Why we censured Rep. Kelly Merrick in District 14 - Must Read AlaskaQ
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Why we censured Rep. Kelly Merrick in District 14

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By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO

On Feb17, 2021, the Alaska Republican Party District 14 (Eagle River) unanimously passed a resolution to censure D14 House Rep. Kelly Merrick. 

Why was this done? 

During District 14 meetings prior to the 2020 general and primary elections, Rep. Merrick officially and on several occasions announced that she would not caucus with the Alaska House Democrats.  

This public announcement was a commitment to protect the integrity of the Alaska Republican Party platform in District 14 as well as secure support from D14 Alaska Republicans for Rep. Merrick’s upcoming election.  Based on this commitment, D14 Alaska Republicans voted to support her.

On Feb. 11, Representative Merrick was the needed vote out of all Republican House members in attendance to elect District 32 Rep. Louise Stutes as Speaker of the House of the 32nd Legislature. In so doing, Rep. Merrick handed power and control of the Alaska House of Representatives to the Democrats.

Rep. Louise Stutes is the first Republican elected as House speaker since 2017.  She came into the legislature in 2015. One of her first actions as a new legislator was to join the Musk Ox Coalition with other Republicans who then caucused with the Democrats. 

Out of that coalition, she is the only legislator to survive the last election process.

By Feb. 15, Representative Merrick was named Co-Chair of the House Finance Committee and given a seat on the House Committee on Committees, which establishes the power and control of house representatives over agenda and each other. This typically is along party lines, which in this case is the Democratic party.

Was this series of actions a violation of Representative Merrick’s commitment to D14?

Was this an act of corruption?

After several requests by D14 Alaska Republican Party leaders to explain herself, Rep. Merrick has chosen not to respond.  

On Feb. 17, the D14 Alaska Republican Party saw this as a violation of Rep. Merrick’s commitment and unanimously censured her.

Alaska State law appears to have no statutory definition of corruption but it is included in Alaska Statutes 15.45.510 as one of the grounds for recall.  

Corruption is defined per Black’s Law Dictionary as: “a fiduciary’s or official’s use of a station or office to procure some benefit either personally or for someone else, contrary to the rights of others.” 

The Alaska Supreme Court has directed that the recall statutes “should be liberally construed so that the people [are] permitted to vote and express their will.”

To date, no Alaska state legislator has ever been recalled.

On or before Feb. 11, Representative Merrick made the decision to vote for Representative Stutes as House Speaker.  

Did she do this after discussion with her District 14 Alaska Republican party constituency?  It appears not.

Did she do this after discussion with any of her Republican House members? It also appears not.

Instead, she met with members of the Alaska House Democratic Caucus. 

This meeting included District 20 Rep. Zack Fields, a Democrat. The details of this meeting are not available, but the outcome resulted in Rep. Stutes becoming House Speaker.

Zack Fields is the director of business development at the Laborers Local 341 Union in Anchorage.

Joey Merrick, Rep. Merrick’s husband, is the business manager/secretary-treasurer of the Laborers Local 341 Union in Anchorage and is Zack Fields’ superior.

On Feb. 11, during the House session as recorded on “Gavel to Gavel,” Rep. Fields asked for unanimous consent to nominate Rep. Stutes as Speaker of the House. This was objected to and a roll call vote was held. The screenshot below tells what then happened.

Later that same day of Feb. 11, Rep. Merrick double downed on her stated commitment not to caucus with the Alaska House Democrats in writing officially announced, “To be clear, I have not joined the Alaska House Coalition. However, like most Alaskans, I have been frustrated by taking the same fruitless votes day after day and I felt we could no longer afford to delay extending the Governor’s emergency disaster declaration, crafting a fiscally conservative budget, and passing the construction jobs bill.”

Why would she out of all the other issues in front of the Alaska Legislature include “passing the construction jobs bill”?

Was this statement predicated upon her agreement with Rep. Zack Fields, Director of Business Development at the Laborers Local 341 Union, under orders from his superior, Joey Merrick, Rep. Merrick’s husband, who is the business manager/secretary-treasurer of the Laborers Local 341 Union?

The failsafe exoneration used by many politicos for this is the typical refrain, “That’s politics.”  This is generally accepted by some but for others this is not acceptable. 

Let’s examine this from a different angle.

When a person is used by others to accomplish something which is deliberately concealed from others, that person is deemed a patsy. 

Was Rep. Merrick set up by Representative Fields and other Democrats to take the fall for yet another Alaska legislative controversy?

Was this even more stinging with the fingerprints of her own husband as the puppet master?

When a person, while acting in an official and fiduciary capacity, uses her station to wrongfully procure a benefit for herself and others which were contrary to her oath of office, her duty, and the rights of those she represents, is this corruption?

William Blake once wrote, 

“A truth that’s told with bad intent 

Beats all the lies you can invent.” 

Michael Tavoliero is a realtor at Core Real Estate Group in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chairs Eaglexit.

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  • Once more shows the integrity and efficiency of the Alaska republican party to back Merrick into office. Now we get to see if they have the cajones to get her out, or if they just wring their hands and say ‘Oh, what a bad thing happened, but we can’t do anything.’

    • Imagine that. Who would have ever thought that voting with the enemy camp when you committed not to could be seen as traitorous or at least dishonest?

  • So who’s the guest contributor that won’t post their name? Cowardly.

    Suzanne. If they won’t allow their name you should not post their stuff. It’s easy to cast stones when you’re anonymous.

    • Patti – the author is Michael Tavoliero and he did not intend to remain anonymous. Although his name was at the bottom of the column, it was my error in not putting it also at the top. Thank you for your note. – sd

      • Thank you.

    • Insert foot in mouth now. Geez!

  • I am a constituent of District 14, Kelly Merrick and a retired member of Laborer’s Local 341. The union doesn’t speak for me on political matters and has caused my representative to betray my wishes as an Alaskan. I voted for her censure and regret that she has chosen the interests of the union mob over those who voted for her. The Democrats are proud but hopefully this is actionable corruption.

  • “Stand By Your Man” – Miss Loretta Lynn

    • Hi Jay,

      I believe Tammy Wynette wrote it, but Loretta did sign it.

      Just a little quote from that tune.

      “You’ll have bad times
      And he’ll have good times”

      • They both sang it. Tammy dumped her man while Loretta should have.

    • Jay, good point, and didn’t the author of this story know Rep. Merrick? Was Tavoliero and the rest of the republican honcho’s unaware that Joey, the Laborers union Business Rep was Rep. Merrick’s Husband? Seems to me that Rep. Merrick is now the scapegoat to cover for multiple failures elsewhere within the republican party leadership. Politics is a dirty business. Democrats are better at playing foul than their R counterparts. We have a two party system it has been said, The Evil Party and the Stupid Party. Republicans being the Stupid Party.
      B.T.W. Standing by your man is a conservative value. I mean, God, Family, Country, isn’t that the order of things?

      • Maybe the voters should be “aware”. Is playing foul “better”?

  • “Stand By Your Man” – Miss Tammy Wynette.

  • Well said, Mike! I was at the meeting when Kelly actually became upset and defensive when she was asked, very directly, about whether she would caucus with the Democrats. She was highly offended that anyone would even make such an insinuation. It feels a little like a gut punch when someone you dearly want to believe in and support lies straight to your face. D14’s historic hesitancy to censure anyone (e.g., Murkowski) speaks volumes with how quickly they responded in this case. I too hope for further action to be taken, as swiftly as possible. We need to send a message to these power hungry turn-coats that THEY work for US and not for themselves. The Field’s relationship is a dark twist that only further calls into question her integrity. Talk about a conflict of interest! Accountability and integrity may not matter much in many areas of America today but it matters a whole heck of a lot to Eagle River and Chugiak!

  • Recall.

  • I read nothing in Mr. Tavoliero’s opinion that constitutes illegality. This is normal everyday politics where deals are cut and interests are exposed. Sure, you can say she betrayed how she represented herself to voters and start a recall movement under Alaska’s silly recall statute.
    On the other hand if the “construction jobs” bill turns out to benefit the voters in Eagle River and elsewhere (not corrupted or kick backed or feather bedded to some bureaucrat) then maybe she did her job.
    Ultimately her supposed self interest in the “construction jobs” bill also needs the approval of a narrowly divided House and Senate.
    And somewhat humorously, none of this means anything.
    In order to fund a backlog of needed maintenance and capital projects, we will have to suspend the Dividend. Good luck with that people!

  • If there is a message to be sent, the voters in District 14 seem to be together enough to send one….if what Kelly Merrick has done is actionable then it should be done…let’s give the courts something else to chew on and get her recalled and someone appointed that can and will represent District 14

  • This is perfidious behavior and could end badly for everyone. Therefore I hope that for the sake of all Alaskans we will see District 14 continue to pursue this matter within the law and the public arena. Perhaps a 24 hour (unarmed) vigil at her home would convince her to come talk with her constituents, to explain her actions. As things now stand Representative Merrick is sequestered in Juneau and answerable to no one for the coming 18 months. The Juneau delegation to the Legislature is ecstatic, but they must see that this is one of the best arguments to move the capital!

  • The problem isn’t people like Merrick. The problem is the feckless AK GOP.
    Look at the all stars they continue to hand us.

    Who could have guessed a woman who’s husband is a high ranking union man, who had connections to one of the sleaziest Democrats (Fields) in AK, might go back on her word and join the Democrats?

    How about everybody with a brain.

    Note to Eagle River: start looking deeper into your alleged GOP candidates. You can’t count on the GOP to do it.

  • Good article! For Merrick to think that her constituents are being fooled by her actions only makes her look like an idiot. Joining a caucus with the Democrats is like handing over the keys to the bulldozer. A good old boy union trick, to invite her onboard as a cross-party, co-chair. Fields gets a raise and Merrick steers state money to her hubby’s union interests. It’s all dumb, and played out in front for everyone to see. Get rid of Merrick. She needs to go back to junior high.

    • ……more like gradeschool, Chrissy.

      • Romper Room. The woman has little brains and probably has a thingie for Zack.

        • A “thingie” for Zack speaks volumes for Merrick’s IQ. Below room temperature. A wee bit above Zack’s.

          • 🤣🤣

  • Republican Party rules Article one section four state that the district can withhold funding and select a different candidate next go around. The SCC can do all the above plus prohibit the offending representative from running again as a Republican. I suggest both of these are in order.

  • Merrill – now alleges she did it to get going on her fiscally conservative budget? Working with Democrats toward chaos & income taxes.
    Merrick — Truly “ Home of the Whopper.”

    Dishonest.. Dishonor…Democrats.

  • Hmmm…. Merrick should probably resign before she embroils her family, the Laborer’s Union & the State Legislature in an inconvenient federal corruption investigation.

    • I wish that were true. I wish that we could trust the government to look out for dishonesty, corruption and the public best interest. I remember watching The F.B.I. with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and believing in the honesty and dedication to root out evil and threats to America at large. Now we have the likes of Holder, Brennan, Comey et.al. who we can only trust to use the enormous power of government to expand their own base and destroy enemies. Merrick may go, but more likely it will be because of promotion into a prominent position in the current administration as a good loyal soldier to the cause.

  • This repeated trend of coalitions with minority Democrats in the Legislature is a repeated recipe for handing power over to the minority. My bet is that it is based on corruption. Voters need to ignite a hot fire under it.

    • It’s a tried and true strategy.

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