Friday in the Sun!!! (March 3)

 

The Sinister Filings — This week Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council warned his followers of certain bills he says aren’t just bad, he labeled them “sinister.” Here’s what Minnery had to say about them:

HB 25 and SB 53

“Sinister: Anticipating the coming demise of Obamacare, liberal Democrats in states across the country are rushing to take pieces of this decomposing federal law and graft it into state law. Alaska is no exception to this trend. Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage) and Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) have sponsored HB 25 and SB 53, which seek to impose a health care mandate in state law that is largely copied from the misnamed Obamacare ‘contraceptive’ mandate – misnamed because it doesn’t just include contraceptives, but also includes abortifacient drugs or devices, such as ulipristal and IUDs, that cause early abortions.”

HB 54

“Definitely in the ‘sinister’ category: Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) has once again filed her bill to allow doctors to help kill their patients by purposefully prescribing a lethal dose of drugs.”  

Dems On Their Game — With new Executive Director Jay Parmley and Communication Director Katie Bruggeman now fully on board, the Alaska Democratic Party is really stepping up its social media and email blast game.

That includes a mass email late this week with state party chair Casey Steinau calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign, saying:

As Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, I’m standing with Alaskans and beside national leaders in calling for Sessions’ resignation.  It is ridiculous to think that this man, who lied under oath, is responsible for running our nation’s Department of Justice, the very institution that would be responsible for investigating Trump’s potentially improper and illegal relationship with Russia during the presidential election.”

I’m not sure how much weight the Alaska Democratic Party Chair’s opinion is going to have on Trump, but still, the Democrats are signaling the new party staff is going to be much more active in messaging their side of every story.

Midnight Sun On The Air!!!! Master of Morning Radio Rick Rydell (AM 650 KENI) has asked us to come on every week and share Friday in the Sun with his audience. So listen for our inside scoop every Friday morning at 7:35.

Awkward Quote Of The Week — You don’t often see a press release featuring a sitting elected official saying they are actively trying to not give their constituents what they want, but in a House Minoroty press release just last night, that’s exactly what someone quoted Rep. George Rauscher as saying:

“Public involvement is crucial,” says Representative George Rauscher (R-Sutton). “Given the current fiscal restraints, it is important that Alaskans share their thoughts so we can have the government we can afford, and not the government we want.”

Eye Wars Heating Up — Word out of the Capitol is that Tuesday a loud conversation/debate/screaming match could be heard coming from a fourth-floor office between lobbyist Jerry Mackie, lobbyist Frank Bickford, and one of Bickford’s clients, Carl Rosen, MD.

The three were apparently not seeing eye to eye on the latest round of bills that would allow optometrists to start offering services state law currently requires an ophthalmologist to perform. I’m told the conversation became so heated a number of staffers began trying to listen in from outside the door trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.

Days Until The Next State Election613
Days Until Muni Election32

Constantly On The Move — Seriously, how great is it we have a legit candidate for office named “Constant”? The headlines and blurb titles just write themselves.

Anyway, it looks like even though Downtown Assembly candidate Chris Constant has a real progressive opponent in David Dunsmore, he continues to lock down almost all the institutional progressive support. This week he added endorsements from the Central Labor Council and Anchorage Police Department Employees Association (APDEA) to his already formidable list of lefty support.

Appointment Listening — Sadly, there will be no The Midnight Sun The Podcast this week. I am out of state traveling and Forrest Dunbar has National Guard duty. Rest assured, we will be back next week with another edition of the most popular political podcast in Alaska.

Alaska GOP Fretting — Last week the Alaska GOP held its quarterly State Central Committee (SCC) meeting in Juneau, and from what I hear the substance of one of our pieces was quite the topic of conversation. The article was about how the most likely path to reelection for Governor Bill Walker might be straight through the Alaska GOP primary.

Apparently, the thought was so jarring to many top GOP officials that they are hatching a contingency plan to combat it. That plan includes changing party rules to allow Chairman Tuckerman Babcock and other party staff and officers to actively and openly work against a candidate in the GOP gubernatorial primary, as well as letting the party spend its money to that end.

The idea, I’m told, is to endorse and assist all other primary candidates at the same level, but not Walker, in the hopes that signals to primary voters who not to vote for.

That Is How They Do It In Ohio — Remember the Ohio-based company RPM International? It’s the company run by Sen. Dan Sullivan’s brother Frank Sullivan and also the one whose employees poured tens of thousands of dollars into the Senator’s campaign. Oh, and the one that Sen. Sullivan reportedly owns stock in.

Well, according to Reuters, Sullivan’s family company a few years ago also used bankruptcy laws in an effort to avoid thousands of lawsuits over one of its now bankrupt subsidiary company’s use of asbestos in its products. According to the story, the asbestos claims were so large that RPM’s insurers claimed exhaustion and stopped paying for them. That left the company on the hook for any additional costs.

Glass HousesSen. Kevin Meyer is going after Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux for her use of a personal PAC that can raise significant amounts of money from lobbyists, and he’s introduced Senate Bill 5 to stop it.

He told the Juneau Empire, “What we don’t want is for people to have a Paypal or credit card machine during session and the lobbyist slides their credit card through before coming into the office,” he said. “They could legally do (that) now.”

And he told KTUU he did it because, “We don’t want to give off the appearance anyway, the perception that your state government is not being ethical.”

It’s odd that Meyer is so concerned with lobbyists potentially paying for access to political opponents but has little trouble with at least the appearance they are doing it with him and his staff.

The latest APOC reports show that Meyer’s own Chief of Staff Suzanne Cunningham was paid $4,000 by the Alaska Republican Party from largely lobbyist raised money to do campaign work last fall while still serving as the Senate President’s COS.  

Cunningham says she did the work on her own time, not while on the clock with the state, and there’s no reason to doubt her. In fact, there is nothing about that activity that is either illegal or prohibited by legislative ethics rules.  

That activity, though, taken along with an ADN story detailing pricey meals lobbyists bought for Meyer and his staff, makes me wonder if Meyer is really the right guy to be complaining about a close relationship between LeDoux and lobbyists when those same lobbyists are literally putting thousands in his staff’s pockets and food in their mouths.  

Political Fly Into The Sun — If you have morsels you’d like shared in this column, please email us at mnsunak@gmail.com.

 

About the Author

Casey Reynolds
Reynolds served as communications director for the Alaska Republican Party from 2008-2011. He left the Party in 2011 to host his own popular morning radio political talk show on AM750 / FM103.7 KFQD. Reynolds now runs The Midnight Sun (midnightsunak.com), crowned by the Anchorage Press as “Alaska’s best political blog.”