Rumors, and rumors of rumors




In a historic and unprecedented move, the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday night vetoed a gubernatorial appointment on the basis of a #metoo rumor.

The vote came after Rep. Ivy Sponholz, D-Anch., said she had concerns about Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s appointment of retired Anchorage Superior Court Judge Karl Johnstone to the state Board of Fisheries. 

“In the last 24-hours, more than two women have reached out to my office, people who worked for the Board of Fish when Johnstone was previously on the Board of Fish to share concerns about his behavior,” Sponholz said. “They each described inappropriate sexual comments, which created a hostile work environment for them repeatedly.”

The discussion didn’t go much farther before the Johnstone vote was tabled only to have the joint session of the House and Senate reconvene later to vote 33-24 against his confirmation.

“It is hurtful knowing that  my daughters will read this and have to explain,” Johnstone said today.

Rumors that sexual harassment charges might be leveled at Johnstone first circulated over the weekend. They were expected to come up when Johnstone spent hours before the House Resources Committee on Monday night. They did not.

Still, it was being whispered that former BOF member Sue Jeffrey from Kodiak had an issue with Johnstone.  Asked about the rumor today, she said, that if there was anyone with an issue “I’m absolutely not that person.”

She added that she had no knowledge of Johnstone sexually harassing anyone.

The Johnstone confirmation process was rife with anonymous or vague accusations that he harassed or threatened people, who were said to be afraid to testify as to the specifics of any incidents because they feared “retaliation” from the former judge. It was never clear how Johnstone was expected to retaliate.

Alaska fishery politics – or fishtics as they are often called – are known for being down and dirty. Commercial fishing was the state’s original big business.  Government, oil and tourism now do more to power the Alaska economy, but the fishing industry still rides through the halls of power on a golden image and swings a mean billie when it thinks that necessary.


Johnstone previously served on the Board of Fish from 2008 to 2015. The Board operates as a tiny section within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It is now down to four employees though there were once more.

For at least part of the time that Johnstone served on the BOF, at least two of the employees were women – the executive director and one of two publication specialists. The then BOF director later transferred to another job within Fish and Game. The publication specialist left and eventually became the executive director of the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA), the commercial fishing organization that is one of the state’s most influential – if not the most influential – political lobbies.

Neither woman returned phone calls today. The UFA vowed it would block Johnstone’s confirmation to the Board and lobbied hard to stop it. Johnstone had in the past backed the idea of shifting some Cook Inlet salmon harvest from commercial fishermen to personal-use and sport fishermen to meet the demands of anglers and dipnetters in the Anchorage metro area.

[Read the rest of the story at]


  1. This whole thing smells of National Democratic strategy wait until the last minute and parade anonymously acquisitions against a male appointee to derail the appointment because a big lobby doesn’t like the nominee

  2. How many women came forward? Is that >2 2, >3, 2.5? Not really sure? Just say it and it is so! Why doesn’t this make anyone on the left afraid? Zack? Adam? Do you know that you could be next? Really! You could be the next one accused like this someday. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you too.

  3. Well now the press should hunt down every woman who worked with him so we can get to the bottom of this, because now the suspicion is on all of them. Which one of them said this. Ugh this is why we only get thick skinned sociopaths in government.

  4. He, Johnston, should sue for defamation of character and then some. Loss of ….a lot. Then find out who it is and remember that the road of truth goes both ways!! Maybe it is time the women who do the accusing are put on the line and exposed and sued. I bet their reputations in the F & G are not pearly white if they hide and run and lie.

    • Sadly Diana, he can’t sue Ivy. She is protected on anything she says on the floor! Got that from David Eastman!

      • False. If she besmirches the integrity or defames the good reputation of a person, viciously and with intent to harm, she CAN be held accountable in a civil action. These kinds of civil cases can always be tested. POISON IVY is not protected like she thinks she is. She’s a fool. I hope she gets personally sued……for tons of payout from her own pocket.

        • Johnstone is a public figure and the burden of proving libel against a public figure is essentially insurmountable. You have to prove that the allegation is false and that she knew it was false, all but impossible to prove unless she planned it with someone and you can get their testimony or some other type of evidence to prove her knowledge of falsity.

          • Johnstone would be aware of his burden of proof needed and thus may be reluctant to spend his own money on such a lawsuit.
            However all those outraged on here could certainly pony up parts of their larger PFDs to encourage him here. Heheh!

  5. Remember senator Wilson, when he tried to clear his name he was reprimanded for retaliation. Turns out he was indeed innocent!!

  6. My perception is that we may have crossed a threshold here – that the warfare on the anonymous “me too” allegations may now broaden very significantly. We may now see that anonymous complaints will be made against Democrats, may include complaints against women by men and even other women; who knows if there are any limits. The truth is no longer a limitation. All complaints, even anonymous complaints, must now take on a aura of authenticity, shouldn’t they? If Representative Sponholtz can engage in this conduct without consequences, others will feel similarly emboldened. This is going to get much worse before it gets better.

    • Your thinking we may have crossed a threshold here is a bit late, JMARK. Almost exactly one year ago the former Juneau Rep. Justin Parish was accused of unusual behavior towards a woman reporter (anonymously) and it ended up as Parish not running for re-election.
      I’m sure you were just as upset then, as now. But don’t let that diminish your outrage, here. Heheh!

      • Kinda different here, Mr. Bill, where the anonymous allegation was channeled through a Legislator, with a speech-and-debate immunity, just SECONDS before a vote. Wouldn’t you say? Ex-Rep. Parish probably had multiple opportunities and means to respond to allegations and otherwise seek an airing of the facts of the allegations against him. Fairness is the concern and due process of law is the measuring stick.

        • Granted it was not a confirmation process but clearly was a political hit-job that resulted in what was intended. Fairness is also not the concern as you can certainly look back at this issue and see your name missing from those wanting any sort of due process or fairness.
          Politics is politics and often the end justifies the means. Johnstone could certainly file suit against whomever is responsible here but I wouldn’t hold my breath for this.
          Just move on.

          • Talk about a low bar: “Politics is politics and often the end justifies the means.” I will let you explain that sentence to your family and friends. It is clear that you and I have very little in common.

          • JMARK, I am a former commercial fisherman and had no problems with Johnstone, based on his former performance on the Board. That said, I also know that the long knives were out for him by many other fishermen. This article made that pretty clear and the confirmation process is plain politics with few not being confirmed-it takes some real issues in almost all cases and a look at how many of those up for a vote were confirmed means that there were serious issues with this individual. You don’t like the result but your outrage is pure politics, as I’ve pointed out your being missing in action when the shoe was on the other foot.
            I believe you are correct about you and I having nothing in common but so what? This issue is settled and I’ll sleep well-you will gnash your teeth and bitch and whine for a political process that your team lost. Tough noogies!

        • JMARK, Mr. Yankee just can’t seem to get off the Justin Parish thing. I notice down in the skinny column he is telling you to drop it. I told him to drop it somewhere too. He just can’t let go! It isn’t a comparable issue and he’ll never see that. He’s a troll.

  7. The SCJ kavanaugh’s mess on a smaller, Alaskan scale. Commercial interests grasping at any straws available to block Johnstone’s confirmation.

    • The left will keep doing this stuff as long as it works, and it will work as long as feckless Republicans run screaming from the room at the first sign of conflict or controversy. The State Government isn’t the Rotary Club!

      • I’m afraid you’re right Art. People have to stand up to these people with the double middle salute. There are no debates on issues. They have zero legit arguments on anything so it’s “racist” or “sexist” or “misogynist” or “molester”, or….. whatever the packaged narrative of the day is. If you say you disagree with them on the condition of the day’s weather, you’re somehow “racist” and against the adoption rights of gay little people. Then, “we” get frustrated, toss our hands up, give up, they “win” something.

  8. Anyone with a father, brother, male cousin or son should be cringing these days as is becomes more and more acceptable to ruin lives with unsubstantiated blathering about hurt feelings or misread signals. I’m not saying that Johnstone is blameless but do insist that he is entitled to face his accusers in some fashion before slamming him publicly. I’m a female with a long track record in this particular arena but have heard way too many shady stories over the years to take this at anything but face value. The very most that should be said about this until those two women make themselves know is simple. Behave yourself Mr. Johnstone and learn from past mistakes. Now lets move on with an eye to the business at hand. Doi.

  9. This all stems from the loss of one of our most fundamental rights, “Innocent until proven guilty”.

  10. To Mike C ….I was talking of the women who want to remain secret. They, more than likely have used their positions to get ahead before Johnston. For them, they need to disclose behind closed doors. Think of what their spouses would say? Or have they been “fishing off the company pier” in prior encounters? Probably so…No angels there. And even in government..the accuser has to be careful.. In the federal government, if you spread are held accountable and can lose your job. Hope this happens here.

    • Say it ain’t so! There are women in and around government that use flirtation and sex in trade for power and position? Who da’ thought it?

      In my time with the State I saw hundreds of allegations of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, or hostile environment. Maybe one in three had even facial validity and most of them stemmed from consensual relations gone bad or from women trying to be “one of the boys” and out misbehaving the boys then having second thoughts. That was especially a problem with women entering traditionally male dominated jobs.

      I could count on the fingers of one hand the incidents of true quid pro quo sexual harassment I saw. Juneau being Juneau, I knew of plenty of relationships that could have been quid pro quo, but she got the job, so all lived happily ever after, or at least until the divorce in which she took him for all she could get.

      The last one I dealt with before I retired came to us as a back channel referral from the State Troopers. They had investigated a allegation of a rape on one of our vessels, but found the story too squishy to move towards prosecution on. They thought that there was something to it though and suggested we look into it administratively. Well if the Troopers felt hinky about it, so did I. I assigned two of my female staffers to go interview the male who had made the complaint to the Troopers and the female who was the alleged victim. I instructed them to give the two as little notice as possible of the interview and to interview them separately. It didn’t take long for the rape she’d told her boyfriend about to become a lot of drunken partying and sex in the crew quarters. We wound up suspending or firing so many of that crew that we had trouble manning it for the next voyage. We named that one “The Love Boat Case.”

  11. Ivy, Put up or shut up! I have known Karl Johnstone for over 40 years and have never heard of a single sexual harrasment complaint. Prove it up or RESIGN!

  12. Karl Johnstone is smart, reasoned, and has given much to our state over the past 40 years. I’m saddened that such a fine person can be presumed guilty of something…anything, without knowing who made the accusations or even what they were.
    I’m proud to say Karl Johnstone is a long-time friend of mine. For his daughters, I want to add my voice to all those who know what a good and decent person their father is.

    Rick Mystrom

    • I AGREE with Rick, keep in mind also that when she came to our neighborhood meetings she would say ” I dont see anything wrong with SB91 ” . she would frown on all of our questions as criminals ran thru our yards . the method of the left seems to be – whoever accuses first wins- sick –

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