In what has become routine for Suzanne Downing, a story published earlier today in Must Read Alaska contains nothing more than a political attack wrapped in fake news. Publishing false or misleading information is nothing new for Downing, but today’s attack was sloppier than usual and demonstrates the extent to which Downing ignores basic journalistic standards in a transparent attempt to attack political opponents.
The article, The Mental Health Budget, agreed on nearly unanimously, remains locked in Legislature as time runs out on July 1 shutdown, reports on a letter that Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) sent to Senate President Peter Micciche (R – Soldotna) and House Speaker Louise Stutes (R – Kodiak) this afternoon. In the letter, Dunleavy asks them to transmit the Mental Health budget to him. But there’s just one small problem. House Bill 71, the Mental Health budget was transmitted to Dunleavy today at 5:30 pm.
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The conference committee report (the final version of a bill after the House and Senate negotiate their differences) for the Mental Health budget passed the House and Senate almost unanimously last week. It passed the House on June 15 and the Senate on June 16. Both bodies also voted for a July 1 effective date. What Suzanne Downing seems to be unaware of is that after a bill is passed it needs to be engrossed and enrolled by nonpartisan legislative staff. For complex appropriation bills, like the Mental Health budget, that process can take several days. After the bill is enrolled, a process where legislative lawyers carefully review it to ensure it is ready for transmittal, it then needs to be signed by the Senate President and Speaker of the House.
Micciche signed it on June 22. Stutes signed in on June 23. It was sent to Dunleavy today, June 24. The letter was sent to Miciche and Stutes today at 4:48 pm. The bill was transmitted to Dunleavy today at 5:30 pm. Speaker Stutes’ office confirmed they did not even see the letter until after the bill was transmitted to the governor.
So why did Dunleavy send the letter, and why did Downing do this story? Well, based on the timing of when she published the story, it’s clear Downing had prior knowledge of the letter, and might have had the letter itself, before Micciche and Stutes received it. This appears to be yet another orchestrated attack by Dunleavy’s people and Suzanne Downing against the Legislature. In this case to deflect from the ongoing mess with the budget. Except this time Downing botched the timing badly, revealing Must Read Alaska’s “journalism” to be a combination of amateur hour and fake news.