reported this situation to her supervisor, and I immediately and fully cooperated in the ensuing process, and have accepted the finding that my actions, however unintentionally, created an uncomfortable workplace environment for this employee. I have accepted and am completing a period of unpaid leave as a consequence for my error in judgment, which I recognize was wholly and only mine.
“This should have ended the matter. The affected employee has not taken the matter further, and has not sought to publicize or exploit it. I understand she expected and desired it to remain confidential, as the law requires. Her wishes should have been respected. Unfortunately, however, someone familiar with this situation broke her confidence (and the law), and has made it known to certain political operatives and a member of the press. These actors, unconcerned with this person’s reasonable expectation of privacy, are now publicizing it for their own political purposes.
“I wish to create no unnecessary distractions for the Governor, who I respect and admire, or for his Administration. I sincerely apologize to him for my lapse of judgment. I am carefully considering my next steps and will respect his wishes.”