Letter: Senator Giessel, you've lost my support - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Letter: Senator Giessel, you’ve lost my support

Editor,

Voters choose their representatives and senators for a multitude of reasons and there are a multitude of votes and policies that every legislator must deal with. 

 Sometimes, a legislator is unable to complete their term and a vacancy occurs.  There is time-honored process for filling the vacancy.
First, the local volunteers of the incumbent’s party (Democrat or Republican, typically) nominate replacements. 

Then usually the governor selects a nominee from the list provided by the volunteers representing the vacant district of the same party as the person originally elected. 

Finally,  the members of the House or the Senate of the same party as the elected incumbent vote to approve or disapprove of the governor’s nomination. 

There is give and take, and safeguards to ensure no one person or group can control the process.  When the govrnor ignores the local volunteers, the Legislators usually support a nominee of the volunteer citizens. 

The point is always to allow the people of the district to have the primary input, as long as the person they nominate is qualified.

The Legislature has never tossed aside the united advice of both the local party volunteers and the governor.  Ever.  That would be the height of arrogance and heavy-handed politics of the worst type. 

 Nevertheless, Senate President Giessel substituted her demand for purity over the residents of District M and the governor. 

For the first time in the history of the State of Alaska, a person elected to the Legislature from the District, nominated by the volunteers representing the Party in the District and appointed by the Governor, has been rejected by the Senators of that Party.

The vote was six to six. There is no way to sugar-coat this:  Such arrogance and disrespect has never been exercised before. Senate President Cathy Giessel lead just five of her colleagues (Senators Click Bishop, John Coghill, Natasha Von Imhof, Gary Stevens, and Bert Stedman) to reject Rep. Laddie Shaw. 

They had no reason, no grounds, no honest objection, except they hate the Permanent Fund dividend.  Their hatred for your PFD trumped all other issues, process, and precedent.

This is a dismal end to the long career of Sen. John Coghill.  He has always previously done his best to uphold the Constitution and the principles of good government.  Not this time. 

However, the person responsible for this outrageous rejection of Laddie Shaw — a retired Navy SEAL, former director of the State Trooper Academy and Executive Director of the Police Standards Council, and someone who replaced Chris Birch in the State House, and was elected in a landslide — is Senate President Cathy Giessel.

Sen. Giessel has confused personal power with high standards of public service.  Her arguments are ridiculous and disingenuous.  She is quoted as making the assertion that since Sen. Birch had been opposed to the statutory Permanent Fund dividend, she would only allow someone who shared his views on that specific issue to be approved. 

Never mind that the actual voters, the people of Senate District M in Anchorage who voted for Mr. Birch, also voted to elected two representatives who favored a full statutory PFD.  The people of Senate District M are not rigid, one-issue voters.  

The reality is that the Senate District M voters supported Mike Dunleavy for governor. Those same voters elected Laddie Shaw and Josh Revak to the State House and Chris Birch to the Senate. They knew what they were doing, and they were not simple one-issue fanatics. 

It is pure arrogance and an absurd and preposterous demand that all applicants now bow to Cathy Giessel’s and Natasha Von Imhof’s hatred of the full PFD.

Their argument is that since Chris Birch was against a full PFD, only an identical person can be approved for that seat.   But the voters of that same District elected two Representatives who are in favor of a full statutory PFD and a Governor who supports a full, statutory PFD.

The voters made complex choices based on many factors, Cathy Giessel and the five Senators who followed her lead substituted their desire kill the PFD and win at any cost and tossed aside a respected, elected, honorable veteran with a sterling record and character. 

As the former Chair of the Alaska Republican Party, I am disgusted by the irrational statements and arrogance represented by this vote. 

 Chris Birch and I were political friends.  I strongly supported his election to the State House and then to the State Senate.  Certianly, he and I fiercely disagreed about the PFD.  He opposed a full PFD, I supported a full, statutory PFD (as does the Alaska Republican Party).  We did not let that one disagreement pollute our friendship or political partnership.  Senator Giessel has embarassed herself, failed in her leadership, and staked a horrible red line: only if you hate the PFD will you be welcome in ‘her” Senate.

It is not “your” Senate, Ms. Giessel.  Your frenetic desire to “win” at any cost and your twisting of the process and the purpose of the law has cost you my support. 

I have long supported Senator Giessel through multiple elections, but will never do so again.   

Tuckerman Babcock

Former Chair, Alaska Republican Party

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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.

Latest comments

  • Again, if Senator Giessel was an “Officer” with a “Personal Bond” she could have had her “Personal Bond” seized and been removed from Office for not supporting the “Law” when she refused the Governor’s Lawful request to go to Wasilla for the Legislative Session. If we do not return to a “Constitutional Republic” we will loose our country. PLEASE learn what the “Law” says and means. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • Will someone check this guys meds?

      • Joe I suggest you go back to law school and read up on Bonds and the purpose of such! Read the statute’s also!

        • Sure thing Ed.
          Please give me citation to relevant statutory provisions.

  • Tuckerman,

    I tip my cap to you in support of your well thought out and drafted comment pertaining to the service to country, community and the State of Alaska by Laddy Shaw as compared to the condecending thoughtless self serving judgment of Queen Giessel. Your keen analysis was spot on. Well done.

  • There just might be 6 other senators who would have voted against if they’d known you would refuse to associate with them afterward.

  • It’s disgusting to hear that a distinguished American and a distinguished Alaskan who represents the official party platform re the pfd ( full, statutory) was turned away from taking Chris Birch’s seat in the Senate by fellow Republicans . Even worse that he was chosen by a Republican governor also in agreement with the official party platform re the pfd (full,statutory).

  • Agreed! I just moved into Senator Giessel’s district and will not be voting for her in any future election. I voted for Chris Birch but also voted for Josh Revak and had hoped Chris Birch would support a smaller government and a full PFD as Josh has done. I’m so tired of the mess with these so called Republicans in Juneau.

    • How about for the next go round, they nominate Laddie Shaw, Josh Revak and Dave Donley. Let the Governor choose his pick. And DARE the RINO Six reject one of them!

      Von Imhoff is my Senator. I really hope somebody primaries her.

    • Senator Birch didn’t support a full PFD.

      • I understand that. Maybe I wasn’t clear. I simply stated I voted for him and had hoped he would support a full PFD.

      • Shaw did support a full PFD prior to the election, he campaigned on it. It was after some time in Juneau that changed his course and supported a change to the formula. That means the district that elected him based at least some of their vote on the fact that the candidate was supporting a full dividend. I’m in the district effected — I think Shaw would be a great replacement as my new senator.

  • She is the captain hazlewood of the republican party 😡

    • Not true. That title was already taken by the author of this letter – Tuckerman Babcock.

  • Follow the money……Giessel is in the pocket of some powerful group……….she cares not one wit for the wishes of her constituents………time to recall this recalcitrant legislator……..and the other five that went along with her.

  • I agree Tuckerman. I have always had her back but no more.

  • She is so gone, going to draw unemployment.

  • Absolute wonderful exposition of the facts…though I find most will wilt based on the ‘California System’ policies.

    Get it Alaska?

  • Any one that that lets Senator Lyman Hoffman join a caucus, that didn’t need a Democrat vote to make a bare majority, isn’t deserving of any leadership position.

    What the six of you did to an honorable man is just despicable.

    Laddie they did you a roundabout favor, you won’t have to put Vicks vapor rub your your nose to sit by them.

  • Right on, Mr. Babcock!
    .
    Giessel’s supreme arrogance in deciding who will or will or will not represent Senate District M based on the candidate’s apparent willingness to violate state law is the last straw!
    .
    Governor Dunleavy, it is again respectfully requested that you re-nominate Mr. Shaw to represent Senate District M.
    .
    May we close in a loving way so as not to lose our comment privilege: Senators Bishop, Coghill, Von Imhof, Stevens, and Stedman… Giessell’s Goons… basking in their Imperial Authority to decide who does or does not represent Senate District M, kindly go to hell. And don’t come back!

  • AMEN and well said, Mr. Babcock! I wish I lived in Giessel’s district so I could HAPPILY help vote her out. …. Wait a minute, no, that would have me living in the cesspool that is Anchorage and I wouldn’t live there for anything. ~ But PLEASE, voters in her district (also in Von Imhof’s, Stedman’s, Coghill’s, Stevens’ and Bishop’s) GET RID OF THEM as soon as you can. Alaska’s true Republicans are counting on you.

    • Exactly how I feel. I will gladly work to help get elected any true Republican who actually knows what it means to follow the law and who is running against any of them. It is truly a shame that these 6 ran on a political ticket that they claim to support and believe in, yet instead go against their Governor, their constituents and the law. All 6 of these traitors need to be voted out!

  • “It is pure arrogance and an absurd and preposterous demand that all applicants now bow to Sen. Giessel’s newfound hatred of the full PFD” says Tuckerman Babcock.

    His choice of invective is misapplied. Mr. Babcock epitomized “arrogance” and “absurdity” during his misguided and mercifully abbreviated term as chief of staff. What’s “preposterous”? Babcock’s diatribe, Dunleavy’s governance, and Dunleavy’s choice for his initial chief of staff.

  • If the PFD formula needs to be changed, then change the law and follow it. Our legislature has for years now taken it upon itself to decide what the PFD will be. Only AFTER it has spent what it wants. This needs to stop. This is not power that our legislature should have.

  • I am so very happy that we have political leaders who are endowed with more wisdom than we the people. Their knowledge is clearly above and beyond anything that the electorate is able to comprehend. Perhaps in the future , elections should be canceled and Cathy and Bert and a select few can hold the reins of power for life.
    Obviously we the people were hoodwinked and only elected Dunleavy because of our own personal avarice. I salute Cathy and Bert and the rest of the Weasels of 6 for their display of courage!

    • Joe I suggest you go back to law school and read up on Bonds and the purpose of such! Read the statute’s also!

      • Please provide citation.

  • Then again, Tuckerman, you had a hand in creating this mess by refusing to work with the legislature to arrive at a solution to the PFD. While you were Chief of Staff, the Governor’s Office refused to work toward something that would satisfy both sides of the divide.

    The ONLY reason I still support the PFD is as a vehicle to ensure some sort of permanent control of spending is passed. But when you so irritate the legislators on your side of the political fence that they not only refuse to work with you but to even listen to you, you end up with what happened this week. Congratulations. You helped make this bed. And now the rest of us will need to lie in it.

    I view the PFD as a 2-step process. First step is to pay out everything sitting in the Earnings Reserve that Bill Walker stole to pay for his natural gas pipeline. Second step would be to pass a revision of the formula along with the Constitutional Amendment capping state spending. Do it and everyone is happy. And everyone has done their job. But you chose to hard ball it from the Governor’s Office, putting everyone at each other’s throats. Big mistake, that. Cheers –

  • Shaw should have been confirmed unanimously.

    But Mr. Babcock weighing in here and describing various Republicans as being “arrogant” (as he does multiple times), is more than a little ironic, coming as it does from a guy who demonstrated massive arrogance and incompetence as Chief of Staff for Governor Dunleavy.

    Mr. Babcock has some skills, of course, but not many in the area of administration and his failures in regard to administration, communication and personnel selection caused enormous political grief for Mike Dunleavy and pretty much have lead to the demise of the whatever opportunities Governor Dunleavy had to put Alaska on a sustainable fiscal footing.

    Babcock was miscast in the role of the Chief of Staff from day one and should have been slotted into a position where his skills could have been valuable. Instead, in a stunning display of incompetence, Mr. Babcock demonstrated less skill in the role of Chief of Staff than the problematic tenure of James F. Clark during the administration of Frank Murkowski or the tedious and tumultuous tenure of Jim Whittaker during Bill Walker’s ill-fated term as governor. Most seasoned political observers in Alaska did not believe it was possible to exceed the incompetence exhibited by Clark or Whittaker in regard to acting as a chief of staff but Mr. Babcock proved pretty much everyone wrong on this point when he recalibrated the standards for incompetence to a new low. Think that’s a tad harsh? There’s a full on recall of Mike Dunleavy underway less than one year in his term due, in no small part to the incompetence of Tuckerman Babcock.
    Whether Babcock’s implicit threats to take out the current President of the Alaska Senate will come to pass is anything beyond huffing and puffing is an interesting question. Mr. Babcock’s attempts to remove Republican legislators in the past, including Louise Stutes and Gabrielle LeDoux did’t work out and almost certainly caused the House of Representatives in the Alaska Legislature to organize in a bi-partisan manner.

    As a Republican, my thought is that maybe Tuckerman Babcock should take up gardening or some other activity that he might enjoy and where he could add value. If there is a role for Babcock in politics, it certainly wasn’t as a governor’s chief of staff or in a capacity that requires constant attention to many details, large and small.

    Alaska needs a reduction in political chattering and operating our little state government like a club house gang. We need more value in terms of delivery of services. Babcock was packed agencies with pals and cronies with too little regard for merit or public service. As fast as the OMB was recommending cuts, Tuckerman was putting old friends and poltical hacks on the payroll.
    Naturally, this kind of activity has consequences, a feature that impacts Governor Dunleavy.

    Time will tell whether the current President of the Alaska Senate retires, runs or is reelected. The voters in her district will have a say in that if she elects to run again. If she runs, I would like to think that her constituents will make up their own minds based on her record and not because of the statements of a guy like Tuckerman Babcock, someone who has routinely demonstrated the fantastic feat of reverse alchemy — the ability to turn gold into pot metal.

  • Want some names of the public-labor union brought and paid for ingrained Alaska Deep State, then read the list of so-called Republican Senators (RINO PFD STEALING) who voted against retired Navy SEAL and Alaska State Trooper trainer Laddie Shaw.
    Remember these traitors next Alaska election. The Republican Party needs to rid the party of these Deranged Democrats RINOs operating as Republicans who voted against Shaw:
    Here the RINO traitors, Senators Giessel, John Coghill, Gary Stevens, Bert Stedman, Click Bishop, and Natasha Von Imhof.
    What was Shaw thinking when asked where he would have gone if the session was called anywhere but Juneau. The RINOs didn’t like Shaw’s answer, “I would follow the law.” The RINOs don’t care about the law if they don’t like it.
    Remember these bastards and DO NOT RE-ELECT THEM.

    • Cue up theme tune from Men in Black to accompany Mr. Dryden’s conspiracy theory rant.

      • Mr. Dryden is spot on… stop lying to yourself JOE ! Mr. I am a union attorney for the right price! There is no full PFD in your horizon representing the unions !

        • Ed: Try and conform to reality.
          I know this the “modern world” where making material up is pretty much the way of the world but would it kill you to engage in fact based analysis.

  • I will not be voting for Bert Stedman, nor will most in my large family in his district. Will be opposing his re-election, and if the republicans do not run a solid opponent to him in the primary we can vote for, I will vote for his democrat opponent in the general. Might as well have a real democrat rather than a democrat pretending to be a republican. Same with Representative Ortiz. Will not be voting for him, will be opposing him, and casting my vote to whomever his opponent turns out to be. Can’t tolerate these socialists pretending to be republicans, then stealing from the people to fund big government. This stealing of the PFD’s has severely damaged the economies of all the rural areas.

    Can’t believe the administration salaries at the U of A, they need to be cut and plenty of room there to cut, as well as other places. NO public employee in Alaska should be paid $600k salary!

    The only FAIR way to cut is to go back to 2005, before the spending binge, and adopt that budget with inflation proofing to date, then cut EVERY position added since, and every program added or extended! Instead they use line item vetoes and cut programs essential to the rural areas and protect all the pork that was placed in the Anchorage area, and protect the Anchorage/Fairbanks corridor economy while throwing the rural areas to the sharks!

  • Tuckerman is 1/2 right ” I supported a full, statutory PFD. Right …… Wrong (as does the Alaska Republican Party). the party would not vote to support the full PFD or put it into the Constitution!

  • Agreed Tuckerman. I forgave Cathy for her “life begins at heartbeat” bill; I forgave her for promoting POMV as a new formula for the PFD; and though I was extremely opposed to both ideas, I counted the Giessels my friends – having worked with her husband on some policy issues. This power grab has caused me to question my own judgment as to Cathy’s character – what has changed in her that has caused her to lead her colleagues down such an arrogantly stupid path? This is testing my ability to forgive – and this after remonstrating the SCC with “Love your neighbor as yourself”! Cathy, reconsider Laddie Shaw for senate M or please step down.

  • I was the 3rd highest contributor to Giessel’s campaigns–more than $3,500. I now see that as a bad investment decision. Unfortunately, Senator Giessel has ensured that the Democrats will either take over the senate after the next election OR she will be the leader of the NEW Senate Bipartisan Coalition. Remember, that coalition of Ds and Rs back in the 2010-2014 time frame that spent money like there was no tomorrow?

    • That’s nothing David. Imagine Ed Rasmusen’s buyer’s remorse when he blew $25K supporting the Dunleavy campaign…. to say nothing of Joe Usibelli’s similar regret about supporting the ever duplicitous Dunleavy.

      • Oh yeah……Joe Usibelli….the coal miner who secures long term coal contracts with the coal hating UAF, to put in the UAF’s new 275 million dollar coal power plant. THAT Joe Usibelli.

    • The decision to contribute fund to a campaign or candidate is not an investment.

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