Now we know about Byron Mallott's sin ... but what exactly do we know? - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, May 12, 2021
HomeThe 907Now we know about Byron Mallott’s sin … but what exactly do we know?

Now we know about Byron Mallott’s sin … but what exactly do we know?

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The Anchorage Daily News has gotten the full story about what former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said that made him quickly resign from office in October of 2018. They’ve got it on paper and on tape. From one side. And the newspaper has declared it the truth.

The story told by Jody Potts, former Village Public Safety Officer, is that Mallott propositioned her. Or rather, he said some things that made her uncomfortable, because it wasn’t that much of a proposition. There were no witnesses to that event and Mallott died of a heart attack earlier this year.

The story that made its way around AFN and finally to Must Read Alaska in 2018 was different. Mallott had attended the Elders and Youth conference, which is the opening act for the AFN annual convention. Something happened — he made an inappropriate comment to a female who was said to be a teenager, and daughter of his alleged paramour. None of it was confirmable, but today Potts says she barely knew Mallott.

That’s not what the record shows. Although photos of the two together have been scrubbed from the internet, it’s known in political circles that he was her protector. She emerged out of nowhere to take a lead role in public safety in the Walker Administration, invited to every meeting and thrust into leading positions. She had been brought into the Administration by Mallott, who was running a lot of the administration while the governor focused on building a gasline.

The event described by the ADN happened before she ended up becoming decertified as a law enforcement officer in Alaska. For what? Not telling the truth about an accident she was involved in. She can no longer serve in law enforcement roles in Alaska at any level, MRAK has learned.

There is also the matter of the nondisclosure agreement she had with the Mallott family. Readers can only assume that Potts has not broken the agreement. She has presumably not told the ADN reporter anything that is contained in that agreement. And her daughter did not sign the agreement, so she was free to fill in the details.

Even stranger is that one single utterance in a five-minute conversation with the lieutenant governor, unwitnessed and without an investigation, was enough to cause his best friend Gov. Bill Walker to accept his resignation within 48 hours. Walker never even knew the details of what happened, the story goes.

That story requires Alaskans to suspend disbelief.

But history is written by the survivors, and dead men tell no tales. Alaskans will never truly know what happened at the Elders and Youth Conference in 2018. We have to take Jody Potts’ word for it. There will be other versions of that story that float around Native and political circles, but she was the only one in the room.

It’s a cautionary tale for men in high places: No matter how high up you are, and how protected you are, you can be brought down in a heartbeat by saying the wrong thing. In the end, it will be “he said, she said,” and she will prevail.

(When contacted by the ADN for the Mallott story, this writer asked if it was on or off the record. Writer Kyle Hopkins said “I’m not going off the record with you.” His description of our subsequent conversation was accurate.)

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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

  • “No matter how high up you are, and how protected you are, you can be brought down in a heartbeat by saying the wrong thing.”

    No, Suzanne, it is not even about saying the wrong thing; it is the mere perception of offense. I personally know people recently losing jobs for unspecified, undefined actions or words which offended ‘someone’, who is then granted anonymity. Even hinting at the improper political position can lead to termination when a coworker feels ‘threatened’.

    • There is some truth to your words. About a year and a half ago, I was commenting online about how the speaker of the House in my opinion didn’t like natives because he was taking away their PFD that they counted on every year. Offered him an example of a single mother with five kids and even on welfare and with tribal assistance was still struggling. He emailed me back saying that he was offended and now his son was all hurt about my comments. I told him I didn’t mean to offend his son who was 18 years old at the time . And then he started telling me about how he gets pce for the natives and various other programs but I knew better. All of those subsidies and entitlements are approved by the governor . The next day he is sitting next to our superintendent at a graduation ceremony. To continue with the timeline, a few days later my wife gets a phone call from the upper admin. He told her that the speaker didn’t like me talking down to him. Later on, on here, I voiced my opinion many times about the speaker and again she got phone calls and 3 days before we resigned, I got a phone call saying how he was doing this for my own good and as a friend blah blah blah, but the higher administration person said that if I didn’t stop my wife could get into trouble. He said he got a phone call from someone and they told him that “he’s at it again”. I took this as a threat to my first amendment rights and also my livelihood, he didn’t come right out and say she would be fired but it was implied that would be the end result. So 3 days later we resigned told Alaska to kiss it and now we’re in Florida soaking up the sun . Things have a way of working out for the better but you’ve got to be willing to play out the hand or fold and just take it. Some would say we folded, but not before voicing my opinion and by leaving Alaska, it allows me to write this without fear of reprisal. Neither the speaker or the administration person knew at the time that I was native and when I told him that, he seems surprised and shocked and it seemed to take away something from his argument because why doesn’t think a native or anyone for that matter have the ability to voice their opinion?

  • Obviously you don’t even have to say anything to have allegations levied against you,

  • More than likely she’s been paid hush money and or threatened with her health. It happens. Just look at the clintons.

    • She full admits she’s been paid to remain silent, that’s what the nondisclosure agreement is all about.

      • Anthony Mallot, Byron Mallot’s son, said that the amount was minor.

  • I thought the ADN article was fishy. Why disclose anything if there was an NDA? Why would Mallott resign so quickly over what he allegedly said to Potts and then hide it with an NDA? Nope, I don’t believe Potts.

    • And we can be justified in our belief that the NDA is held in place by lots and lots of money. I wonder if Kyle Hopkins is going to get a cut of that now…

  • Pretty courageous for you to
    have an on the record conversation with any ADN reporter that was not recorded. I personally would be worried that what I said to Hopkins would be misinterpreted, or twisted into something I did not say.
    As for what really happened with Mallot, it is likely never to come out. But it is inconceivable that the few words allegedly uttered by by him to Jody Potts would have had him resign and Walker to withdraw from the election. Imo there has to be a lot more to this story.
    What is offensive however is how ADN is so quick to insinuate that Suzanne lied about what she heard. She is a reporter who has many sources. Why would she make something up? Either side to this saga involving Mallott is salacious enough to catch plenty of readers without having to make something up.
    I think that ADN views Suzanne as the competition that needs to be taken down. But that ain’t going to happen. Too many readers are tired of the one sided bent of ADN and want accurate and researched journalism. And that’s what comes out of MRAK.

  • Female privilege, anyone?

  • The worst part of this is that a spinmeister like Kyle Hopkins will use this opportunity, because he can, to sanitize the role of people like Scott Kendall and smudge up others, like the intrepid Ms. Downing. Because of the death of Mallot and the potential interest in Potts in shielding others, Hopkins can attempt to rewrite history. Maybe he can get away with it, or maybe not. The truth has a way of getting out.

  • Wasn’t Potts the VPSO official who parked her car at Tanana Lakes in Fairbanks, and didn’t like the way someone parked their car near her…….so she rammed it aside and took off leaving lots of damage behind?

    • Yeah that’s her.

      • The Troopers should have arrested Potts. But Byron got her off the hook……again. What else did she do that caused trouble? Byron saw a clear path to take advantage. And he did.

  • Pure cover-up by the ADN, when in fact it should have been a national news story. Shows you how Leftist journalists protect their own guilty.
    If you want to really know the truth about Byron Mallott and why he quickly resigned, ask Donna Walker, Bill’s wife. She knows the entire story.
    There was a knock-down, drag-down heated exchange between her and Byron Mallott before he got canned (resigned). You could also talk to Jim Whitaker, Bill Walker’s former Chief of Staff. Or, Jim’s wife, Jinx. Lots of secrets to divulge (or indulge). But you would have to go to Arizona for that interview.

    • Byron had a nasty temper and a mean spirit. And he used foul language, when enraged.

      • Me, too.

  • Cautionary tale: A man can get taken down in a heartbeat by saying something to a woman that offends her. Cautionary tale #2: A woman can get taken down for saying she was mistreated by a man. Conclusion: be thoughtful and not act a fool, a humbug, a molester or a booty bandit .

    • This is especially true when the perpetrator is in a position of power, and should know better. Both Mallot and Clarkson claimed their comments were benign. Experts and the law rightly have concluded that it is the victims, and not the perpetrators, who define whether or not a statement is sexual harassment.

      • “Experts” and the “law” have concluded…., but not necessarily rightly. Law and truth are separate entities that don’t always converge. Truth is frequently neglected in today’s legal environment. I often wonder why attorneys are not required to swear to pursue the truth like those on the witness stand.

  • Has Scott Kendall or Bill Walker ever come forward about when and where Byron Mallott’s State issued SUV was stolen from right about the time this issue came to light?
    How about it Scott Kendall? When and where was that SUV stolen, and why did you never make that information available to the public?
    I heard it was stolen from a Spenard hotel.

    • A sleazy Spenard hotel? Guess old Mallott was on a budget during his extra-marital trysts and peccadillos.

      • I’m going to go with the puffin.

        • I was thinking…..Mush Inn.

          • No, first class Byron was at the Captain Cook. Of course, it was all on state money.

      • Why isn’t there a like button on this thing?

  • Wow, Walker sure made sure he had plenty of plausible deniability…either that or he was a completely incompetent governor.
    One detail that I really didn’t understand in the ADN story is they talk about her heart rate and they show her heart rate monitor and it directly contradicts what is said in the story. Her heart rate was high all day, especially for someone training for a marathon or whatever it was, then around 4 pm it spikes for about an hour then it drops well below what it was all day, but they claim she needed medical care because her heart rate was elevated??? The very evidence they put forth contradicts the story they are trying to tell.

    • Unless the were in there snorting coke.

  • A Native Man using his power to control a Native women. Where have we heard this story before?
    My question is, who cares ADN?
    Mallott will be remembered for what he was, a corrupt Native Politician.
    Instead of breaking the chain of Native Women abuse by Native Men, Mallott added a link in the chain of abuse.

    • Joe is correct. And if a Native man is a chief, medicine man, or in a position of authority, that culture lets slide the sexual abuse. even if the victim is underage. May Byron Mallott RIH.

  • Thank you MustReadAK. Thoughtful analysis, and great reporting! When I read the ADN story I laughed. Byron Mallott would not have resigned as Lt. Gov. and collapsed the Walker-Mallott ticket because a woman said he said something, no matter what that something was. I knew him for 40 years. Byron was like the actor Wes Studi; everyone’s idea of what someone in that role should look like.

    I have always wondered if that was why he was so angry. I think he knew he was the ultimate PM, and may have been frustrated he couldn’t seem to get it right.

    The Potts woman story is not believable but she may well be trying to keep this from defining her daughter, and that would be laudable.

    Mallott was Juneau mayor for only a very short time, just a few months the way I remember it but perhaps it was about one year.

    He was fired as Permanent Fund manager.

    Twice he took Sealaska Corp. to what would have been bankruptcy for a non-ANCSA company.

    He had a knack for buying high and selling low; Ocean Beauty Seafoods, assembling computers in southeast villages, ABC brick, an HI construction company, a casino, producing chemicals for the paper industry, ocean-going tugs, plastic components manufacture for high tech, and on and on, always using money from the federal timber and tax-payer cash given Sealaska Corp. (The clear-cuts would be visible from the moon.) So he was less qualified to be on the Alaska Airlines Board, and on the board of one of the regional Federal Reserve Banks than would someone chosen at random from the phone book. He simply looked the part, like that actor.

    He was the ultimate PM. And possibly that is why he moved aside as the Alaska Democrats’ choice to run for Governor, letting Walker take that spot (Walker, who had run many times and never won an election). People who grew up with him tell me he did not grow up as an Alaska Native. He was able to invent himself, speaking and dressing a certain way, and Alaskans can be as good at that as anyone. He was able to obtain millions of dollars personally from his ability to invent himself, but possibly he could have done even better in Hollywood, and he might not have been as angry.

    I hope the Potts girls got at least a couple of those millions. RIP.

    • A Chief Dan George……Byron was not. Not even good enough to play in a third-rate spaghetti western.

  • Is this some kind of lame apology for getting the story wrong?

    • Not in the slightest. There’s more truth being told on this site than in 5 months on CNN. Call it gossip, conjecture or just rumors. The facts are look at the end result and go backwards from there and that’ll get you close to the truth.

  • I generally disagreed with the leftist politics of Byron Mallott. For example, I believe his opposition to the Capital Access Road Project was short-sighted and very ill-informed. That said, I believe we should all be very careful about jumping on some bandwagon of vilification of Mr. Mallott. Women accusers come forth now to tell their stories only after he has died? They use far-fetched reasoning that bullying is causing a sudden need to come forward? How convenient…. to somehow need to go public only after the accused is in the grave. Let’s be careful.

    • Wayne, try saying that to one of Byron’s sexual victims who was petrified of the man coming after her while he was alive. After he’s gone…..not so much, that is, unless Byron still makes visitations.

      • He will if Potts tells the truth.

  • There is no sin so terrible, no crime so abhorrent, that they left and the media won’t Smear, lie, deny, cover up, or become accomplice to, if it’s one of their own they are protecting.

    This is what the ideology of “power for powers sake” leads to. Anything and everything is justified. The only truth, is the one that advances their cause, which is the acquisition of power, pure and simple. Everything else is pretense.

  • History will include the details of how the dynasty fell. I want to know (with some humor) about where the SUV was taken. Alaska is full of tall tales told in retrospect with a grain of salt and gumption. As a woman plying in the State and Tribal world willingly or unwillingly threw herself in with the wolves. I imagine that anyone who would back a state vehicle into another parked vehicle just to move it out of the way has the moxie to handle herself in any number of situations- including the one she willingly or unwillingly walked into with Mr. Mallot. Keep is classy Ms Potts. You have everyone’s attention now.

  • Suzanne, you used the term “mainstream media”. While that term may have been appropriate at some point in time in the past, that is no longer the case. Most of the media is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. I use the term “fakestream media” myself. Others call it the “lamestream media” Either one is more accurate than “mainstream media”.

  • It appears, for some reason, Mallot was expendable. Not unlike Matt Lauer or Harvey Weinstein. Guys like Bill Clinton can go on and womanize and molest forever with abandon. But if you’re not really “in” you are expendable and will be used by the Left to make themselves appear to care. Don’t feel sorry for anyone here. Play with the wolves you’ll get bit.

    • Jim,
      Same principle would probably apply to Joe Biden. Hair-sniffing, digital-penetrating, little-girl grabbing, pony soldier.

  • As a mother, NEVER would I have gone 2 seconds let alone 2 years before coming forward to let the world know it was ME and not my teenage daughter that was propositioned by Byron if that was the truth. So Jody….you actually allowed your own child to be tortured and teased and gossiped about for 2 YEARS before saying it was actually you. No mother would do that to their teenage daughter. So…hmmm….what gives? I think we know. There’s something missing here.

  • Ohhh for heavens sake. I guess getting irate and offended is one route to take. Yapping around AFN about is another. I think it can be assumed that they knew each other- how well is up for discussion. However, having been in that position a few times in my lengthy career, I have stood up and said “Thanks but no thanks” and walked. My philosophy is that no one gets into my head or my bubble unless I give them permission to get there (barring a full fledged assault) but this was not a full fledged assault. It seemed more like a dirty old man seeing how far he could tease this along. Shaking my head at how much negativity Ms Potts has caused for herself by yapping around about this. I don’t forgive the old man, but pull those britches up and learn a lesson. Don’t let anyone into your head space or bubble. Sorry for the Mallot family for the heart ache this has caused you.

  • Everyone has an opinion, what’s new? My two cents, I know Jody Potts personally. She is an amazingly strong, honest, caring hard working mother. Her parenting skills (largely as a single mom) are second to none. She’s taught her kids to be polite, have pride in their heritage and to live off the land (to the extent the rest of us still do). She’s not a whiner, she worked hard to get where she was professionally, and she’s made a difference in so many lives. I don’t know much about the incident that got her banned from law enforcement, but I know her character and her strength. She’s not someone who would choose to ruin anyone’s career or life over a proposition, however, being propositioned in that manner by a man of his stature, was so completely inappropriate, I am not surprised Walker made the choice he did. Mallot was a creep, who knows how many other women he inappropriately propositioned and threatened over the years. He picked the wrong target, his mistake. Being attracted to someone is human nature. Expressing it is human nature. Expressing attraction, when married and in a position of authority, is something else. Especially when coupled with any passive aggressive comments pertaining to their past support of the person and insinuation of their power as a negotiation tool. Shame on Byron. Jody Potts will continue to be a strong proud leader in Alaska, she will be a powerful voice for native women into the future. This is something that’s sorely needed in our state and elsewhere. Like I said, everyone’s got an opinion, but I believe Jody in her account of what happened that night at the hotel. I’m glad she spoke up, NDA or not.

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