Last week I did a story on a massive pay disparity between two employees of the Dunleavy administration:
The story pointed out that Lynn Gattis is being paid $52,224.00 while Jim Sackett is being paid $125,004.00 – for the same job. Both are regional Directors. Gattis runs the Governor’s Mat-Su Office. Sackett runs the Governor’s Fairbanks Office.
Two days later, KTUU did a follow-up story:
Before I ran my story I called and texted Mary Ann Pruitt, Governor Dunleavy’s Communications Director, for a comment. I never heard back from her. Matt Shuckerow, Dunleavy’s Press Secretary, did give a comment to KTUU. Shuckerow did the best damage control he could, but the damage had already been done. According to the KTUU story:
He attributed the apparent pay disparity between Gattis and Sackett to dissimilar positions, despite the identical titles.
Gattis was hired in a temporary role to “stand up” the Mat-Su office, he said, while Sackett’s position is permanent full-time.
There are two major problems with what Shuckerow told KTUU. First, in a records request obtained by the Alaska Landmine, both Gattis and Sackett are listed as Exempt Full Time employees. Second, before Gattis took the job, former State Senator Bill Stoltze briefly had the job. According to a previous records request, Stoltze was paid $95.004.00. This is the same amount as the person who previously held the job under Governor Walker.
There is one very interesting thing about Stoltze’s classification that proves the Dunleavy administration got caught with their pants down. Stoltze was also listed as a Director, but his time class was listed as Temporary – Exempt. According to Shuckerow, Gattis was hired in a temporary role to stand up the office. Ignoring that she is listed as Exempt Full Time, even if she was hired in a temporary role, why is she only being paid $52,224.00 while Stoltze was being paid $95,004.00? This requires some speculation.
Here is what I think happened. Stoltze left the job after only a few weeks. There have been a lot of rumors and speculation floating around about why he left. But nonetheless, after he left they needed to quickly fill the position. Lynn Gattis is a former Valley legislator. She is good friends with Mike Dunleavy. She ran for lieutenant governor last year. She is a team player. She is widely known and respected in Republican circles. She is also is not hurting for money. Her husband is a retired FedEX pilot. They also have a huge amount of rental and stock income, as well as income from their farm business. Here is her financial disclosure from last year.
The Dunleavy administration probably figured they could get Gattis on the cheap because she has money and she is a team player. In fact, here is what she told KTUU, “Gattis declined to comment, but did say she loves her job and supports the governor.”
People should be paid to do a job based on their experience and qualifications, not how much they are worth. Gattis is definitely more qualified for the job than Jim Sackett. This is almost certainly the work of Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock and/or Deputy Chief of Staff Amy Demboski. Both know Gattis well. I can just imagine the conversation where they asked her to take the job. Rather than owning up to what they did, they decided to have Shuckerow contrive an explanation that is easily shown to be ridiculous.
The KTUU story ended with, “Shuckerow said the governor is in the process of switching the Mat-Su position into a permanent, full-time role, and that Gattis has been asked to apply.” The Dunleavy administration is big on loyalty. If this is how they treat their friends when shit hits the fan, imagine how they treat their enemies.