An internal Alaska Industrial Development Export Authority (AIDEA) document obtained by the Alaska Landmine shows that Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) requested the $441,000 sole source contract to Clark Penney last year. Penney earns $8,000 per month, plus travel reimbursement, under the contract. The Landmine broke the story about the existence of the contract in May of 2019. The contract raised eyebrows because Clark Penney’s grandfather, Bob Penney, had donated over $350,000 to the independent expenditure group Dunleavy for Alaska.
That story included a waiver request for the sole source contract. That document is available here. The waiver request included four points in support of the contract. The third point states “Within AIDEA’s Mission.” However, the internal document obtained by the Landmine lists the third point as “By Governor’s request.” All of the other information is identical.
The waiver in the May 2019 story, which was obtained by a records request, was signed by AIDEA procurement officer Michelle Hope on March 18, 2019. CEO Tom Boutin signed it on March 19, 2019. The metadata in the internal AIDEA document from the contract file shows it was created on a State of Alaska computer on March 15, 2019, four days before Boutin signed the waiver request and three days before Hope signed it.
DCCED is short for the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The metadata shows Shawn Williams created the document. At the time Williams was an assistant commissioner at DCCED. Williams was featured in the original story because he was involved with the Alaska Development Team. Penney’s contract is for work with the Development Team. According to the metadata the document was modified by Michael Catsi, who also worked for AIDEA at the time. He has since left.
The Landmine obtained a total of seven internal documents from the contract file. The metadata on one of the other documents shows that Clark Penney created a document outlining part of the scope of the contract on March 13, 2019. That metadata shows that document was modified by Shawn Williams.
I requested a comment for this story from both AIDEA and the Governor’s Office. Neither have responded. I also sent the following email to Jeff Turner, Dunleavy’s press person, on February 5:
Did Governor Dunleavy or anyone in the Governor’s Office tell or suggest to AIDEA to give Clark Penney that contract?
I never received a response.
During a House Finance Subcommittee hearing on February 4, AIDEA CEO Tom Boutin said no one from the Governor’s Office told him to give Penney the contract and added, “The buck stops with me.”
The Landmine’s source said that before Penney was awarded the sole source contract “a man from the Governor’s Office had called several times instructing [AIDEA] to give Penney the contract.” The source said that after the story was reported in May, AIDEA executives discussed moving Penney’s contract to the Office of the Governor or cancelling the contract, putting it out for bid, and then awarding it to Penney. Neither option was chosen because they felt the news cycle would move on.
The story will be updated if AIDEA and/or the Governor’s Office provides a comment.