Ellie Rubenstein, who was appointed to the Permanent Fund board of Trustees in June of 2022 by Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska), spoke at a finance conference in Saudi Arabia last week. Her speech has raised eyebrows for containing glaring factual errors and false claims about her professional history and role on the board.
Rubenstein was speaking on a panel at a Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Rubenstein is the daughter of billionaire David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, and Alice Rogoff, the former owner of the Anchorage Daily News who ran it into bankruptcy. Ellie Rubenstein was recently elected vice-chair of the Permanent Fund board.
Here is a clip of her most bizarre claims:
Rubenstein claimed that the board would soon unveil a $100 billion strategic plan, which she referred to as “my baby.” The board rejected that idea on Monday.
When asked by the moderator about the board’s decision to decrease private equity investment, Rubenstein said she did not seek out being on the Permanent Fund board. She then claimed that Dunleavy called her 15 months ago and told her, “I hear you are running around the world, quote-unquote, feeding the Middle East.” Rubenstein runs a fund called Manna Tree, which focuses on food.
Rubenstein then took credit for building the Office of Food Security. There is not a single mention of her in the press release about the creation of the Office of Food Security.
She claimed to be the first woman vice-chair of the board and the first professional investor on the board “in history.” Former Revenue Commissioner Lucinda Mahoney, a woman, was elected vice-chair of the board in 2021. Grace Berg Schaible, another woman, served as chair from 1995-1997. And Melphine Evans, yet another woman, served as vice-chair from 2000-2001.
There have also been several professional investors who have served on the board, but maybe one sticks out. Elmer Rasmuson served as the first chair of the Permanent Fund board several years before Rubenstein was even born. Rasmuson served as president of the National Bank of Alaska and left $400 million to the Rasmuson Foundation when he died in 2000.
Alaska Statute 37.13.050, Composition and qualifications of board of trustees, states:
(b) The four public members of the board must have recognized competence and wide experience in finance, investments, or other business management-related fields.
The moderator then asked Rubenstein, “Alaska isn’t known for its investment professionals?” In response, Rubenstein told a story about being in executive committee with “like 12 men” who are “all politicians.” She said she had to “remind them we are there to maximize financial returns, not to make the Legislature mad.”
Six people sit on the board, not 12. None are politicians. The chair, Ethan Schutt, is a lawyer who serves as EVP & general counsel for Bristol Bay Native Corporation.
She then said, “They ask me every day if I wake up and think of changing statutes, and I say ‘no I wake up and read the markets.'”
Despite Rubenstein’s insinuation that she is the only member of the board with a fiduciary responsibility to the state, in fact it is a responsibility of all board members.
Of all the claims made by Rubenstein, one alludes to a potential conflict of interest involving her and her billionaire father.
After mentioning the board’s decision to lower private equity she said, “Boy was my father not impressed.” David Rubenstein manages nearly $1 billion of Permanent Fund money. According to a 2022 ADN article about her appointment to the board, Carlyle and affiliated firms are paid to manage some $825 million, or 1%, of the Permanent Fund’s investments, according to a breakdown provided by Paulyn Swanson, a spokeswoman for the corporation.”