Sense of the House: Majority cedes moral high ground



All heck broke out on the House floor today, after Rep. Ben Carpenter moved a “Sense of the House” vote to condemn the actions of legislators who trashed the reputations of citizen volunteers last week.

But Speaker Bryce Edgmon, leader of the Democrat-led House majority, would not allow the item to be heard or voted on, and attempted to bury it in the Community and Regional Affairs Committee without discussion.

[Read: Spohnholz attacks character of Johnstone — again]

The Sense of the House read:

“That on April 17, 2019, during Joint Legislative Session confirmation proceedings, unsubstantiated accusations made by certain members of the House defamed the personal character of several volunteer nominees on the floor of the House of Representatives. The members’ actions deprived Alaskans of due process and any opportunity to offer a defense of their character and were an abuse of the privilege of legislative immunity. Therefore, these members’ actions are hereby condemned as having undermined the dignity of the Legislature and resulted in a breach of trust with the people of the State of Alaska that must be restored.

Carpenter objected to the paragraph being sent to committee, saying that a Sense of the House is a formal determination of how the entire body feels through a freestanding simple yes or no vote.

Edgmon was having none of it.

“I’m going to allow one more comment on this, so you choose, Mr. Minority Leader,” Edgmon said to Rep. Lance Pruitt.

But no further comments were allowed by Edgmon. After a lengthy at-ease while Carpenter argued his case to Edgmon, House Majority Leader Steve Thompson, a Fairbanks Republican, moved to adjourn.

The Democrat-led majority, with the eight Republicans in it, voted for the abrupt adjournment, leaving the Sense of the House in committee a led by the hardest-left Democrat, Juneau Rep. Sara Hannan.

The House meltdown came over a week after Rep. Ivy Spohnholz accused a citizen volunteer, Karl Johnstone, of sexual harassment. Her claims came from anonymous “more than two women” and were delivered moments before the vote on Johnstone’s confirmation to the Board of Fisheries, denying the retired judge any ability to defend himself.

[Read: What Spohnholz did to me, she can do to anyone]

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz was the subject of the “Sense of the House” for her actions last week against an Alaska citizen. But her colleagues denied the vote from being heard.

Spohnholz is in a strong position to prevail in her behavior because eight Republicans joined the Democrat-led House majority earlier this year and all of them stuck with her today.

In 2017, Spohnholz led a move to censure Republican David Eastman, and it was approved by a vote of 24-14 by the Democrat-led House. The censure motion was a response to comments from Rep. Eastman claiming that some women in rural areas get pregnant so they can get a free trip to an urban center for an abortion and whatever other business they want to take care of. Edgmon allowed that vote to proceed, unlike today, when he would not allow a similar courtesy to the Republican minority.

It’s possible that Carpenter or others in the Republican minority will now move to formally censure Spohnholz, since Carpenter’s effort to get a Sense of the House has been foiled.

That will again put the Republican turncoats on record supporting Rep. Spohnholz, whose actions were so serious that they even elicited a letter from the governor to Johnstone, apologizing about his constitutional rights being violated by Spohnholz and her allies in the Legislature.

[Read: Letter from the governor]


  1. Our first POTUS had a really jaded view of political parties as a whole…as it seems he understood the nature of these folks and the vileness of their character …

    . . .”Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

    . . . The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

    It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.

    . . . There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”

    George Washington’s Farewell speech…


  2. Is Tammie Wilson really siding with the Democrats on this issue? If so, her turn to the left is utterly shocking. Her integrity is all on the line just for a position as co-Chair of Finance Committee. Disgusting! No other word to describe her.

  3. My sense of the house is that it is run by a bunch of slimeballs who have lost the consent to govern.

  4. We have Republican (in name only) Gary Knopp of Kenai to thank for this awful mess… He single-handedly torpedoed two votes to confirm a Republican majority in the House.

    Gotta hand it to the Democrats… they singled out the weak and timid in the Republican herd, isolated him… and then tricked his feeble mind.

    • Grizzly, how true about Democrats targeting the weak. Wilson, who twiddled her thumbs in the Minority during the previous two years was fed bait by the Democrats. They gave her Finance co-Chair (Capital Budget only). Ha. What Capital Budget?
      Wilson took the bait in order to gain an appearance of power for herself. Another outspoken idiot. Wilson will be through in 2020. It will be like a kick in the gut for Tammie Wilson. North Pole Republicans are on the phone now.

  5. Representative Carpenter is doing the job all our elected representatives should be doing. I’m not surprised that the House “leadership” is continuing to do what they do, the leadership in place is beyond horrible and approaches atrocious.

    • For economic reasons an appointee of this Gov. gets thrown under the bus by a bipartisan group of Legislators and folks here are clutching their pearls in an attempt to make it partisan. Perhaps some of these Legislators read their constituents wrong and are now feeling some heat (Carpenter is conspicuous here)?
      And I’m sure the leadership hasn’t slept a wink since your (they’re) “beyond horrible and approaches atrocious.”

      • Bill,

        That’s all certainly possible. More probable (based upon his actions so far during this session) is that Representative Carpenter actually knows the role of government and the constraints placed upon it by our Constitution.

        I don’t concern myself with how the House leadership sleeps, although I’m sure with how they carry themselves they don’t care what anyone says because they are just useful idiots carrying the water for their chosen cause(s)

  6. Get rid of Knopp and Wilson. Both a couple a Liberals in the closet who screwed-up this entire legislative session and let a bunch of leftist Democrats run the show. Just shameful. Edgmon is a bafoon with extremely low IQ. Poison Ivy is the man-hater of the year. Another low IQ legislator.

  7. Suzanne,
    You wrote:
    “…apologizing about his constitutional rights being violated by Spohnholz and her allies in the Legislature.”

    I do not believe anyone’s “Constitutional Rights” were violated.
    The supreme court has ruled “Reputation” is not protected under the due process clause and that “life , liberty or property” must be involved.
    “…the Supreme Court adopted a more literal interpretation and requires individuals to show that the interest in question is either their life, their liberty, or their property–if the interest doesn’t fall into one of those three boxes, no matter how important it is, it doesn’t qualify for constitutional protection.”
    “Thus, for example, the Court has ruled that the government may  severely damage an individual’s reputation (by, for example, putting his name on a list of “known shoplifters”) without affording process.”

    • Steve,

      Take it up with Ivy, even she knows she done wrong. Just listen to the person you are alone in defending when she said “there are some legitimate concerns about due process that have been raised…I share those concerns. I think that we need to make sure that we don’t have a system where people can be accused of anything without the opportunity to address them.”

      You need to keep reading about due process, don’t stop at the first link that pops up on google. And comparing shoplifting and anonymous claims of sexual harassment, really? When people do what you’ve just done you discount the seriousness of sexual harassment.

      • Steve O…
        My comment was not to defend Ivy, but to argue that NO constitutional rights were “violated” by the Legislature’s actions in voting down Karl’s nomination without further hearings.
        There are several famous case precedents that deal with this very topic of “due process” and Reputation in government proceedings…
        The supreme court has settled this issue and your reputation is NOT afforded constitutional rights.
        This is a black and white issue and not a partisan affair.
        The first major case was Paul v. Davis in 1976 and a subsequent ruling affirmed this decision in Siegert v. Gilley.

  8. Steve, please cite a case that explicitly states “reputation” is excluded as a constitutional right. Procedural due process is what the Poison Ivy issue is all about. “The opportunity to be heard.” When the Legislature ambushes a qualified candidate in a hearing, and levies hearsay charges against the candidate without an opportunity to respond, THAT is the constitutional violation. Reputation damage is the resulting harm. The judge should have made a run against the legislature and at the very least, as Suzanne stated, forced a discussion of censure against the poison one. The judge, if he had a stomach for all of this crap, could have given the entire Legislature a courtroom scolding for their lack of demeanor, decorum and intelligence.

    • Marla,
      “Since the Supreme Court’s 1976 decision in Paul v. Davis, it has been black letter law that reputational harm, standing alone, is insufficient to trigger a constitutional right to procedural due process.
      1 As a result, the state may act in a way that damages an individual’s public standing without first offering the individual a hearing or other opportunity to contest the state’s charge of wrongdoing. Only if some more tangible loss (e.g., concurrent loss of government employment) accompanies state-caused stigmatic harm does a constitutional right to procedural due process arise.
      2 Critical commentary on the Paul decision, and the “stigma-plus” doctrine it spawned, was immediate, extensive, and scathing.
      3 Yet the Supreme Court expressly affirmed its holding and extended the stigma-plus doctrine in a subsequent case, Siegert v. Gilley.”

      Quoted from: Procedural Due Process and Reputational Harm: Liberty as Self-Invention
      By Eric J. Mitnick

  9. Glad to see somebody is finally doing something about the “rape culture” Governor Dunleavy was waxing eloquent on for Denim Day. I’ve heard that one of the things we need to do to combat “rape culture” is believe women. Well, here you go.

  10. This will be a lot of fun, as once you bury the resolution in committee, there will most surely be a follow-on discharge petition / vote which will in turn keep the pressure on the leadership. Carpenter is doing an excellent job here. Cheers –

  11. You nailed it about Steve Thompson. He wants to adjourn back to his watering hole at the Elks.

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