Pong-gate: What happens in Juneau stays in Juneau, so no leg-wrestling tapes to be released by Legislative Affairs Agency - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, May 12, 2021
HomePoliticsPong-gate: What happens in Juneau stays in Juneau, so no leg-wrestling tapes to be released by Legislative Affairs Agency

Pong-gate: What happens in Juneau stays in Juneau, so no leg-wrestling tapes to be released by Legislative Affairs Agency

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The videotape of legislators playing pingpong, board games, drinking beer, and leg wrestling in the Capitol’s Terry Miller gymnasium on March 31 will not be released, according to the Legislative Affairs Agency.

The party involved Rep. Sara Rasmussen, Rep. Zack Fields, Rep. Kelly Merrick, and non-legislators.

Must Read Alaska made a public records request for the tapes, and received a speedy reply from the agency’s Executive Director Jessica Geary, who stated,” Per Section IV of the Records Policy (Security Camera Policy), security camera video tapes, digital recordings, or other surveillance material are confidential and may not be released to the public or press, except as required by subpoena or other court order.”

Others have put in similar records requests, including reporters from KTOO, KTUU, the Anchorage Daily News, and even Sen. Shelley Hughes, who wanted to know if any senators were involved. They were not.

Geary said that other non-video records she has related to the matter are in the possession of Rep. Sara Hannan, and that Hannan has indicated that as chair of the Legislative Council, she will not be releasing them to Must Read Alaska, based on the Legislative Council’s policy, the deliberative process privilege, and on Art. II, Sec. 6 of the Alaska Constitution.

“Therefore, a Legislator’s records are not subject to disclosure under AS 40.25.110 – 40.25.122. Each Legislator
may, at his or her discretion, elect to release or not to release information from that Legislator’s
own records. I have spoken with Representative Hannan regarding her legislative records. She
asked that I communicate to you that any records in her possession, which may include the records
you have requested, will not be produced in response to your request, based on the above policy.

The morning after the party, Geary had sent a memo to all legislators and staff members:

Dear Legislators and Legislative Staff;
May this email serve as a friendly reminder that the Terry Miller gymnasium is currently set up as a meeting space with fragile a/v equipment, an expensive stage — which was set up for a possible joint floor session, and chairs set up for socially distanced meetings. There is a process in place to reserve the gym, which is to contact my office at 465-3800 or by email at Gym.Schedu|[email protected]|eg.gov. Ifthere is no existing reservation, you may play ping pong or shoot hoops, as long as doing so doesn’t interfere with the gym setup and you clean up after yourself. There are general rules and guidelines for the gym, as well as a reservation calendar, which can be found on the Executive Director’s intranet page.

Also as a reminder, per Legislative Council policy, legislative buildings are closed to the public and there is nobody authorized to be in legislative facilities that hasn’t gone through the legislature’s COVID-19 testing and screening protocols. Further, it is a violation of policy to lend someone your keycard so they can gain access to a legislative building and you should not hold the door open to let people in that don’t have a keycard. Those needing access without a keycard should call Security at 465-1414. Thank you everyone for your cooperation and understanding. Have a wonderful Easter weekend. Best regards,
Jessica

During the party, one of the members gave her key card to a companion to go get more beer, a violation of building policy, prompting the executive director of the agency to remind legislators and staff to not allow the public into the building or loan their key cards to others.

Since Must Read Alaska can’t show readers the actual video of legislators leg wrestling with a blogger and others, we have found a generic leg-wrestling video to explain the nuances of the game:

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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

  • Why not play out? Which is your privilege.

  • And if this party involved, say David Eastman, would they be as resistant to have it looped neverendingly in the news cycle? Ha ha ha ha ha, of course the rules are different for the precious chosen leaders than the rest of us. Just ask the families of Ashli Babbit or Jaslyn Adams about equality under the law and fairness in the media.

  • And the Senate punishes Senator Rienbold for taking her mask off in a meeting?

    Then has the audacity to put the blame on her for the holdup of the entire legislative process?????

    The House is a clown show for the last two years.

    We need a new law that states that on the morning of the 6th day, if leadership has not been elected and seated in either body of the legislature, the Governor shall appoint the Speaker and Finance Chair.

    Enough of paying for petty politics.

  • None of this concerns you peasants, peons, peanut gallery dwellers and unwashed masses! Be gone from our hallowed, sequestered and private halls with your requests for information and demands for responsible elected officials! We are Alaska and we’ll live as we like and you’ll do as we tell you to. Particularly when we write the laws and statuates. Never forget those laws are for thee, not we! Signed, Alaska Legislature, with a shout out to the Municipality of Anchorage Assembly!

  • We’re rapidly on our way to a two tier system in our country. The wealthy political, entertainment, and sports elite and then just the rest of us serfs. Two sets of rules, two sets of standards.

  • We need to make sure all Senators wear masks – and all Representatives wear sweatpants.

  • If actual conservatives had been involved the tapes would be on view everywhere.

  • Good, can we get backing to crucifying Reinbold now, what she did is way worse…….eternal eye roll.

  • Evil works best in the dark.

  • We Alaskans are not served every well with the elite in Juneau.

  • Right on Willy Keppel. I might even be able to forgive them for their travesty – but at least let us watch it so we can have fun too! I now they’re not capable, but the legislature needs to stop with the virtue signaling and get the people’s work done. BTW, why does the legislature have their own gym, that I assume, the bankrupt State is paying for? Did we pay for the beer too? Must have been some seriously embarrassing footage, that the Legislative Council chair has to (dictatorially) invoke privacy “rules” – I would think that Hannan would want to release the video if it proved that the activities were innocent fun. Hiding them just proves guilt. The public has a right to know, and I’m assuming the worst until they prove otherwise. Suzanne – please keep after this story, thanks.

  • Is that why they’re stealing the PFD…

  • I wonder if their husbands get to see the leg wrestling videos?

  • We have a two tier system but the average voter does not care as the same clowns get voted in. If the voter looked at how they are getting treated they might not like it. The state AG should get to the bottom of this and if laws have been broken then the price needs to be payed not a free pass. It is us against them and we need to stand up and level the playing field.

  • The cover-up is worse than the crime. We are left with the perception that something really juicy was on the tape. Did something of a sexual nature take place? Was a criminal act committed? Perhaps. What are they hiding? Voters need to hold Stutes and others who are actively covering this up need to be held accountable.

  • The specific reason why Speaker Stutes will not release the tapes is because she needs them for leverage for votes as the legislature closes it’s session. Watch the votes closely with the leg wrestling legislators.

  • Well, Fields did say that he liked Sara’s legs !!!!!!!

  • Stop embarrassing yourselves. There are much more important things on the agenda than ping pong. This winter must have been way too long for some of you that actually stayed in Alaska.

  • Did you expect otherwise?

  • Mama gonna allow some leg wrestlin around here…

  • Remember these legislators at election time.

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