Video shocker: Sen. Jesse Kiehl aligns with George Soros, Arabella Advisors, New Venture Fund in trying to take down Alaska’s economy

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Sen. Jesse Kiehl attacks Randy Ruaro of AIDEA during Senate Finance Committee.

At a Alaska Senate Finance Committee hearing last week, the committee gave SalmonState, an Outside group funded by dark money, 40 minutes to present a report that pushed the narrative that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) should be defunded.

The report was made by two hired guns contracted by SalmonState — longtime political operatives Milt Barker and Gregg Erickson. They said AIDEA has nothing to show for itself. Committee members Sen. Lyman Hoffman and Donny Olson attacked AIDEA for its support of the Ambler Access Project, which would provide a road to the proposed Ambler Mine.

Randy Ruaro, executive director of AIDEA, was given just a few minutes to respond, and talked briefly about the mathematical, wrong assumptions, and other flaws of the SalmonState report.

For instance, SalmonState said Alaskans and Alaskan family businesses that AIDEA supports through its loan program “are a waste.” It’s a characterization that Ruaro disputed.

That’s when Juneau Sen. Jesse Kiehl pounced. He found something in the packet of materials AIDEA had provided that he felt was offensive. It as an opinion written by Ruaro that pointed out that Salmon State is funded by the dark money group Arabella Advisors through its New Venture Fund.

Sen. Kiehl said that by mentioning “George Soros and other elites”, Ruaro had used a “dog whistle” to refer to someone that “not one at this table would be seen with. So I will ask as this as as I can what in the name of heaven is that doing in your materials?”

“Dog whistle” is a dog whistle for antisemitism, in this usage. Kiehl went on to explain that his daughter is a student at Columbia University and he pointed out that she is a Jewish student at that, something that had nothing to do with the economic development agency. He brought up campus protests and said using terms like “Soros” makes him afraid for his daughter’s safety.

Ruaro, it turns out, is part Jewish from his paternal grandmother, who was a Russian Jew.

Watch the attack on Ruaro here:

Ruaro responded that the point of the editorial being included in the senators’ packet was to show how Arabella Advisors operates and how it funded the inaccurate report that Erickson and Barker had just made. Arabella was under investigation for abusing its nonprofit status but was cleared by the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice in April.

Ruaro said the purpose of the op-ed was to show how Alaska is continually attacked by Outside groups.

As it appeared in Must Read Alaska, the op-ed said in part:

“Research by AIDEA and others shines a light on Arabella Advisors and its many tentacles as a key player in the world of dark money politics. Connections between Arabella Advisors and influential funds, such as the ‘New Venture Fund,’ and groups like ‘Salmon State’ raise serious questions about the extent of their influence and motives.

“Recent reports highlight the influence of foreign billionaires, their donations, and murky financial dealings orchestrated by Arabella Advisors and its ‘New Venture Fund.’

“For example, here in Alaska, Salmon State is funded in part by the New Venture Fund with donors such as George Soros and Swiss billionaire, Hansjörg Wyss. The largest foundations in the world are using this dark money lobbying network to influence policy in Alaska.”

Read Ruaro’s entire op-ed here to see what Kiehl was objecting to:

This is going back to the “It’s a trope!” well for the Juneau senator. Kiehl, when he was running for the Senate to represent Juneau in 2018, used the “dog whistle” argument. He and his campaign accused the Capital City Republican Women of anti-semitism for opposing his candidacy with a mailer that said, “If you give Jesse Kiehl your vote, you may as well give him your wallet.” His campaign accused the women of using red and black as colors in the mailer, which his supporters said shows they are antisemitic. Public radio KTOO legitimized his points with full coverage.

Front side of a mailer by Republicans against Kiehl in 2018, which his campaign said was anti-semitic. KTOO had darkened the color on the hands to make them look blood-red in their report about the mailer.

The 907 Initiative, a separate but equally dark money group funded by subsets of the Arabella Advisors network, is also running a campaign against AIDEA, calling the board members “losers.” In the attack ad, the 907 Initiative calls AIDEA “Losers,” and the group has cartoonishly marked up the faces of Alaskans who are serving on the AIDEA board to make them look like devils, demons, pirates, and clowns.

A campaign by the 907 Initiative against AIDEA includes this image of some of the board members of AIDEA.

907 Initiative is the same as its sister group, 907 Action, a political entity that is attacking Mayor Dave Bronson and supporting the campaign for mayor of Suzanne LaFrance. The group also attacks Gov. Mike Dunleavy and other Republicans.

Part of the strategy of SalmonState (Arabella Advisors) and 907 Initiative (also Arabella Advisors), is to cut AIDEA off at the knees before another possible Trump presidency.

Donald Trump is polling strongly in swing states and looks to be a real threat to the no-development-ever Biden Administration. It’s likely that a Trump Administration would look at the Ambler Mine at least somewhat more favorably because it would bring jobs to a rural part of the state that has few jobs, and would provide valuable minerals needed for everything from cell phones to national security.

907 Initiative’s campaign against AIDEA on the day of the hearing included an ad at the top of the Anchorage Daily News.

On the same day of the hearing last week, the 907 Initiative ran a banner ad in the Anchorage Daily News, calling for the defunding of AIDEA. It appears the 907 Initiative and SalmonState are coordinating their attacks on AIDEA.

The attack on AIDEA also comes at a time when Alaska Senate Democrats would love to get their hands on AIDEA’s budget and are eager to divvy it up amongst their districts for their own pet projects.

Ruaro said “It’s a war on Alaska. They’re trying to stop Alaskans from having good-paying jobs in development and disrespecting all the Alaska families that have gotten loans to start their businesses.”

27 COMMENTS

  1. AIDEA spending millions of Alaska’s money resulting in bankrupt businesses with the owners pocketing millions. If an individual were to follow the AIDEA way of investing they would starve. Stopping giving millions away to the wealthy! If they want it let them build it!

  2. As a Juneauite I’m not surprised at all.
    The only thing I’m remotely surprised by is how openly he has shown his hand.

    He must be really confident about something.

  3. Never thought I’d agree with those guys, but they nailed this one: they are absolutely correct, AIDEA should be defunded and disbanded. The state government has no business in private enterprise, and pretty much everything AIDEA has touched has been a disaster.

    • Rate subsidies, tax credits and government participation reduce (hopefully) the cost of capital. There is not much more profound that the cost of capital. But by definition it is political.
      The best approach would be to first decide how big of a public sector as a percentage of the total that we can tolerate. Remember, government has always been and will always be an inefficient allocator of resources.

  4. The America Haters are living right here in Alaska and represent us in the Legislature. They never produced a thing in their lives. They want to take down the American system, where money is produced to operate the Left-wing government. Take them all down!!!!!!
    Now!

  5. Aside: I’ve had dealings with our two House representatives. We disagreed, but it was cordial and open.

    Jesse doesn’t bother to respond to his constituents as a rule.

    The only time I was in his presence I felt the need to take a hazmat shower.

    • MA, your esteemed Senator perfectly represents the Bizzaro World of politics in Alaska and America today. Jessie was and is a ” staffer” one who has spent his career within the boundary of the legislature. No real world experience beyond that. He is a bought and paid for creature of a corrupt system.

  6. As it pertains to the loan participation portfolio, last time I looked the main criticism that could legitimately be made is that AIDEA does not take credit risk. As an economic development entity, one would expect to see higher delinquency rates and some losses. Instead, except for the covid era, the delinquency rate was exceptionally low. The rates are exceptionally good (below market). What that means is that AIDEA is subsidizing rates for deals that don’t need rates subsidized.

    Its not like the reason anyone would deal with AIDEA is that they give exceptional service – they don’t. There is some brain damage involved in dealing with any government entity. In AIDEA’s case, the brain damage is worth it for the killer rates.

    As for the hired gun “economists”, they are shills behaving as instructed by their clients. They are the opposite of independent. Disclosure: I didn’t read the report, (but if paid to do so I might). AIDEA could do better. That they don’t gives the anti-development sector an opportunity to hurt Alaska.

  7. A little context: From 1970 through 1990, with little interruption, the Left ruled Alaska State government. Jay Hammond may have nominally been a Republican but he installed and elevated an astonishing number of people of the Left. These Juneau-based folks financially flourished and held the levers of information, opinion and power with little challenge. Barker and Erickson were in this club. They are not unintelligent men but represent an entitled perspective of people of the old era. At their age they will enjoy the cash boost from producing their predictable report. IMO, there ain’t much new going on here. The Left, as they have done for four or five decades, will complicate and obstruct economic development in Alaska and highlight any possible shortcomings. By any means necessary. Howard Weaver would be proud.

  8. Wow. Its almost like less than 1% of the population of Alaska controls everything on both sides and actually runs state policy.

  9. If Kiehl feels so strongly about Soros and is so offended by any alignment being alluded to‘ then why did he not vet the group SalmonState before using/allowing them to further his agenda? Arabella Advisors is indeed a leftist Marxist group funded by George Soros and are bad news. Kiehl has only himself to blame for any apparent connection.

  10. Why would the director of a financial institution attack an economic study politically? Why did he not produce a copy of the Northern Economics report that AIDEA commissioned back in early of 2023. Ruaro said it would be ready end of 2023. He goes before the legislature and the best he can come up with us an attack on Arabella. AIDEA was supposed to do 7 million in work this summer on the Ambler Project. Ambler Metals was supposed to match. Since NANA is part of the corporate structure of Ambler Metals does AIDEA still have a partner in this project?
    For those comparing this to Red Dog you should look at the facts. Cominco had already completed permitting, engineering and a detailed feasibility study of the mine all they lacked was additional funding.
    Ruaro might not of meant his attack on Arabella to be antisemitic. Kiehl might of gone overboard on the antisemitism angle. But it is a fact bringing up Soros stirs antisemitism.

  11. And we gave them the time to speak, why???? Aren’t our local legislators tired of being outmaneuvered by outside entities???? Call a spade a spade and tell them that we do not need them or their ideas!!!! Or is there something more sinister. Follow ALL the MONEY.

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