Rep. Geran Tarr took to social media on Wednesday to describe to her friends and constituents the bullying tactics used by members of her own caucus and the Alaska Democratic Party. Her post shows just how involved the party is in trying to make legislators vote certain ways. It’s a 180-degree difference from the Alaska Republican Party, which works to elect lawmakers and then hopes for the best.
Tarr described at length how she had been bullied by Rep. Zack Fields and leftist blogger Jeff Landfield. The two men were part of a leg-wrestling, pingpong and beer party in the Capitol complex this winter while the Capitol was closed to the public.
Tarr on Wednesday said that she would not, in fact, be accepting per diem for special session, just as she did not in 2019. She has issues with the way the Legislative Council has interpreted statute, which says no per diem can be awarded if the budget has not passed. The council has decided that after the budget is passed, all the back-pay per diem can then be paid, and Tarr believes this is flouting the law.
But more to the point, she explained how Democrats have bullied her, including The Alaska Center for the Environment, a political group that she had formerly considered a friend; Tarr is a hard-left environmentalist with values in line with the Alaska Center for the Environment, a surrogate group for the Alaska Democratic Party.
“When I wouldn’t join a caucus this year because the very dysfunctionality you’re seeing right now and the unwillingness of some of my colleagues to compromise, my colleague Rep. Zach Fields, made up a story that I was upset about a committee chair position. This is a position I had previously suggested a Republican for in an effort to get the legislature organized,” Tarr explained.
“First, he tried to get at least two colleagues to call people who had supported me in an effort to put pressure on me. I’m grateful that those two colleagues said no to that kind of nonsense.
“Then, since that wasn’t low enough, he called the Alaska Democratic Party, a union leader, and a prominent Democratic leader to put pressure on me. This was pretty disappointing as I felt they did put pressure on me and didn’t even ask me what the real story was.
“Then, since that wasn’t low enough, he tried to make it about race, and called the NAACP, the Alaska Black Caucus, and some neighbors. This was a mixed bag as some believed his made up story, but neighbors knew immediately it was nonsense,” Tarr wrote.
The Alaska Black Caucus was just awarded $1.1 million by the Anchorage Assembly to do this kind of work.
“Then, since that wasn’t low enough, he got The Alaska Center to start a phone bank into our district and continue to spread the made up story. This was extremely disappointing as this is an organization where I’ve known the executive director for over 20 years and have worked with closely in my legislative work. I didn’t even get a courtesy call to see if the story he was circulating was true, they just started making calls,” Tarr continued.
“The outcome here was something that lifted my spirits in a way I can hardly describe. Every conversation I had with neighbors included things like we trust you, we know you’re working hard for our area, we know you’re doing the right thing, and you go girl. My relationships with you are important to me and are ones where I’ve worked hard to build trust and the trust you placed in me was an incredible feeling.
“Then, Jeff Landfield, never to be outdone in the category of misogynistic behavior, wrote a blog post spreading the lie and calling me racist. This was very upsetting, not because he said things about me, he always does that, but because my brand new colleague and the Chair of the Committee being referenced was now involved in this nonsense. Instead of just being able to celebrate his accomplishment as a new legislator, now he was swept up in something that wasn’t even true. This was really upsetting to me and I shared that with Speaker Stutes. Her idea was to call Jeff into her office so I could tell the truth and she thought he would issue a retraction or an apology. I never believed he would do that, but the fact that she was willing to stand up for me was something that had never happened before so I took her up on the opportunity. The three of us sat in the Speaker’s office where both she and I explained this had nothing to do with a committee chair and everything to do with me trying to create a more functioning legislature. I wasn’t surprised at all when his response was that he wouldn’t be issuing a retraction or an apology because he said he had tried to call my office the day it happened and since he didn’t hear back for me he felt comfortable with what he wrote. I was so grateful my colleague accepted my apology for this nonsense and even more grateful later when he let me write him a letter of recommendation for a training opportunity. I would suggest this is one of the reasons that reading the blogs is not a good use of your time.”