2018 was one hell of a year for Alaska politics. Between the continued chaos during the legislative session, the sheer number of new people elected to the legislature, the election of Mike Dunleavy as governor, and the big earthquake that rocked Southcentral on November 30th, 2018 was a year filled with many deserving Loose Units.
If you are a regular Landmine reader, chances are you look forward to finding out who the Loose Unit will be every Sunday. I started the weekly Loose Unit for the first Sunday column of 2018. It has grown to become something politicos all over the state are familiar with. Many Elected officials and public figures fear being named the Loose Unit. I know this because they tell me.
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Below is a list and summary of every Loose Unit for 2018. Please vote for the loosest unit of 2018 by commenting in the article, commenting on Facebook or Twitter, sending me an email at [email protected], or sending me a message. The winner will receive an awesome Alaska Landmine Loose Unit 2018 trophy! It will be presented to the winner by me, unless they refuse it or attempt to harm me in any way.
Week of January 7 – Tammie Wilson
Representative Tammie Wilson (R – North Pole) for sending out a bizarre press release saying she refused to take the new mandatory sexual harassment training and also calling for House Rules Chair Gabrielle LeDoux (R – Anchorage) to resign.
Week of January 14 – Bill Stoltze
Former Senator Bill Stoltze for a story the Alaska Landmine broke about how he went off the rails on female colleagues and his history of bullying behavior while in the legislature. Reportedly screaming, cursing out colleagues, and punching out a window, partly because of a bill that limited the Alaska Railroad’s right-of-way authority.
Week of January 21 – Peter Stein
Peter Stein, the House Majority’s former webmaster, for taking down their website and demanding a $1,000 ransom to put it back up.
Week of January 28 – Zach Fansler
Former Representative Zach Fansler for a drunken episode in a hotel room in which he hit a woman he was seeing and ruptured her ear drum. He later told her in a text message that it was due to his “kink BDSM.”
Week of February 4 – The Valley Davids
Senator David Wilson (R – Wasilla) and Representative David Eastman (R – Wasilla). Wilson for a report from the Legislative Affairs Agency that determined he retaliated when he held a bizarre press conference, taking no responsibility for an incident involving a staffer, at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office in December of 2017. Eastman for being removed from the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics by a house vote of 31-6. He leaked information from the committee to a member of the public.
Week of February 11 – Dan Saddler
Former Representative Dan Saddler for getting into a bizarre interaction with a member of the public who was testifying on a distillery bill. The guy testifying referred to “goofball decisions by the attorney generals office” and “a hyperactive rogue executive director” of the Alcohol and Beverage Control Board. When Saddler asked him to apologize and rephrase the guy referred to stuff Donald Trump has said and added he would be glad to discuss it with Saddler outside. Saddler responded with, “Thank you, sir.”
Week of February 18 – Tie between Bill Walker and Tuckerman Babcock
Then-Governor Bill Walker for going off list and picking Randall Kowalke to fill the seat vacated by then-Senator Mike Dunleavy. Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock for comparing Walker to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un for not choosing from the three names sent to him by Republicans. And then Walker picking Tom Braund, who was on the original list, but ended up being, well, way the hell out there. Among other things he wrote on Facebook that we should use scissors to cut the hearts out of captured people associated with terminating pregnancies. The whole situation was extremely loose.
Week of February 25 – Dimitri Shein
Former Democratic congressional candidate Dimitri Shein for rolling up to a meeting of the Alaska Municipal League in Juneau to attack Congressman Don Young. Young was speaking at their lunch event. Shein, who was not a member of AML, asked Young a question about guns and school safety. During Young’s answer, Shein interrupted him and said, “But what are you doing, what are you doing?” Young, and others in the room told Shein to shut up. Young then told Shein that he was welcome to vote against him. Shein responded, “I will.” It was unclear whether Young knew Shein was running against him. Shein came with staff, who filmed the stunt and later posted the video on social media. Shein was later banned from the event.
Week of March 4 – Lora Reinbold
Representative Lora Reinbold (R – Eagle River) for getting into a verbal altercation with a high school student testifying on a bill that would allow the government to limit gun access for the mentally ill. The student stated that metal detectors are not a good solution. Reinbold disparagingly asked the kid if he had done any research on the effectiveness of metal detectors. Turns out he had. He referenced a study on the TSA in which they missed 95% of threats. He also mentioned how we have to take our shoes off because they missed the shoe bomber and called it “security theater.” Reinbold was not done. She started talking about a recent self-defense course she took and her new “heightened awareness.” The student responded by saying he understands the need for heightened awareness but that he should not have to worry about someone coming in and shooting him while he is in school.
Week of March 11 – Mike Shower
Senator Mike Shower (R – Wasilla) for voting against a motion, right after he was confirmed by Senate Republicans, by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Anchorage) discharging his PFD bill from the Judiciary Committee. Many of Shower’s constituents were displeased with his vote. How did he respond? By declining to join the Republican Senate Majority! After all the back and forth about who the Republicans should pick to replace Dunleavy, they ended up going with a guy who refused to join their caucus.
Week of March 18 – Staffer John Doe
An unnamed legislative staffer for snitching and reporting an “illegal gaming operation” to the Senate Rules Office. The illegal gaming operation he was referring to was March Madness brackets – a pastime for many years just like in offices all around the country. After a Landmine story about Braketgate came out, the snitch realized he was likely going to get outed. Many in the Capitol reported that he was going around telling everyone he was not the snitch.
Week of March 25 – Senate Democrats
The Senate Democrats for walking out of the Senate. During a debate on a bill introduced by Senate Republicans that would create a state spending cap, Senate Democrats offered a variety of amendments. Many of them were ruled not germane by Senate President Pete Kelly (R – Fairbanks). His rulings were upheld by the Senate Majority. Senate Democrats became frustrated and after a speech by Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner (D – Anchorage), all five of them walked out in protest.
Week of April 1 – None
There was no Loose Unit this week. Instead of a regular column I posted a video announcing my candidacy for lieutenant governor as an April Fools joke. You could probably argue that I was the Loose Unit that week.
Week of April 8 – John Coghill
Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole) for what happened at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During a vote on an amendment from Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Anchorage) dealing with pretrial assessment and mandatory release, Coghill got rolled when Senator Mia Costello (R – Anchorage) and Senator Mike Shower (R – Wasilla) voted with Wielechowski. Coghill immediately declared, “We’re adjourned!” Then slammed down the gavel and stormed out of the room.
Week of April 15 – Sam Kito
Representative Sam Kito (D – Juneau) for a variety of things. You may recall when Kito got angry about some chairs outside his office and flipped them over in protest. He has also managed to grow an epic beard last session. Earlier that week, Kito was the lone vote, 59-1, against confirming Leslie Ridle as Commissioner of Administration. That alone is pretty loose, but what made it even more loose is that Kito and Ridle had been friends for 25 years.
Week of April 22 – Daniella Rivera
KTVA Reporter Daniella Rivera for a tweet where she said she was “calling it” in reference to bail for a former credit union worker charged with stealing money from a deceased customer. Bail had not been set yet. After the tweet, the Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House called her out for what she was doing, “editorializing and not journalism.”
Week of April 29 – Robert Edwardson and Justin Parish
Robert Edwardson filed a letter of intent to run for the state legislature that week. Normally not a big deal. But in this case it was for the seat of his former boss, Representative Justin Parish (D – Juneau). Edwardson was previously his Chief of Staff. Not long after he filed, Parish came out with a video on Facebook in which he said he had decided not to run for re-election and that he was endorsing Edwardson. Then, a Juneau Empire story came out that said a woman had accused Parish of acting inappropriately in the past, although not in the Capitol.
Week of May 6 – Jeff Landfield
Due to being on a work trip in Houston, and then partying in Vegas for the weekend, I did not do a column that week. After a myriad of messages asking where the column was, I posted an explanation and a pic for proof. Very loose!
Week of May 13 – Alec Burris
Former UAA student body president Alec Burris. On April 30th, the Northern Light ran a story “USUAA members linked to meme accounts mocking university.” The Instagram account was posting memes mocking the university’s budget and administration. The account was linked to Burris’s phone and email. He initially denied being behind the account. The paper spoke to someone who said they created the account and that they found Burris’s number on the internet. Soon after, the account was deleted. Then Burris resigned as student body president.
Week of May 20 – Sam Kito (repeat winner)
In exchange for his vote on the budget, Kito had a variety of demands. The majority needed his vote so he was in a good position to ask for a lot. One demand was a lot of money for the ferry system. He got that. Word is he also wanted Representative LeDoux removed as House Rules Chair. This goes back to chair gate. I guess he was really pissed she put those chairs back by his office. Kito ended up voting for the budget, but not long after that Speaker Edgmon removed him as Chair of Legislative Council, a very powerful position. Several sources said that during the replacement of former Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA) Director Pam Varni, who was retiring, Kito was extremely unpleasant with LAA staff. Even yelling at them.
Week of May 27 – Unnamed Psychopath
Remember the guy who broke the window at the Anchorage DMV after they had closed? And was screaming, “Bring my mother fuckin ID, bitches!” Yeah, the video says it all.
Week of June 3 – Tie between Bill Walker (repeat winner), Mead Treadwell, and Mark Begich
Bill Walker announced that he would run as an Independent in the Democratic primary. But once Mark Begich decided to get into the race, the campaign changed its mind and Walker then announced that he was running as an Independent by petition. Mead Treadwell accidentally launched his campaign website before he officially filed to run for governor. Begich has a history of waiting until the last minute to file to run for office. But the issue over who will run for lieutenant governor is what earned him the Loose Unit designation. Calling potential candidates the week of the filing deadline, and even the day before.
Week of June 10 – Les Gara
Representative Les Gara (D – Anchorage) for making a Facebook post basically saying he would not run if he found someone to run that he felt represented the values of the District. Not long after, Democrats Zack Fields and Elias Rojas filed to run for the seat. In an email announcing his candidacy, Fields said Gara was endorsing him but added he would drop out if Gara ended up running. Everyone assumed Gara wasn’t running. But then on June 1, the filing deadline, he filed to run for the seat, confusing everyone. Cliff Groh also filed to run as a Democrat that day, making it a four way primary. Then, just four days after he filed, Gara announced that he was dropping out of the race.
Update: Gara filed to run for the seat in April 2018. Many assumed he was going to withdraw before the filing deadline due to the Facebook post and also Fields filing with his endorsement.
Week of June 17 – Sabrena Combs
Palmer City Councilwoman Sabrena Combs for beating her husband’s aunt, Linda Combs, in the previous election. And then voicing her serious opposition to Linda when she applied to fill a vacant seat. Combs cited the issue of having family members serving on the council together. She also said she wanted to apply for the Board of Economic Development years ago but did not because Linda told her it would be an issue having family members working together. I guess Linda changed her mind on that one. Linda was appointed to fill the vacancy by a 4-2 vote of the council. One of the no votes was Sabrena.
Week of June 24 – Select APD Officers
After a tip about a lot of police at Kincaid Park, I headed over with my buddy and cameraman to check it out. We encountered a number of police officers at the main gate. They refused to tell us anything. We drove back down and found a woman who had explained that her stolen car had been recovered by police. The thieves fled into the park after a good Samaritan called the police. When we went back to get a comment, the officers told us we could not film. They also said if we did not leave they were going to charge us with criminal trespassing, in a public parking lot.
Week of July 1 – Patrick Martin
Alaska Right to Life Chairman Patrick Martin for revoking their endorsement of Representative George Rauscher (R – Sutton), a very pro-life legislator. This was likely influenced by Representative David Eastman (R – Wasilla), who doesn’t like Rauscher. Eastman’s PAC endorsed Pam Goode, one of Rauscher’s primary opponents, that week.
Week of July 8 – Julie Willoughby
Julie Willoughby, a defense attorney, for being recommend to be a judge until it was discovered that she argued that sexual assaults perpetrated against a 12-year-old girl by an adult man were a “mutually satisfying sexual adventure” and that the child had not been harmed.
Week of July 15 – Erika McConnell
Erika McConnell, Director of the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office, for sending a letter to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board that recommended they deny the recreational site license to the Anchorage Ski Club for the Arctic Valley Ski Area. She is also the person who decided the state should mess with distilleries and not let them serve mixed drinks.
July 22 – Special Loose Unit Edition
A very loose week indeed. Alyse Galvin, David Eastman (repeat winner), Bert Stedman, Lora Reinbold, DeLena Johnson, Scott Kawasaki, Mead Treadwell (repeat winner), and many more. Click here to read about all of them.
Week of July 29 – Nikki Rose
Former candidate for the West Anchorage Assembly special election, Nikki Rose, for continually posting pictures on her campaign Facebook page of her with different high level people including (but not limited to) Senator Lisa Murkowski R – Alaska), Senator Dan Sullivan (R – Alaska), Representative Chris Birch (R – Anchorage), and OAN host Liz Wheeler saying or implying they had endorsed her. They hadn’t. She had also been saying she is a product of the Anchorage School District, which is interesting because she attended Grace Christian. There was a lot more but these are the highlights.
Week of August 5 – Anand Dubey
Anand Dubey for making a Facebook post smearing Senator Mike Shower (R – Wasilla) and promoting his primary opponent, Randall Kowalke. Normally not a big deal except Dubey was working for Kowalke. When Bob Griffin asked him on the post if he was taking money from Shower’s primary opponent, Dubey made a weird comment about not disclosing his clients and a non-disclosure agreement. Unfortunately for Dubey, APOC does disclose this stuff. According to APOC filing of Shower’s primary opponent, Randall Kowalke, he paid Dubey’s company over $13,000!
Week of August 12 – Lance Pruitt
Representative Lance Pruitt (R – Anchorage) for showing up to an event of his primary opponent, Don Jones, at the Krispy Kreme on Muldoon. Pruitt decided it was a good idea to roll up to the event, five deep, with a posse and some signs. He initially walked inside and sat down, looking kind of sad and defeated. He then moved outside with his posse. Pruitt contacted me after the post and explained that it was a just a coincidence. He had scheduled a fundraiser at the same time as Jones. This all checked out. Talk about bizarre.
Week of August 19 – Bekah Halat
Former senate candidate Bekal Halat for being charged by the State of Alaska for felony food stamp fraud. According to the charging document, an anonymous tipster alerted the state after hearing about her campaign. The charging document also showed the Halat and her husband had income and bank accounts they did not disclose. They said they did not disclose the accounts, with over $30,000 in them, because they don’t use the money. When the investigator asked if she could go withdraw the money she said, “I suppose.”
Week of August 26 – Mead Treadwell (repeat winner)
Former gubernatorial candidate Mead Treadwell for the infamous Mead Meltdown on the Alaska Landmine Facebook Live panel at Election Central for the primary. Here is a list of who he said was partly to blame for his loss:
1) Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC)
2) Talk radio hosts, who he said have all been bought off by the Dunleavy PAC
3) Anchorage Daily News
4) Mike Dunleavy (for being a quitter)
5) Dunleavy for Alaska (IE group supporting Mike Dunleavy)
6) Republican Party establishment
7) Alaska Family Council
8) Alaska GOP Chair Tuckerman Babcock’s wife, Kristie Babcock
9) Alaska Republican Party
10) Alaska Landmine
11) Francis Dunleavy and his checkbook
12) Bob Penney
Towards the end he said, “I’m not going to blame anybody but myself.”
Week of September 2 – House District 15
This is a long and complicated one. It involves Representative Gabrielle LeDox (R – Anchorage), Charlie Chang, Aaron Weaver, and Tuckerman Babcock. Click here to read all about that one.
Week of September 9 – Matt Hickman
Anchorage Press General Manager and Editor, Matt Hickman, for incorrectly posting on social media that Mark Begich had dropped out of the race. Then saying he “teased” a resignation. Then doubling down and writing a series of bizarre articles about the whole thing. One was titled, “Begich endorses Dunleavy victory with news conference to nowhere.”
Week of September 16 – David Grisham
David Grisham for dressing up as the grim reaper and holding a sign that said “The wages of sin is death” outside of Bartlett High School. The word sin was had a rainbow as a backdrop. He’s the “pastor” who told kids in North Pole that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
Week of September 23 – Mike Navarre
Former Walker Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Mike Navarre, for sending out an email announcing that he was taking a leave of absence until after the election. This was likely to help out the campaign of his former boss, Bill Walker.
Week of September 30 – Suzanne Downing
Alaska Republican Party Propaganda Minister, Suzanne Downing, for an article she posted titled “Dancing with Dean Westlake.” There was a picture of Governor Bill Walker dancing at a potlatch in Fairbanks with former Representative Dean Westlake. Or so she thought… The picture was from a video that Walker’s Press Secretary, Austin Baird, had posted. There was just one problem, the man in the video was NOT Dean Westlake. Talk about loose. As one person commented, “Yeah, that’s Dean Westlake if he lost 40 pounds and became an incredible dancer.”
Week of October 7 – Michael Gatti and Nathan Wallace
Micheal Gatti is the attorney for the City of Palmer and Nathan Wallace is the City Manager. They decided to settle a lawsuit with the ACLU over the arrest of an undocumented immigrant by Palmer City Police after he helped a female bartender who was being attacked. They decided to settle the lawsuit without informing the Palmer City Council. Needless to say the Council wasn’t happy about not being told about it until after it happened.
Week of October 14 – Lora Reinbold (repeat winner)
Representative Lora Reinbold (R – Eagle River) for holding an event called “Danger is Still Lurking in SB 91″ at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. The event was really just a campaign event masked as an official event. This was likely a violation of ethics rules.
Week of October 21 – Special Loose Unit Edition
Another really loose week. Byron Mallott, Alyse Galvin (repeat winner), Mike Dunleavy (repeat winner), Mark Begich (repeat winner), and more. Click here to read about them all.
Week of October 28 – Dunleavy for Alaska
It all started when the group put out a video with audio from Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Anchorage) on the Dave Stieren Show talking about how much he likes Mike Dunleavy and how he missed him in the senate. Wielechowski was not happy about it. He asked them to take it down, which they did not. Dunleavy for Alaska then doubled down. They turned Wielechowski’s comments into a radio ad and also posted it on their website. But the loosest thing was what they did to a picture of mine they used with me, Dunleavy, and Wielechowski. They went full Joseph Stalin and photoshopped me out! Leaving Bill and Mike looking real chummy. The doctored image of the two was featured prominently on their website.
Week of November 4 – Vince Beltrami
Vince Beltrami for a legendary misspelling of a candidate’s name on a mailer his union sent out. Check it out for yourself. Care Clit! Her name is Care Clift.
Week of November 11 – Ivan Moore
Ivan Moore for continued inaccurate polling. In 2008, Moore had Ethan Berkowitz ahead of Don Young. Young won. In 2014, his polling had Mark Begich ahead of Dan Sullivan. Sullivan won. In 2016, he told KTUU that Alaska is a “battle ground state” regarding the Trump/Clinton election. We all know what happened there. This cycle his polling said that Alyse Galvin was within striking distance of Don Young, and then that she was up by one point. Young beat Galvin by almost 8 points. His polling also showed that Dunleavy and Begich were close. On October 31st he posted on Facebook, “Begich and Dunleavy are in a dead heat for Governor.” Dunleavy beat Begich by almost nine points.
Week of November 18 – Tuckerman Babcock (reprat winner)
Tuckerman Babcock, Dunleavy’s Transition Chair and at the time soon to be Chief of Staff, for sending out an email to all exempt (EX) and partially exempt (PX) state employees requesting their resignations and asking them to re-apply for their jobs, requiring specific language saying they want to work for the Dunleavy administration. Usually this only applies out to commissioners, deputy commissioners, directors, deputy directors, and the governor’s staff. This email went out to prosecutors, IT people, secretaries, assistants, and many others. To many it felt like a loyalty pledge. Babcock seemed very concerned with the “Deep State.”
Week of November 25 – Unnamed District 1 Voter
Any District 1 voter who decided to not vote, for whatever reason, in the general election. The initial ruling for the race between Republican Bart LeBon and Democrat Kathryn Dodge was a tie. After a recount it was determined LeBon was up by a single vote. The case is currently before the Supreme Court and has yet to be ruled on.
Week of December 2 – The Pacific Plate
For obvious reasons to anyone who was in Southcentral Alaska on November 30.
Week of December 9 – Nancy Dahlstrom
Nancy Dahlstrom for taking a job as Commissioner of the Department of Corrections after she won an election to represent Distinct 13. This is the second time she has taken a job with an administration and left her job as a legislator. The fallout from this caused a real mess in District 13, resulting in Mike Dunleavy choosing Sharon Jackson to serve an entire term having not been elected.
Week of December 16 – Eagle River Republicans
To follow up on the previous week, the meeting to choose the names to send to Mike Dunleavy to replace Nancy Dahlstrom got extremely loose. Click here to read all about that dumpster fire.
I took the next two weeks for the column off for Christmas and New Years. Thanks for reading and vote away!