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We Build Alaska

Door ajar: Permanent Fund board left its executive session on topic of leaks open to the public

Yesterday, the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) Board of Trustees held an emergency special meeting to discuss the leak of emails to the Alaska Landmine.

The emails obtained by the Landmine showed that Trustee Ellie Rubenstein had set up meetings with Permanent Fund staff and her billionaire father David Rubenstein, as well as money managers who are investors in her own private equity fund.

After the public portion of the meeting, the board voted 4-2 to go into executive session to discuss the leak. Interestingly, Board Chair Ethan Schutt, along with Trustee Craig Richards, voted not to take up the matter in executive session. Trustees Adam Crum, Jason Brune, Ryan Anderson, and Ellie Rubenstein voted to go into executive session. Four votes are required on the board for a majority.

During the public portion of the meeting, Crum and Brune defended Rubenstein. But Richards, without naming Rubenstein directly, was critical of her interactions with staff as well as her attempts to directly engage money managers on behalf of APFC. The discussion and vote for executive session demonstrated a clear divide on the board.

The meeting was held virtually on Webex. The executive session portion of the meeting was supposed to only include board members and some staff, but for unknown reasons members of the public were able to attend. This allowed members of the public to observe what should have been a closed executive session. This was akin to a door being left open in the Capitol during an executive session of a committee, allowing anyone outside to listen in.

A member of the public who attended the entire two and a half hour executive session provided extensive notes to the Landmine. The source also provided multiple screenshots of the executive session, proving that they were able to attend. We have redacted their name to protect their identity.

Rubenstein, who remained quiet during the public portion of the meeting, became animated during executive session, according to the notes.

The notes suggest a high degree of palace intrigue within the Permanent Fund board and staff. For example, at one point APFC CEO Deven Mitchell and Scott Balovich, the head of IT for the APFC, were asked to leave the executive session at the request of Rubenstein, according to the notes.

After Mitchell and Balovich left, Rubenstein said she was surprised that they had not been more concerned about forwarding APFC emails to personal email accounts. Richards then weighed in, saying that staff are “covering their ass” by documenting things. Richards also said he was more concerned about employees feeling uncomfortable than about the leak itself, according to the notes.

Mitchell and Balovich leaving meeting. The other man is a lawyer with the Dept. of Law

There was discussion about the original Landmine story, and speculation about which staff could have been the source of the leak, according to the notes. There was also discussion about a possible external investigation into the leak. Oddly, the notes do not indicate any substantive discussion about the content of the leaked emails. Instead, the meeting was intensely focused on identifying the source of the leak.

According to the notes, Brune and Crum seem to think CEO Deven Mitchell was the source of the leak. Rubenstein then voiced concern about staff writing unsecure memos. She then asked Richards for his opinion, and mentioned that they had gone out of their way to not put their suspicions about Mitchell in writing, according to the notes.

Crum and Rubenstein then both voiced concerns about staff, according to the notes. Crum said that he no longer wants to have one on one meetings with staff. Rubenstein then stated she has issues with the CIO, Marcus Frampton, and does not trust him to handle private equity.

Earlier in the executive session, the notes stated Rubenstein expressed frustration that some staff may have transferred APFC emails to private email accounts. Extensive discussion followed regarding IT policies about emails, according to the notes. Rubenstein mentioned that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) does not allow forwarding emails to private accounts, and accused Frampton of having done so.

Brune referenced an email he sent to Mitchell with a list of questions about the source of the leak, according to the notes. Mitchell said he asked all the staff who received emails if they were the source of the leak. They all said no.

Rubenstein then asked if “Rachel” was the source of the leak. It’s unclear who Rachel is, but Balovich responded that she did not show up on the Exchange system, according to the notes.

The notes also stated that Anderson asked whether possessing the leaked emails was a crime. Mitchell said that that was Rubenstein’s concern as well. But Mitchell indicated that he felt possession of the leaked emails itself was not a crime, but that the release of the emails may have been a crime, according to the notes. Mitchell also said he hoped there was not someone in the organization trying to undermine it.

The notes stated that Rubenstein expressed concern about staff making “unchecked allegations.” She went on state that there had been no head of private equity for nine months, and that Frampton had worked to undo relationships. She said it was “baseless” to conclude that she had pressured Frampton into investing Permanent Fund money into companies she’s connected with. She also said she had no idea a Permanent Fund staffer had met with Carlyle, according to the notes. Schutt then weighed in, saying that she was straying from the executive session topic.

The notes state there was extensive discussion about whether to issue a statement that the board had conducted an investigation into the leak. Mitchell pushed back, stating that that an IT review had been done, not an investigation.

Rubenstein asked if there was a way to check if personal cell phones had been used to forward emails, and added that it appeared someone had taken photos of the emails, according to the notes.

Brune asked if a search had been done to see if anyone “was stupid enough” to email Jeff Landfield. Balovich said it had not been done, but they could, according to the notes.

Brune also seemed to want to look at who has cultivated relationships with Jeff Landfield, according to the notes.

Yesterday, the APFC issued a statement that they were aware the public had been able to access their executive session.

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Joseph Geldhof
1 month ago

Jason Brune and the Crum kid being anywhere near the public’s sovereign fund is an obvious mistake. Their obsession with finding a Leak instead of addressing the merits of the conflict of interest question that’s at the center of this story is creepy.
Crum and Brune should resign in order to stop further harm and embarrassment to our Governor.

Rat Pack
1 month ago

Watch your back Jeff, the elites don’t play nice

floridawoman
1 month ago

You like fun? You could cultivate a relationship with Landfield for us.

Elim#2
1 month ago

Since you’ve named the PFD leaky board members, how about also naming the BSNC leakers?

Bart daniel
1 month ago

Amateurs rookies and bag goons that have no business managing our money

Detroit to the Max
1 month ago

On some real talk, when them board members be all up in their own pockets and spilling mad secrets just to push their own game, the Alaska Landmine should call out them dumbbells at Bering Straits and lay bare their shady motives.

Ed Martin Jr
1 month ago

It is time to see that those Board Members follow the statutory law requiring public officials bonds ! as 39.05.050 & as39.15.010 – 100. It’s not is should never be A Attorney/ Client protection when asked what our AG thinks of these violations by this PF Board

Ed Martin Jr
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed Martin Jr

Jeff please contact me about the Bonding statutes . It’s a story on it’s own ! 907-252-7857. To the best of my knowledge only one Commissioner currently holds a Bond. that’s our newly approved Commissioner of Labor & Workforce Development! Please inquire with that brave public servant!!!

Rick G
1 month ago

Well, I’m sure this article is going to trigger another hunt for who the hell allowed the meeting to be public. It’s incredibly telling about the character of this board when their focus is on finding and punishing the whistle blowers instead of addressing the real problem of a corrupt board member.

FizzKid
21 days ago

What a dumpster fire. Jesus christ what the hell is going on over there.