Sen. Shower offers bills to end binding caucuses - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, April 5, 2020
HomePoliticsSen. Shower offers bills to end binding caucuses

Sen. Shower offers bills to end binding caucuses

Sen. Mike Shower of Wasilla offered two bills on Wednesday, both which would end the binding caucus system in the Legislature.

Shower, who along with other conservative senators was stripped of his committee and staff by his fellow Republicans because of their votes on certain caucus priorities in 2019, has offered Senate Joint Resolution 17 and SB 187.

SJR 17 would prohibit a political caucus in the Legislature from compelling its members to vote for or against a bill, appointment, veto, or other measure. It would be a constitutional amendment to be voted on by Alaskans at the next general election. It was referred to three committees – State Affairs, Judiciary, and Finance.

SB 187 would put the same language into statute. The bill was referred to State Affairs and Judiciary. The bill was referred to State Affairs and Judiciary committees.

[Read: Sen. Shower stripped of staff by Senate leadership]

WHAT IS A BINDING CAUCUS?

The party caucus is a voting bloc called together by party leaders to discuss strategy and positions. Decisions made by caucuses can be binding or nonbinding on members. The party caucuses are not open to the public, and no formal record is kept of their proceedings. They are considered deliberative strategy sessions. Members of the majority caucus are rewarded with larger offices and better positions on committees.

For many years in the Alaska Legislature, the Republican caucus has had a rule that binds members to voting on the budget as a group, regardless of their individual differences on the budget.

Shower cited the Air Force Honor Code and a Colorado constitutional amendment that prohibited the long-standing binding caucus in that state. He said that the caucus rules may not be actual bribery but have the same coercive effect.

              
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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

  • I just love that Shower had no problem until he couldn’t own up to his own shortcomings. He bathed in the extra office and staff but now thinks it’s high time to end the process. This used to be referred to as CS.

    • Ok: you small thinking totalitarian

      • For Pete’s sake Harold, Shower played along with this program until he ran into his own problems with being re-elected. Now he is again it. Tough noogies!

        • You are either miss-informed or delusional. Your comments are amiss, completely.

          • Next you’ll be telling us that Shower did not collect his perks for joining that caucus and signing on to its rules Andrew. Pretty clear who is miss-informed or delusional here. Tough noogies to you, too!

    • I just love how Shower had the gall to stand up for his constituents and his own beliefs. The fact that he was punished for doing so speaks volumes about how he chooses to serve those who voted for him, he was elected into office with almost 75% of the vote. It also speaks volumes about the caucus system that kicked him out and their regard for democracy and the Alaskan voter.
      .
      Only a pure ideological partisan would support the current caucus structure that has infected our legislature.

      • Shower saw that he was not going to be re-elected if he went against them so he caved on his caucus commitment. Job one is always to be re-elected, not standing up for his constituents.
        And he thought the nice office and extra staff was just great until it wasn’t. Now he wants to change the rules because he was shown up as someone who couldn’t stand by his own commitments.
        He can certainly attempt to change the rules but he will need to get it passed and only he and the other two amigos feel it’s infected our legislature. It matters not to me whether/not this caucus structure is used but I can’t put up with cry babies who go along with something when it suits them and who run for Mama when it doesn’t. Shower is a CS.

        • Trump four more years
          Tough boogies to you

    • Good job carp, still up to your same old garbage I see.

    • Actually, he has always had a problem with the binding caucus. When he was appointed and confirmed to replace Dunleavy he did not join the binding caucus. He only joined the caucus this time because it was a modified binding caucus. That was until the rules were changed without all members of the caucus agreeing. This is not about Senator Shower, it is about a system of rules that disenfranchises thousands of voters.

      • Todd, you haven’t said whether/not Shower agreed to the changes to rules (only that all members didn’t agree). If what you say is true, the fact remains that Shower went along with it until it became a problem and he is now again it.
        No problem as long as he had his perks-you can attempt to paint this as disenfranchising voters but the fact remains that Shower knew what he was doing and only after he lost his perks has he hollered “not fair.” The real problem is now for Shower’s constituents who were let down by him losing his standing-that was completely his doing knowing full well he would be punished.

    • Bill, hope you are feeling better.

  • It is fascinating that folks who take issue with Unions and being forced to pay dues to work have zero problem when the same bully tactics are used for caucusing. Compelling legislators to vote with the bloc instead of on behalf of their districts is contrary to the intent of a representative democracy. A legislator shouldn’t be pressured to prioritize the caucus over constituents.

    • MJ, but you would be in favor of such treatment right up until your legislator is having a problem with his commitment. Just as Shower thought highly of his nice office and extra staff and committee assignments allowed by his caucus because he signed on to their tactics-then because he felt he wouldn’t be re-elected by showing up to vote on a budget his constituents didn’t like he suddenly thinks the caucus system shouldn’t be allowed in the future.
      Remember here that Shower was just fine with this system, as long as it suited him, but he suddenly got religion when it went against him.
      There is a term for this-hypocrisy-the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

      • Mike Shower has never been in favor of the caucus system. I can’t believe you are making up information out of nothing. That he was “fine with the system as long as it suited him” or that he changed when “it went against him” is flat out lying. You must be a democrat–only people I know who feel if they lie enough or long enough something will become truth. Sorry to be so partisan on this site but good grief! Are you just here to be a gadfly?

        • Well Gretchen, you’ll need to show us where Shower gave up his perks because was opposed to the caucus system. That’s all this is about-Mike Shower losing his perks and then gets religion.
          I’m here to point out where some are willing to distort the facts to push an agenda. We aren’t talking about someone being in favor of a system-just someone willing to go along with the system as long as it suits them. When it becomes a political problem for them they holler “uncle.”
          By the way, I’m not a democrat either.

  • About freaking time. I have never heard of this man but this behind closed doors, vote as I say shenanigans is over!!! I am definitely going to research what else Mr. Shower believes in and has been working on.

  • Great move in my opinion!

    Legislators are elected to go to Juneau and should vote their conscious and vote for what is best for all Alaska as well as what is best for their constituents. Everyone should be able to vote without threat of punishment for not voting with the group in control at the time.. I never liked this” togetherness” style of vote with us or you will be punished. Really?

  • Go Showers go!! Get it done!!!

  • Wiping out this corruption from our Gov’t is essential. The Binding Caucus Rule has not served us well at all. How could it ? But just proposing the fix does not mean it will even get to a vote on the Floor, since it is currently a requirement from those who serve to get their committee assignments.

  • Why a bill? Unfair and illegal representation. No legislator should have more or less ability to represent his/herdistrict. This is. Lawsuit material.

  • Good luck Mike,
    This is definitely a step in the right direction!

  • You go Sir!! hope you can get it done

  • I care not a wit what Senator Shower’s motivations are. You all who are concerned about his changing his opinions about this are totally missing the point. Making binding caucus illegal on both sides of the isle is just good for Alaska.

    • What about it is good for Alaska LA?
      You may have a point here but didn’t finish by giving a single reason why. And particularly why now?

      • A majority caucus in the legislature is a good thing. It encourages working together to come up with solutions and compromising with other members in order to pass legislation. However, when you mandate that all members vote as a block you shortcut the process. The first problem with this is that power gets consolidated in the hands of fewer people. It makes it easier to get legislation passed of course, however it results in legislation that represents the will of fewer Alaskans. Simple common sense tells anyone that requiring members to vote against their conscience or contrary to the wishes of the legislator’s constituents is morally gross. This practice is currently illegal in several states because of this and should be illegal in Alaska as well.

        • And you came to this conclusion after Shower lost his perks-Where were you prior to this? I find this incredibly suspect that it’s only coming to light since Shower’s problems even though you don’t care “a wit what Shower’s motivations are.”
          Sorry, but your explanations don’t pass any smell test.

          • Yes, as a matter of fact I did come to these conclusions after the treatment of Senator Showers came to light. I honestly wasn’t even aware that this binding caucus rule was even a thing before this. But so what, Bill? I don’t comprehend why this matters? You again are maligning people’s motivation’s instead of discussing the actual issue. It would be quite interesting to hear just exactly what you think this “smells” of?

          • Thanks for your honesty LA. If you didn’t know about this binding caucus, how could you not have wondered about the issues with other pols losing their perks for doing similar things? Several have been stripped of their perks in this Legislature alone and you are only now aware of it. This smells like your agenda is only with Shower-what is your relationship to him? Heheh!

      • I cannot believe you’re asking this question Bill……. What do you mean “what is good about it for Alaska” ? Tell me what is good about any Senator, ever having to vote a certain way to keep an office or keep a position on a committee? The ONLY WAY to vote for Alaskans is to vote the way the people of AK ask you to. No Senator should ever vote to be in the “Cool Kids Club” and that is exactly what the binding caucus does. And why now? Have you seen what’s happening with the votes?

  • where was the outrage when the GOP cancelled their presidential primary?

  • The binding caucus needs to cease, this type of political bullying / blackmailing is pathetic and quiets what / why the people voted in their person. We are the only state left w this archaic practice. This supports special interests. Anyone who opposes ceasing this practice ~ well #followthemoney #blackmail101 #patheticpolicticalpracticw

  • What is my relationship with Showers? I’ve never met the man. Again I ask, so what if I had? You again trying to avoid talking about the merits of the issue. What are you even bringing to the table on this conversation by attacking people’s motivation’s rather than the substance of the question?

    • The merits of the issue are something entirely different-that’s up to Legislature certainly and it’s worked quite well, until Mike found himself on the outside without his perks and hollering about it. I suspect his constituents are pissed that he gave up his control on issues that may have been able to help them-that is mere speculation on my part but if my rep. did such I would surely give him/her a what for.
      Like I said his motivations were different when he was collecting the perks and he suddenly gets religion when he gets the short straw, by his own doing. I can’t feel sorry for him, as you seem to, but this Legislature will possibly debate the issue and you and I will not be involved. Just my opinion.

  • Senator Shower, the time seems right for a lawsuit challenging the constitutional authority of Senate “leadership” to enforce policy which effectively thwarts the will of constituents by coercing their elected representatives to vote against the will of their constituents
    .
    …and for a bill enacting the state equivalent of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
    .
    Many states have such a law modeled on the federal RICO Act. Notably, Alaska is not one of them.
    .
    If you and like-minded colleagues are serious about slowing the spread of what looks too much like a blatant klepto-dictatorship among Alaska’s lobbyist-legislator team, a state-level RICO Act may be the only recourse.
    .
    May we also recommend “The Bloomberg-Ellison Corruption Connection”, specifically:
    .
    “It came to light last year that a handful of rich left-wing donors led by Michael Bloomberg collaborated with New York University Law School to recruit, place and pay for lawyers in attorney generals’ offices around the United States. These lawyers, compensated outside the executive structure of state government, are embedded in state governments to pursue lawsuits that fit Bloomberg’s liberal agenda. In particular, they are directed to bring lawsuits against oil companies and others based on “climate change.” Bloomberg’s scheme is corrupt, poses inevitable conflicts of interest, and in some states is illegal.”
    (powerlineblog.com/archives/2019/08/the-bloomberg-ellison-corruption-connection.php)
    .
    Here’s an opportunity to “offer” a bill forbidding, with appropriate penalties, state-employed lawyers from receiving compensation outside the executive structure of state government.
    .
    Thank you and good luck.

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