Punishment meted by Senate Republican leadership: Conservative members take beating over stimulus vote


Four members of the 14-member Senate Majority are in the doghouse with their Republican leadership because of their votes favoring a stimulus dividend during the final hours of the legislative session that ended last week.

Before the session came to a close in Juneau, Senators Mia Costello, Shelley Hughes, Mike Shower, and Lora Reinbold did not vote the way the Republican majority leadership wanted them to vote regarding a COVID-19 relief check for all Alaskans.


It was a procedural vote and involved parliamentary maneuvers that most readers will skip over:

The votes came after Sen. Reinbold proposed four amendments to the COVID-19 relief money appropriation.

Senate President Cathy Giessel ruled those amendments out of order, and Reinbold objected and challenged the ruling of the chair.

Votes were then taken on whether Reinbold’s amendments could be voted on. Ten Republicans voted one way, but the four conservative Republicans were more varied in their votes on the amendments, voting for some but not others. They did not vote as a bloc.

In summary, Giessel prevented a vote on a dividend stimulus check.

Then, after she gaveled out, she punished the four Republican legislators who wanted the ability to vote their conscience.


The punishment for the four came after they were called to a private meeting with Senators Click Bishop and Bert Stedman in Anchorage this week. Bishop, who flew down from Fairbanks, and Stedman, who flew up from Sitka, told the four that there would be punishment for their rogue votes.

Sen. Mia Costello said her punishment is that she lost 21 “points,” the equivalent of one staff position. Today, she broke the news to the longest-serving legislative aide in Alaska history, Tom Wright, that he would be let go. Giessel was not allowing the four Republicans to divide up their remaining points so they could keep one person part time.

Sen. Mike Shower, Sen. Lora Reinbold, and Sen. Shelley Hughes had already lost staff due to previous votes that went against leadership, so punishing them was more difficult.

Giessel told them that they would no longer have access to the general legislative staff that serves the entire Republican Majority: Press Secretary Daniel McDonald, I.T. expert Peter Torkelson, Attorney Chad Hutchinson, and natural resource expert Rena Miller, who is no longer Giessel’s chief of staff but who is now staff to the Majority.


The four senators who represent conservative strongholds in the state are now so marginalized by their Republican leadership team that they have no benefits left for staying in the Majority at all.

If the four decide to walk away from the Republican caucus, that majority would be reduced to 10 — not a majority. Giessel would have to turn to her allies on the Democrat Minority side — Sen. Tom Begich, Sen. Bill Wielechowski, and Sen. Lyman Hoffman. (Hoffman already serves Giessel as her majority leader and suffered no punishment from Giessel even after he broke ranks and voted against the budget.)

Forming a coalition with Democrats during an election year is tricky business for those Republicans up for election. But the punishment given to the four conservative Republicans will only burnish their own credentials in their districts. Up for election this year is Shelley Hughes, but also Cathy Giessel.

With the latest punishments, coming after the session gaveled out “sine die,” the Giessel-led majority has no more sticks to use to beat the Senate Republicans into submission.


  1. Giessel is just a broken person. All she can do now is hurt people, so that is what she’s going to do. It’s all about power and the lust thereof.

  2. So ,just as before I could not understand a bit of the “Greek” or “Geek” ramblings of points equate to someone’s job was lost because of political “mumbo jumbo” and we will show them not to go against us attitude.

    My thought is that none of these children play a fair game of “sand box” and the Public needs to put all of them in “time out” for not being fair, time to get a new fresh look to having these so called elected(representatives) who think that they are leaders to go away and get some real Men and Women who can get the job done. Never seen such a “Punk” show.

  3. Giessel, Senator Shelley Hughes speaks for her constituents, not your agenda. Can’t wait for the day this fall when you are voted out then you can go cry in your little corner.

  4. Wow. This what Democrats do, she should be replaced or impeached. What ever happened to free speech ? Shameful.

    • Cathy Giessel is no longer legitimate. I voted for her but she no longer represents the majority of her constituents. Vote for Roger Holland and let’s get Giessel into her much-undeserved retirement. Roger Holland is the “real deal” conservative Republican!

  5. Another example of how the staffing and funding structure of our State Legislature is fundamentally wrong. It leads to manipulation, corruption, and it needs to go!!

  6. Who died and made her “God”?
    What kind of political BS goes on down there??? People are elected to represent their communities — to vote as the majority of their constituents want them to — NOT as a party member falling into line in fear of a punishment. Sounds like Trump’s bullying tactics have reached the Last Frontier. I don’t care what party you prefer — these strong armed tactics and all the political BS has to end!
    And firing staff? — Why do they staff with Brownie Points?? WTH? The old time career staffers are probably the only ones who know what they’re doing down there. The State systems would fall apart without them.
    We should scrap all the elected people all at once and start fresh! This BS is infuriating.

    • All I can say is I’m one of the luckiest people in Alaska. I’m not only in Sen. Giessel’s district, but also Rep. Johnston’s. As a voter, this excites me as much as my Florida vote 20 years ago.

  7. Sounds like grade school kids on the playground. “If you don’t want to play the game our way, we won’t let you use any of the toys”. Childish, primitive behavior, limiting their ability to do their jobs.

  8. To punish Republicans but not punish Senator Hoffman is outrageous behavior but at the same time very transparent. No ambiguity for voters in her district. Senator Giessel should not run for re-election. She should end her legislative career ASAP. Senators Stedman and Bishop have no apparent interest in the long-term health of Alaska; they may be unable to see beyond personal gain and the next election right now. They supported Governor Walker much more readily than they support Governor Dunleavy, and that is entirely disappointing.

  9. The Queen is going to face her own punishment in a few months. I don’t live in her district but I’m already helping raise funds to defeat her. The woman is mad and filled with rage. She just sent a good staffer out to pasture. Giessel will get hers. Just wait.

  10. If the only way she can lead is by punishment, then she is a weak leader and she has to go. She is on the desperate path of a despot.

      • Cathy Giessel has a severe psychological disorder. She must have been a first born, with an over-dominating mother, siblings that she often bullied, and a milktoast father. Those are classic signs of a tyrannical adult female.

  11. This whole staff thing has gotten way out of control. When I worked in the State Senate back in the early ’70s before Oil $ NOBODY HAD A STAFF! Oh sure finance had a gaggle of bean counters but Legislators individually didn’t. Republicans keep talking about ” cutting the budget” but they elect people who seem astonished that they lose staffers.
    Through all of the bums out! You cannot fix it with people you keep re-electing.
    Oh, BTW, the quality of Government was vastly better without ” staffers”.
    Same miles of roads, much better ferry service and less moronic drama like this story.

  12. Here is the bigger picture – 37,500 private sector people lost their jobs in April. Only 4,000 government workers. Some companies have laid off hundreds of individuals. Some companies are closing doors permanently. Many companies are wondering every day if they will make it.

  13. They did this to Dunleavy too when he was in the senate. He couldn’t vote for their budget because it was too big and it reduced the PFD ignoring the historic formula. Sound like a familiar fight? They fired all his staff and put him in the smallest office in the basement as I recall; they wanted to make an example out of him.

    ..And those were his friends (according to MRAKs 4/7/17 article on it) that did that.. go figure. With friends like those, who needs an opposition party?

    Now those that remain I’m pretty sure arent his friends these days.. (Giessel, et al) and they can’t put him in the basement Anymore..but they are going to try and bounce him out of the mansion with a phony recall.

    “It’s like Deja Vu all over again..”—Yogi Berra

  14. With Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 13 to 7, the Senate Majority Leader is a Democrat, the Senate Minority Leader is a Democrat, and the Senate President is a RINO. Senate President Giessel rules the roost with her Binding Caucus. She strips the PFD from all Alaskans, children, adults, retirees, to continue funding her unsustainable government spending, and never does she consider a budget cut or spending cap as part of a solution to fix what is wrong in Juneau, and there is much wrong in Juneau.
    Look for your local Republican House and Senate Primary challengers and support them in our fight to return a conservative Republican voice to our state government. We need to:
    Cap the Budget,
    Repair the PFD,
    End the Binding Caucus, and
    Protect our mineral resource revenue.
    My name is Roger Holland, and I am running for Alaska State Senate District N. My opponent is Cathy Giessel. Help me end the arrogance and disrespect seen everyday in Juneau.

    • Amen! Good luck to you sir! You won’t just be helping your district, you’ll be helping to save the entire state from this corrupt cabal of tyranny!

      (Normally that might be a bit of hyperbole..sadly, in the Alaska we have before us? It’s probably an understatement..)

    • If you win and you are in the majority – you may have a chance of implementing the policies you list above. How will you accomplish the things you listed as a minority member?

    • Hello Roger, Thank you for running. Can you please explain more about your plan for balancing the budget and how you will represent the opinions of your constituents in the Senate? I live and vote in Dist 28. I see your website currently says that $500 million in cuts will lead to a balanced budget. What is the proposed PFD amount and amount of increase on the oil industry production tax where $500 million in cuts leads to a balanced state budget? From your website on 5/29 in he income tax tab: “By reducing state spending by only 500 million dollars, we can have a balanced budget, and we can do that right now, without instituting an income tax.” Thanks. I very much would like to see a link or discussion of you updated budget plan. Thank you.

    • I hope you take her seat, she has become a menace to this state and it needs to end. Good luck, Mr. Holland.

  15. We need to support those four who are truly here to help all Alaskans. This is sad indeed. And we, the people, mean nothing to Giessel and those who stand by her.

  16. Talk is cheap guys. Cathy is up for reelection this year. She has a relatively weak candidate in Roger Holland in the primary and a stealth democrat running as an indy in the general. You guys want her gone? Figure out how to elect Holland.

    As to others in both the majority and minority, there are still a few days to file for the primary.

    Want to solve this? Time to clean the political gene pool. Cheers –

    • Roger Holland moves to Alaska because his wife gets a promotion at her federal government job. Than Roger gets himself a state of Alaska job. Now Roger tells everyone he is for smaller government.

      • Quite a large red herring you are waving around there. Also, Roger Holland is no longer a state employee. What makes you think that if someone is a state employee, that they are therefore a hypocrite for finding ways to save money? That is like a CEO saying he can’t find a way to save his company money because he is paid by said company. Completely void of any semblance if logic.

  17. Where do you put information on Holland? I can’t find it, and why doesn’t the Republican Party send a list of candidates on a monthly basis to all registered Republicans? Can’t play “Gotcha” in an election unless you know who is running against who.

  18. I can’t wait for the look on Giessel’s face when the votes are tallied and she realizes we’re not nearly as dumb as she thinks we are.

    Start packing now. You’re done.

  19. I called Stedmans office got a recording and told him this 3rd generation Alaskan is sick of hearing these Nazi tactics being used on Senators that are actually working for their Constituents,,,, Bishop and Stedman being told to be the street thug heavies show their moral character which aint impressive….After reading this an actual bad taste was left in my mouth… what the hell good is representation if you have immoral leaders pulling this?

  20. Wow, I am really tired of politics. I live downtown so I know who is going to represent me. It will be a Democrat. We had 18 billion in the CBR a few years ago and somehow because the Legislature and Governor spent the money it is the citizens fault. I guess I agree, we elected these people. Now it is our job to vote out all incumbents in November. I would keep the ones that stood up to the Majority Leadership.

  21. To Mr. Trump: I sent this as a public opinion message to the Alaska State Legislature today. There are many articles about the shenanigans the people of Alaska are suffering at the hands of a few. Perhaps you would be kind enough to have the AG office, Mr. Barr, look in to this?
    “Giessel, Stedman, Bishop: I am appalled by your behaviors. You are a disgrace to all good Alaskan people. Should you be investigated by the federal gov’t for depriving Alaskans of fair representation and constitutional rights? I think so.”
    Thank you, Amy Henry

  22. Why does the State Supreme Court continue to ignore the unconstitutionality of the binding caucus rule and the theft of the pfd?

    • Has the issue of a binding caucus and legislative staff funding been brought the courts? If so, when? If not, let’s get a case!

  23. Sen Lara Reinbold is my Senator and she was also my Representive before she earned her election as a Senator. She is an outstanding person who represents her constituents and stands on her principles. She can’t be corrupted by the Dictator’s telling her how to vote. She has been disciplined before because she wouldn’t vote for the bloated budget the leadership was forcing everyone to vote for.

    It amazes me that so many do not have an understanding of how our legislators work on “our behalf”! The Senate and House write their own rules and they are all designed to keep those in positions of power in power. Less than 10 members combined control and determine what moves forward and what is passed. We would like to think that every elected member can pursue their ideas of what’s good for Alaska and their constituents. Many bills entered never see the light of day or get a hearing. If the two leaders and the rules Committee Chairman oppose the bill it’s DOA. The fourth power is the Finance Committee. The Chair and Co-Chair of this committee can determine the success of a bill and if it ever goes to the Rules Committee. Any Committee Chair can hold or kill a bill. They just fail to hold a hearing and vote on a bill or move it to the next committee without a hearing and vote. There is a way around committee chairmen but it is stacked against a legislator so success often fails.

    The number of committees any bill and type of committee the bill is referred to signals it’s chance of success or failure. One committee and the Rules Committee usually means the bill will pass, two committees and Rules means it has support and should move forward. Three Committees and Rules means it is on life support and you must convince every committee chair, what do they gain by supporting this bill and moving it to the next committee. Four or more means it is dead and only an Act of GOD ( Senate President or Speaker of the House) can make it move. Three and four committees plus rules only move if a legislator or sponsor (Governor’s office or lobbyist can trade something they want, or will get the legislator re-elected, a powerful personal friend or lobbyist that will give them a win or advantage.

    That’s why the Governor will never fulfill his promise of a PFD paid by the Statutory formulae and get Alaskans paid back the amounts withheld. He would have to trade for something the leadership of the legislature wants so bad they will give him a win.

    The PFD being withheld by Governor Walker was taken to court by Senator Bill Wilewkosizk, sp? former Senator Rick Halford and one I have forgotten. They lost the case in the Superior Court and the Supreme Court. Google PFD decisions by the AK Supreme Court. I am not a lawyer but my reading of the decision was that the Constitutional Amendment establishing the Permanent Fund was so weasel worded that the people that voted on it and the press coverage about the Amendment, never realized they gave the power to the Governor to veto the amount paid out or that the legislature could decide how much if anything would be paid to the people.

    They upheld Walker’s veto of the appropriation and the return of funds vetoed to the PFD where it could be saved even if the legislators appropriated the money for the individual PFD.

    It also ruled the legislature could follow the past practices of paying out or paying out a smaller amount or spending all the earnings with nothing for the people.

    If you want to change the legislature, it’s penalties and rewards, or ever get what you think you should from the PFD earnings elect more people like the four that stood up for their constituents and they will change the system.

    This current legislature has done little to nothing to help Alaskans during this crisis, cut the budget, or care about your welfare.

    Like the Federal Democratic Socialist in Washington many of our legislators care only for their power and salaries/per diem. They had to be forced to work for one (House) or two (Senate) days to just pass through money ? the Federal Government sent you help Alaskans. Holding the money up to hurt the Governor and make him look like he was not helping Alaskans. They are Truly non-essential employees of Alaska but controlled by their failed leadership.

    Some are worth saving but choose very carefully. Keep all of them in office and you get just what you elect. Thank God for President Trump and Governor Dunleavy.

  24. Suzanne the answer is no! Just petty power hungry dictators looking out for the self interest and positions.

    Here is the cite for the PFD case and the third former Senator was Sen Clem Tillion.

    (Link removed by moderator. Links are not permitted due to malware).

  25. Giessel is a tortured soul. Just like the Third grade school marm. Loves to punish her kiddies with a ruler when they misspell a word. Gets others to do the real punishment when she runs out of steam. Click Bishop should
    be ashamed.

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