Oh, boy. It’s been quite the week in Juneau. Loose does not even begin to describe it. Between the ghost hunter guy making the New York Times and Representative Sarah “I hate students” Vance, the content just keeps coming. As one long time Juneau politico put it, “This session is fucking epic.” Another told me, “Skits are going to be lit this year.”
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Senate Judiciary Committee
Where to begin. Let’s start with the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Wednesday (3/6/2018), the Committee heard from several appointees to boards and commissions. Trevor Shaw, who was appointed to the Commission on Judicial Conduct by Governor Michael J. Dunleavy (R – Alaska), was one of them. I wrote an article about questions about his appointment last month. It seems members of the Committee read it, and also heard from several concerned Ketchikan residents about Shaw. His confirmation hearing was something else. Shaw should change his middle name to verbose. He said a lot of words but not much of value or that answered questions from members of the Committee. At one point, Senator Shelley Hughes (R – Palmer), who chairs the Committee, told him to please provide more concise answers.
Shaw faced a recall from the Ketchikan School Board last year. He resigned instead of facing the recall vote. An issue that has drawn questions was Shaw’s relationship with Doug Edwards. Edwards was a teacher and pastor in Ketchikan. He was arrested last year and charged with six counts of sexual abuse of a minor. He has since taken a plea and pled guilty, receiving 18 years with 12 suspended. Edwards was Shaw’s childhood pastor and officiated Shaw’s wedding. The concern was that while Shaw was on the school board he was involved in the board investigation into the multiple complaints against Edwards. Shaw initially refused to recuse himself, and only finally did after several parents expressed concern. He told the Committee an entirely different story. Every member of the Committee questioned Shaw about this. They didn’t seem to buy what he was trying to sell.
At the end, Shaw got real loose and insinuated the Alaska Landmine and Midnight Sun were part of some union conspiracy against him. I was in the room during the hearing. I testified and told the Committee that was not at all what happened. In fact, everyone I talked to when I did the story were Republicans in Ketchikan. This was the same Commission I was appointed to in 2015 by former Governor Bill Walker. All of a sudden my speedo pics don’t seem like such a big thing. #Speedogate
You can see his entire confirmation hearing here. I give it 50/50 that Dunleavy pulls him. Very unlikely that homeboy will get confirmed.
After Shaw, something legendary happened. John Francis, who Dunleavy appointed to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board, was up next for his confirmation hearing. Senator Lora Reinbold (R – Eagle River) REALLY wanted to know about his ghost hunting hobby. Francis is the Co-Founder, Tech Manager, and Lead Investigator, according to their website. You gotta check that out. The hearing got real loose. Reinbold asked him about his belief in the paranormal and if he could talk to dead people. Here is the reaction of Buddy Whitt, staffer to Senator Hughes, after it really got going. Look to the left. Epic facepalm.
After the hearing, an AP article by Becky Bohrer was published in the New York Times, Ghost-Hunting Past Haunts Alaska Board Nominee. That title tho. Who you gonna call! The most legendary thing was what Reinbold posted on her official page. OMG YES! Senator Reinbold, as many know I purchased www.lorareinbold.com, last year. Lora, because of how awesome that hearing was, I am offering to give you your domain. Just epic.
In one of the most bizarre Facebook Live videos ever by a member of the legislature, Representative Sarah Vance (R – Homer) went after a bunch of Homer High School students for sending her letters asking her to not cut the education budget. The video began at 8:45 at night. Vance said she had just met with the governor. In the video, she implied the letters were paid for by the school. In fact, they were paid for by the student council with funds they had raised. She scolded them for not addressing her as Representative Vance. She also read some of the letters in a very condescending tone.
I would love to know who thought this was a good idea. She also said we are currently facing “a negative 1.6 billion dollar deficit.” Wouldn’t that be a surplus? You can’t make this stuff up. Vance faced criticism from many in her district for the video. A few days after the video was posted, she removed it from her page. Luckily, when you put something on the internet it is usually forever. Shout out to Midnight Sun Editor Matt Buxton for sending me the video. You have to watch this.
Representative Vance, pro tip, here is how it is done.
Had a great visit with Alaska’s two @SenateYouth honorees – Avram Salzmann, of Homer, and Sadie Sands, of Dillingham. Congrats, Avram and Sadie, on this great recognition of your hard work and dedication to public service! #ussyp pic.twitter.com/iML4vORaEB
— SenDanSullivan (@SenDanSullivan) March 9, 2019
Update: Representative Vance has since done another video where she apologizes to students for the first video. It’s a heartfelt apology. Good on her for doing that. Click here to watch.
Austin Baird is back in the Capitol. He started this week as Press Secretary for the House Majority. Baird previously worked as Press Secretary for former Governor Bill Walker. Prior to that he was a political reporter for KTUU.
Former Representative Lynn Gattis has been hired as staff to Representative Tammie Wilson (R – North Pole) next week. Congrats, Lynn! Gattis had been working as Governor Dunleavy’s Mat-Su office director for the last month. She took over for former Senator Bill Stoltze after he quit a few weeks into the job. I reported (see article) a massive salary gap between Gattis and Jim Sackett, who heads up Dunleavy’s Fairbanks office. Gattis was earning a little over $52,000 while Sackett was earning over $125,000. The administration tried to explain it away by saying she was just in a temporary role, although she was listed as an full time employee. However, Stoltze, who was listed as temporary, he was being paid $95,000.
Todd Smoldon will be the new Mat-Su office director. He is a teacher and applied for Dunleavy’s Senate seat when he resigned. Dude has an epic mullet. Who wants to bet that Smoldon will get paid at least $95,000? I’m also willing to bet that Wilson pays Gattis an appropriate salary.
Update: I forgot to include this one. My buddy Ryan McKee was promoted to State Director of Americans for Prosperity – Alaska this week. Congrats, Ryan! Don’t party too hard lol. Here is the link to the announcement.
Representative Sara Rasmussen (R – Anchorage) terminated staffer Parker “do you know who I am” Haymans this week. Haymans had earned a reputation of being a know-it-all in the Capitol. I guess she had enough. You may remember when his dad, Branch Haymans, got real loose after the infamous Mead Meltdown at Election Central for the primary. I wish the camera was rolling when he came up to me after. Very loose.
Want to see what a Mead supporter looks like when he gets triggered by Jeff Landfield? Watch this. This was right after the Mead Meltdown.
Posted by The Alaska Landmine on Thursday, August 23, 2018
The Senate overwhemingly passed an ANWR resolution this week. It was sponsored by Senator Chris Birch (R – Anchorage). The resolution encourages leasing and development in the area. Last year, Congress opened up ANWR to oil and gas development as part of the tax bill. Check out this video of Birch speaking about it. I had no idea I was in it! People have been asking me if I was an angel or a devil on his shoulder.
Some people are not fans of Jeff Landfield. Check out this note I was given during a committee hearing this week. Whoever you are, come at me bro.
A nearly four hour hearing of the House Health and Social Services Committee on the Alaska Psychiatric Institute this week got very contentious. Representatives Ivy Spohnholz (D – Anchorage) and Matt Claman (D – Anchorage) did not hold back on their criticisms of the Dunleavy administration about the sole source contract to Wellpath to manage API. There was also an interesting question about an email from Department of Administration Deputy Commissioner Al Wall about the event which the administration used to justify their emergency authority for the sole source contract. In the email, Wall refers to the event in the past tense even though it did not occur until the following week. Hmm… It seems Wall might be some kind of time traveler. Or… This Midnight Sun article goes into detail about it.
Wellpath ain’t wasting no time getting to work.
During a confirmation hearing in the House State Affairs Committee this week for General Torrence Saxe, Governor Dunleavy’s pick for Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, a man who served with Saxe called in during public testimony who REALLY likes Saxe. At the end of his testimony, he added that Saxe is “from the future.” Awesome. I hope someone talks that way about me one day.
General Saxe is having a confirmation hearing at the House State Affairs cmte for head of DMVA. Some guy he served with called to testify. Dude REALLY likes Saxe! Definitely man crush level. He also said about Saxe “He is from the future.” Next level awesome testimony. #akleg
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) March 6, 2019
Ed King, Alaska’s Chief Economist, had a rough week. He appeared before the House and Senate Finance Committees. In case you missed it, King and his fellow testifers, Budget Director and self identifying Alaskan Donna Arduin and Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman, faced a litany of questions from legislators about the impacts of Dunleavy’s proposed budget on the economy. Many of which went unanswered. It got pretty loose. At least King recognizes how it went.
I am sorry that expectations were not met by my presentation and that there isn't an easy way to solve this problem. I know that a lot of my comments sounded snarky, and for that I am sorry. I will do what I can to be as helpful as possible.
— Ed King (@KingEconomics) March 9, 2019
This week Congressman Don Young (R – Alaska) became the longest serving Republican member of the House of Representatives. He overtook former Speaker Joe Cannon, who has a House Office Building named after him. Cannon served from 1873-1923. He was born in 1836. Damn, Congrats, Congressman Young. You are a living legend.
Also, this happened. Can we start calling it the Alaska #HighEnergy Gasline? I think that will help get it going.
Sources reporting that the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, @ExxonMobil_AK, and @BP_Alaska have signed an agreement to cooperate on #AKLNG. It will focus on FERC, making the project more competitive. This could be very #highenergy! More info to follow as we get it. #akleg
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) March 7, 2019
In case you missed Wendy Wednesday this week.
Ballots go out in the mail this week for the upcoming Anchorage Municipal election. It will be the second vote-by-mail election in Anchorage but the first one for Assembly candidates. Last year’s election was only for mayor and school board. Anchorage folks, remember to vote!
Check out part of an email from Landmine favorite Michael Chambers. He’s reactivating the group United for Liberty to support Governor Dunleavy’s agenda. He claims to be working on behalf of Dunleavy advisor Brett Huber and Deputy Chief of Staff Amy Demboksi. Huber told me Chambers was at some meetings he spoke at but, “I have no control of what Michael says.” A call and text message to Demboski went unanswered. Several sources tell me she has been working with Chambers. Very loose. Looks like Chambers has been watching the Matrix lately. #Oracle. Can I speak at one of the sessions, Michael? Or do I need to join a cult first? What do I need to do to be considered an oracle? I really want this. The best part is the response by @CuckflakeLibtrd. Cool handle, bro.
The names of all these crack pot “liberty” groups remind me of the new names of African nations after a dictator takes over. Whatever superlatives they use, just assume the opposite.
— Vanilla Labrador (@CuckflakeLibtrd) March 8, 2019
Nothing to see here, folks. Notice the backwards Q. Lovely.
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) March 8, 2019
If you missed the epic shouting match between members of the Matanuska-Susitna School Board this week, you NEED to watch it. Here it is, start at 42 minutes. Board President Donna Dearman goes on the record about fellow board member, Richard “Ole” Larson, regarding what he said at a recent board meeting about a conversation they had about committee assignments. Ole gets real loose and starts yelling at her. At one point she slams down the gavel! You may recall Ole is the guy who went full viglinate a few years ago and shot a guy crossing his property who was trying to escape arrest. Ole also serves on the parole board. Only in Alaska. Here is the article about it.
This Week’s Loose Unit
This was a tough week. To say there were many deserving candidates would be an understatement. Between the ghost hunter guy, Trevor Shaw having issues with reality, and the shouting match from the vigilante on the Mat-Su School Board, it was difficult to choose. But something that happened early in the week that solidified this week’s designee. This week’s Loose Unit is Kelly Tshibaka, with honorable mentions going to Mary Ann Pruitt, Representative Lance Pruitt (R – Anchorage), and Suzanne Downing. Tshibaka is Dunleavy’s second pick as Commissioner for the Department of Administration (DOA). Ironically, his first pick, Jonathan Quick, was the Loose Unit for the last week of January.
If you did not hear, during a House State Affairs Committee confirmation hearing, Tshibaka accused Representative Zack Fields (D – Anchorage), who chairs the Committee, of violating her constitutional civil rights. Very loose! This article explains what went down:
It stemmed from a meeting Tshibaka had with Fields, and staff, about her hearing. She said Fields applied a religious test for asking if her views on homosexuality would have an impact on treating State workers fairly. As DOA Commissioner, Tshibaka sets personnel and healthcare policy for State employees. She has talked about her religion and relationship with God at all of her confirmation hearings, including in her opening statement in this one. In 2002, she wrote this for the Harvard Law Record, The Right Side: Coming out of Homosexuality. Basically it’s the opposite of National Coming Out Day. Cool story.
It is not unreasonable to ask her if her views on homosexuality could impact her job. In fact, Dunleavy’s pick for Attorney General, Kevin Clarkson, has faced similar questions about his past law work. He answered them. He did not go full Loose Unit and accuse members of the legislature of violating his civil rights. Fields said he was satisfied with the answer she gave at the meeting. He said she raised no concerns at the meeting or after. Classic Loose Unit for a commissioner to go off at a confirmation hearing.
What happened next was even more loose. It shows the whole thing was likely a coordinated stunt. Not long after the hearing, Alaska Republican Party and Dunleavy propagandist Suzanne Downing had an article up accusing Fields of discriminating against her because she is a Christian. Loose! Then the next day, Lance Pruitt, husband of Dunleavy’s Communication Director Mary Ann Pruitt ($185,000 salary), gave a special order on the House floor about the whole thing. So loose. With this bizarre stunt, Tshibaka went from a shoo-in to actually having a fight for her confirmation. Very loose!
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 [email protected]