Today was the first day of the second session of the 33rd Alaska Legislature. Which meant last night Republicans and Democrats held their annual pre-session fundraisers. Legislators are prohibited from fundraising during the legislative session, meaning yesterday was the last day they can fundraise for the next three to four months (you can take four months to the bank).
I have been going to these for years. It’s common for members of the media to stop by to see who is attending. There are always plenty of lobbyists at both making donations.
The Republicans usually hold their fundraiser at the Hangar, but this year it was at the Baranof. It was packed with Republican legislators, members of the Alaska Republican Party in town for a meeting, members of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s (R – Alaska) cabinet. Lieutenant Governor Nancy Dahlstrom (R – Alaska) was also in attendance. Everyone had a good time.
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) January 16, 2024
After attending the Republican fundraiser, I headed to the Democratic one. It was held at the home of Juneau attorney Mark Choate, a Juneau mansion. It was held there last year as well. I attended last year and had a great time. There were no issues. That was not the case this year.
I walked in, took off my Xtratuf boots, and walked over to a group of young staffers and legislators. After talking to them for a few minutes, Representative Sara Hannan (D – Juneau) approached me in a very unwelcoming way and asked me if I had donated. I told her no, and said I was there to see who was attending. She the informed me that everyone must donate, and added that she even made legislative staff donate. Ignoring the coercive nature of forcing staff to donate to a political party (some of those staff don’t make a lot of money, even less for the ones who have to move to Juneau for session), Hannan seems to have an issue with the media observing lobbyists and donors cutting big checks and hobnobbing with elected officials at a Juneau mansion.
I honestly thought Hannan was joking. But then she told me, “Everyone donates. Get out.” I knew she wasn’t joking then. I put my boots back on and walked out.
But part of me thought maybe Hannan kicking me out had to do more with my shirt than me not donating. I was wearing a shirt with a large Star of David on the front. It’s no secret the left has a real antisemitism problem. Don’t forget about the time Hannan made a floor speech in September of 2021 and claimed Nazi hypothermia experiments were horrific but “produced results.” Maybe if my shirt had a Hamas or Palestinian flag on it Hannan would have been more inviting!
Hannan was pretty cool her first term. She even came on my podcast. But when she became chair of Legislative Council in her second term she transformed into something of a tyrant. She was a big part of the crazy Covid policies the Legislature adopted. And she did not take well to anyone criticizing her. Power does weird things to some people. Now that she’s in the minority, it seems she’s been relegated to kicking members of the media out of Democratic fundraisers. It’s a good thing she doesn’t have any real power.