The education of Zack Fields: Religious discrimination 101 - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, November 27, 2020
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The education of Zack Fields: Religious discrimination 101

COMMISSIONER OF ADMIN. TAKES COCKY REP. TO SCHOOL ON CONSTITUTION

House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday afternoon took up the confirmation of Commissioner of Administration Designee Kelly Tshibaka. And what seems like it would be the most prosaic of interviews quickly became drama-filled.

The commissioner sat before committee members and faced Committee Co-Chair Rep. Zack Fields, who had already told her to be ready for his questions about her religion.

Tshibaka is a Christian. But this wasn’t her first rodeo. She was ready. After all, not only had Zack Fields asked her about her religious beliefs during private conversations, when she had introduced herself to him during official rounds, other members of the Democratic caucus had also raised concerns about her Christianity.

[Read the full transcript and watch the hearing here.]

Tshibaka started her testimony with her opening statement, telling the committee that she was born and raised in Alaska on moose tongue sandwiches. She is a graduate of Steller Secondary School in Anchorage, and learned the love of numbers and accuracy from her mother, who was an auditor for ConocoPhillips. Her dad was an IBEW electrician, and she learned the importance of teamwork from him, and from him she also learned about standing up for herself when necessary.

She went through her extensive resume: Harvard Law School graduate. Former chief data officer for the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General. U.S. Department of Justice counsel. Counsel and chief investigator for the Office of Inspector General.

And then she touched on a subject that made Rep. Fields horrified: She outed him for having questioned her in private about her religious beliefs. Fields, as a former operative for the Alaska Democratic Party, is used to dishing it out, but not used to taking it.

Tshibaka told the committee how incredible it was that this had happened to her when she had spoken to Fields earlier, and how it was unconstitutional and that her religious rights as a citizen working in government had been upheld by many a Supreme Court case.

Fields was visibly shocked. His lip quivered and he denied that he had asked her about her religion, but only wanted to know if she would discriminate against those who were not Christian.

It’s not the kind of question he would have asked a Jew or a Muslim. This is the kind of discrimination that is reserved for Christians, at least in his circle of friends.

In 2015, Tshibaka was appointed chief data officer at the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, where data analytics has resulted in more than $920 million in financial impact or audit findings in 2016.

Before that she served as the Acting Inspector General of the Federal Trade Commission and in the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, where she conducted civil liberties and privacy oversight and was counsel to the Inspector General. Earlier, she was special assistant to the Department of Justice Inspector General, conducting sensitive investigations; overseeing audits, investigations, and inspections; and assisting in managing employees nationwide.

At the Postal Service, she tracked down fraud, waste, and abuse. Her data analytics team helped auditors recover $121 million in fines and restitution for fraudulent billings to the Postal Service, and avoid making more than $110 million in payments on improper billings.

Tshibaka was tapped to round out the governor’s core team of policy advisors – focusing primarily on areas of management, audit and government efficiency.

But, in spite of her remarkable resume, all that Rep. Fields wanted to know about was: Will she be able to set her religious beliefs aside when performing her duties for the State of Alaska.

In the end, Fields tabled her confirmation interview and did not allow her name to be forwarded out of committee.

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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

  • Are we gonna hear more on this BS?

      • Please do

  • If she stated that she was bisexual, atheistic, and a believer in full-birth abortion and man-caused climate change, her nomination would have sailed out of committee. This is what happens to highly credentialed nominees when uneducated, low-life wannabes like Fields are placed in charge of committees. This can all be traced back to Knopp and the RINOs who forced bi-particianship on the true thinkers in the legislature. This is what we get. Disgusting!

  • Zack attack = pure envy. This gal has the goods to out-think Zack. And she proved it. All Zack can do is hold up her nomination because he is a Democrat. The man has no brains. He’s a stooge of the Democrat Party and unaccomplished in any area that requires thinking. Zack is a joke and he had his balls handed to him by a beautiful Harvard lawyer. Go back to 9th grade, you moron.

    • Could not have said it better!

  • I don’t usually take issue with Suzanne Downing, however, based upon what we are watching in the US House, it is the kind of question which an operative like Fields would ask of a Jewish person. Other than that we would have to applaud Kelly Tshibaka for confronting someone who was challenging her First Amendment right to practice her religion.

  • If she was a Muslim she would have had a better chance. How does religion, no matter what religion, affect this job?

  • Ms. Tshibaka’s resume is spelled out, but there is no explanation of the accusations against Mr. Zack. What about Ms. Tshibaka’s Christian faith identity? How does it allegedly affect her job performance?

  • If this is truly what happened, why isn’t the House State Affairs Committee or any other body getting to the bottom of this. What does his constituents think about the guy they elected. I believe their should be much more transparency in out politics.

  • During the campaign Zack Fields in debate was asked who he supported for governor. He immediately went into a tiraide that Dunleavy was the most unqualified candidate who ever filed to run. He had to be prompted to answer the question.

  • I called Fields office and spanked him good. He took a oath to the US Constitution. Either he did not read it or just doesn’t give a damn, but he violated Kelly’s Constitutional rights under Article 6 whereby no religious test can be used in public appointments.
    I further called the Governor’s office and Dept of Administration and strongly suggested a Federal Lawsuit against Mr Fields for violating her civil liberties under Article 6 of the US Constitution!
    I also called Gabby LeDoux’s office since she went after Planned Parenthood and the LBGTXYZ crowd in the House Judiciary Committee meeting re Mr Clarkson for AG. I called on Gabby to have a come to Jesus meeting with Mr Fields about the Constitution, to bring Kelly back up to pass out of committee. If Mr Fields wants to vote no on her floor confirmation, that is up to him. I am sure he can come up with policy differences to “justify” his no vote. However, a very public spanking by a Federal Judge is in order and needed. The Democrat-Socialists are bound and determined to #Resist Governor Dunleavy and all his appointments. That is up to them and we the voters are very aware of what and why they are doing so. Sadly, we have to wait at least a year, if not two before we can regain the House, but the more actions like Mr Fields the better the chances of regaining the House.
    I call on all reading this to stand with the Governor and stand for the Constitution and hammer each and every Democrat-Socialist when they pull such a stunt!

  • I am a friend of Kelly’s from law school and one of her parishioners. I am a progressive, a Democrat, and proud of it. Even though Kelly and I do not agree on most matters of politics, I want her to get confirmed and wrote as much in my recommendation letter to the Senate. She deserves to get confirmed. These attacks are unfounded and not fair to her.

    • Democrats never play fair or honest, Alvin. You should know that as a Democrat. If you want substantial honesty and fair play, write an open letter to the ADN and state it like it is. Kelly = highly qualified. Zack = not even remotely qualified.

  • Alvin did say that in his recommendation letter… it was pretty compelling for a girl like myself. you should go read it. Also call Zack’s office and tell him to stop holding up Kelly’s nominee. This is ridiculous- Zack needs to stop acting like a child just because he got called out for trying to be a big shot and ultimately being a bully. Go read Alvin’s letter… http://www.akleg.gov/basis/get_documents.asp?session=31&docid=11303

    • Thank you Northern Light. Ted I did put my money where my mouth is. Take a look at my letter, it’s the last one in that link above. Take a look at my LinkedIn profile. It speaks for itself. We need to be able to have honest disagreements about policy and not have that turn into the type of character assasination. And yes I do plan on calling Fields’ office and sending that letter to his attention.

  • Ok, enough said, Alvin. You made your point. I’ll eat crow this time. I’m glad you put your money where your mouth is. Thank you.

  • As a Christian, I am very proud of the way Kelly Tshibaka stood up for herself and her religion. Rep Fields you should be ashamed of yourself and your constituents outraged.

  • Ms. Tshibaka is extremely qualified. It is clear the that a religious test is being unjustly applied to her confirmation. As a non-Alaskan, I can only hope that people of all faiths will see the threat to civil liberties all Americans face when such tests are allowed to persist unchallenged. We need to rise up in opposition to the politics that keep us from our best and brightest, of any background serving in government. Confirm Commissioner Tshibaka in Alaska and help us all take a step in the right direction.

  • Oh Lordy! The majority feeling offended to protect the minority! Y’all need to understand in simple English. As the head of the Administrative office, she will be in charge of making sure that minorities are hired. This has been asked by several different commissioners already. Can they do their job without religion interfering in their judgement. What was shocking is that if it wasn’t for this stunt, she was a shoe-in for the position. Quit being a bunch of whinny snowflakes when chairs are added to the table. Christians are still the majority of population at 75% so your not being attacked. Snowflakes

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