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The Sunday Minefield – February 18, 2018

Each week of the legislative session gets stranger and stranger. Week five is no exception. Between the Senate Seat E debacle and a resolution about porn, the characters in Juneau never fail to provide the kind of content Landmine readers dream of.

The Legislature

Representative David Eastman (R – Wasilla) introduced a resolution about the dangers of pornography in society. Committee hearings are about to get real entertaining! What’s that saying about how when someone is really against something they actually secretly love it? I wonder if he means all porn or specifically gay porn. This is a screen shot from a home school alumni group forum that Eastman posted in back in 2005. The website was recently taken down. Thank god for screen shots!

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URSA Optical

I’ve met a lot of gay people in my life but have never met any of the “practicing homosexual cannibals” that Eastman refers to. What kind of cats does he party with? I thought conservatives loved the military. What if anyone else called West Point professors practicing homosexual cannibals?

Tensions within the Senate Majority seem to be very high. During a Senate Resources Committee meeting, Senator Cathy Giessel (R – Anchorage) snapped at Senator Natasha von Imhof (R – Anchorage) after von Imhof asked some harbor master guy a weird question that didn’t have anything to do with him. Check out the interaction here. I don’t think von Imhof has ever been talked to that way in her life. Damn.

Giessel being rude to von Imhof

Sounds like things in Representative Sam Kito’s (D – Juneau) office got interesting this week. An owner of a local distillery had been trying to get a meeting with Kito for almost a month to discuss the distillery bill. The owner of the distillery, which is located in Kito’s district (along with around a third of all distilleries in Alaska), went to his office to see what the deal was. A recent bureaucratic decision banned distilleries from serving mixed drinks. A bill in the legislature aims to fix it. Apparently Kito’s staff weren’t happy about it and got nasty with him. Seems like a real winning constituent relations strategy… Sounds like Kito’s staff could use a good stiff drink.

Speaking of Kito, he picked up a primary opponent this week. Sara Hannan, a retired teacher, announced on Facebook that she filed a letter of intent to run for the house seat comprising Skagway, Haines, Gustavus and downtown Juneau. Apparently she is abandoning her dream of becoming a pro surfer to take on Kito. She should probably talk to the distillery folks about some campaign donations.

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AES

 

Senator Peter Micciche (R – Soldotna) had a rather interesting meeting with the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) board this week. The AFN board was in Juneau talking to legislators. A board member asked Micciche how they could better interact with the senate. Micciche responded by basically saying the senate is always available to talk but he understands that Natives are timid around non-Natives (I think he meant whites). I guess there was a collective gasp in the room. I would say the term “know your audience” applies here but I’m not sure it goes far enough on this one.

The comment was the topic of many discussions at the next break and throughout the rest of the day. Word spread quickly through political circles and it was brought up at a charity event later that night at the Governor’s Mansion. Micciche was at the event and asked an AFN board member what she thought of Micciche’s interaction with the board. Let’s just say he did not get a timid response…

Senator Mia Costello (R – Anchorage) has had some more staffing changes. Sorcha Hazelton, a staffer to Costello, moved to Representative Sam Kito’s (D – Juneau) office (I wonder if she likes distilleries?) She went from a Republican senator to a Democrat representative, hmm…. Josh Walton, who worked for Costello in the past, is coming back on board. Costello has had quite the staff turnover this session. I wonder what that’s about?

Jessica Geary was named the new Legislative Affairs Agency Executive Director by the Legislative Council. She takes over from longtime director Pam Varni, who recently retired. Geary previously served as Finance Manager and Deputy Executive Director for the agency. Congrats to her. Jessica, you can reach me at jeff@alaskalandmine.com if you want to leak some good stuff for the Landmine.

Other Happenings

Check out the mailer inviting people to a fundraiser hosted by Mark Begich and his wife, Deborah Bonito, for Elvi Gray-Jackson. Gray-Jackson is running for the senate seat that Senator Berta Gardner (D – Anchorage) is not seeking re-election for. Hard to tell if Elvi or Mark is running based on the mailer. When Mark is on a mailer, he is ON a mailer.

Anthony Lekanof held a well-attended fundraiser at Pepper Mill on Friday (2/16/2018). Lekanof is challenging Representative Harriett Drummond (D – Anchorage) for her District 18 seat. In addition to the usual suspects, there were a number of people from the Pribilof Islands and Mount Edgecumbe. Lekanof attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School not too long ago – he’s only 21! But, he is articulate, affable, knows how to work a room and comes across as more mature than his age. Regardless of how this race plays out, I expect this guy has a real future in Alaska politics.

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ASEA

Lekanof is a client of Pinnacle Group, the newly formed conservative political consulting firm of Rick Whitbeck and Zach Freeman. They have several clients, one of whom is Sara Rasmussen. Rasmussen is currently running in the Republican primary against former Representative Liz Vazquez, the winner will face Representative Jason Grenn (I – Anchorage) in the general election. Optima Public Relations, owned by Tom Anderson, is working on Vazquez’s campaign. Why does this all matter? Anderson has a talk show on a radio station where Whitbeck is the sales manager. This must make for a very interesting office work dynamic. What happens if Anderson tries to place an ad for Vazquez on the station? #AlaskaPolitics

Governor Bill Walker also held a fundraiser on Friday night (2/16/2018). His was in a Lake Hood hangar, and the food and wine was great! There were around 50 people there, many of whom I did not know. Walker’s wife, Donna Walker, was speaking when I walked in. One funny comment she made about fundraising was that Bill and Byron Mallott (lieutenant governor) are doing really well, but added Bill’s brother isn’t supporting him like some other candidate’s brothers are. This was a jab at Mike Dunleavy whose brother, Frances Dunleavy, is supporting by contributing to a newly formed independent expenditure, Dunleavy for Alaska. Frances is a gazillionaire living in Texas who has already put $100,000 into the IE and committed to much more. Walker jokingly commented that he needs to get his bother to step up his game.

Mike Porcaro, who owns Porcaro Communications and has an afternoon radio show on 650 KENI, is working on the Dunleavy IE. It’s a good thing they hired him because he seems to be easily swayed if he isn’t getting paid. Porcaro initially supported the proposed sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric when it was recently announced by Mayor Berkowitz. He was also bidding for the PR work to help sell the idea to the public. Another firm won the bid. Now all of a sudden Porcaro is against the sale. Hmmm, wonder why?

Mike Dunleavy was in D.C. this week. Word is he met with the members of the Alaska Congressional Delegation. Wonder how that went? Here is a pic of him and his campaign staff, Brett Huber and Amanda Price, in the White House. Hold your horses Mike, one step at a time.

Brad Keithley, who runs Alaskans for a Sustainable Budget, made an interesting Facebook post this week.

 

The comments are pretty entertaining. Whether or not Keithley pulls his support, Suzanne Downing is getting paid well from Republican candidates. Pay for play at its finest. The Landmine does not take ads from political candidates but if you are with a business or group, we would be happy to place an ad!

KTUU reporter Kyle Hopkins announced that he is leaving KTUU to take a job at the Anchorage Daily News as special projects editor. Congrats to him on the new job.

Hopkins joins a long list of folks who have recently left KTUU. They include reporters Austin Baird, Caslon Hatch, Dan Carpenter, Mallory Peebles, cameraman Aaron Weaver, and morning show host MJ Thim. KTUU, do you guys need a guy to do a show? All I require is full autonomy and no boss. Call me maybe?

This Week’s Loose Unit

This was a really hard week to decide. There were four very deserving candidates. After careful thought, this week’s Loose Unit is a tie between Governor Bill Walker and Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock. Walker appointed Randall Kowalke to fill the senate seat Mike Dunleavy recently resigned from. Kowalke was not on the list of three suggested replacements Republicans submitted to him. But there is no law requiring the governor to pick from a list sent by a political party. Republicans were very upset Walker went off list. Babcock actually compared Walker to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un for doing so. A classic Loose Unit comment.

So Walker decided to give Babcock and the Republicans what they asked for and appointed Tom Braund, who was on the Republican’s list. Braund was actually a consideration for this week’s Loose Unit as well. He definitely earned an honorable mention. To give you an idea of Braund, check out this email I got from a Landmine reader nominating him for this week’s Loose Unit:

The Braund appointment was a great trolling move by Walker but not the best political move. Many of Walker’s progressive supporters were shocked that he would appoint Braund because of his extreme pro-life positions, among other things. Damn, Walker is a bit of a Loose Unit, at least this week.

If you have a nomination for This Week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at jeff@alaskalandmine.com.

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