On July 15, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka posted a campaign video showing her and her family at “fish camp” in Ninilchik. The video post stated, “I got to take a break from the campaign trail in Ninilchik, where I got to enjoy Fish Camp with my kids. This is what Alaska is all about! Check it out!”
But some simple research paints a strange picture. The video was filmed at a commercial set net site owned by former Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman, and a tender in the video is owned by a supporter of Lisa Murkowski.
You can see the video here.
I got to take a break from the campaign trail in Ninilchik, where I got to enjoy Fish Camp with my kids. This is what Alaska is all about! Check it out! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/eYd1q7WiId
— Kelly Tshibaka (@KellyForAlaska) July 15, 2021
In the video, Tshibaka and her family can be seen taking fish out of a net, and at one point selling fish to a tender. The tender, the Anna Lane, is owned the Scalzi family in Homer. Luke Scalzi, the son of Barbara and the late former legislator Drew Scalzi, told the Landmine the Tshibaka campaign did not ask if his boat could be in the video, and if they would have asked he would have said no. Scalzi, whose father served in the Alaska House with Lisa Murkowski, said that Tshibaka “seems like a nice person” but that he supports Lisa Murkowski.
Former Alaska Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman, the owner of the set net site, told the Landmine that he gave the Tshibaka family permission to use the site, but was not aware of any video production involving his site. He said he routinely lets his friends use the site.
The state of Alaska shows no record of Tshibaka in possession of a commercial or subsistence permit. Neither is there a record under Hartline, Tshibaka’s maiden name. An email to the Tshibaka campaign asking about the site where the video was filmed and whether Tshibaka holds a commercial crew license, was answered by Tim Murtaugh, Donald Trump’s former Director of Communications. Murtaugh responded, “Kelly and her campaign followed the rules under the guidance of the operator.” The email stated Murtaugh is spokesperson for the Tshibaka campaign.
The Landmine will be submitting a records request to Fish and Game to see if Tshibaka holds an Alaska commercial crew license or fishing license. Tshibaka moved back to Alaska in 2019 to after nearly two decades working in Washington D.C. for various government agencies. She returned when Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) appointed her commissioner of the Department of Administration. In late March, Tshibaka filed to run against incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska). She has attacked Murkowski for not supporting Donald Trump. She was recently endorsed by the Alaska Republican Party.
This is not the only recent instance in which a U.S. Senate candidate in Alaska has appeared to embellish hunting and fishing credentials. Al Gross, who unsuccessfully challenged Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska) last year, landed in hot water after it came out that the Gross campaign had been spreading a misleading account of an incident in which a bear snuck up on Gross. The Gross campaign had claimed that Gross had killed the bear, but official records stated that Gross’s companion had killed the bear. The Gross campaign’s story unraveled following a records request to Fish and Game.