No, That’s Don Young’s Chair — This week a new congress was sworn in, and there is some learnin’ for the newbies to do, particularly when it comes to Congressman-For-All-Alaska Don Young. A New York Times piece on the first day of class for new Congressmen included this:
“Navigating the labyrinthine Capitol complex is difficult enough. But some House newbies also learned their way around the floor on Tuesday — specifically, which seat belongs to Representative Don Young of Alaska, currently the longest-serving House Republican.”
“There are people that are instructing: ‘No, that’s Don Young’s chair. You don’t want to sit there, ever,’” Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said with a chuckle. “He hunts bears for fun, so don’t get in his way.”
I don’t think I’m the only one who likes that they are a bit afraid of our boy on The Hill. Alaskans wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fantasy Warning — Speaking of afraid, I’ve spoken to four different elected folks and one or two staffers who are scared to join Patrick Race’s fantasy league of Alaska politics. It seems the only thing rarer than sustainable revenue in Juneau these days is a willingness to let the Juneaurazzi™ find out what they really think of one another.
If you don’t have that problem, you can still sign up for the game here. The deadline is Sunday.
Job Hunting — There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about the number of jobs disappearing in Alaska. Not to worry, the Alaska Democratic Party is hiring. According to an official announcement on their page they are looking for a Finance Director (fundraiser) and an Operations Coordinator (front desk). So if you are a big lefty and want to be involved, here’s your chance.
If you are interested in the finance post, you better hurry, today is the application deadline.
It’s True — The Midnight Sun broke the story earlier this week about KTUU’s Mallory (Walser) Peebles signing on to be the new press secretary for State House Republicans. Minority Leader Charisse Millett also said she had first offered the job to and been rebuffed by former radio talker Dan Fagan. I didn’t report it because I thought it was a joke. Turns out, nope, she was serious. Seriously.
Days Until The Next State Election — 670
Days Until Muni Election — 88
Also On The Cutting Room Floor — Millett was also overheard this week saying, “I’m going to be the new Les Gara. Dan Saddler is going to be the new Les Gara.” Relax conservatives, this wasn’t a declaration of Millett or Saddler suddenly shifting to the liberal dark side. It was just Millett’s way of saying she and Saddler will be just as aggressive in seeking out media attention as Gara was when he was an unavoidable-for-comment member of the minority.
Liberals Getting Off The Floor — A group called Alliance for Healthcare Security is launching another tv ad in several states, including Alaska, trying to save the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ad starts running today and states:
“If Congress repeals healthcare, 30 million Americans will lose their insurance and coverage for all of us will be at risk.”
What I’m hearing out of D.C., and this ad is a good indication of it, is the Left is starting to pick itself up off the floor after Trump’s surprise win in November. Expect to see more fight from them on issues like the ACA repeal going forward.
UAA In The Game — While we are on the subject of the ACA, a group claiming to represent UAA students and faculty has sprung up to fight repeal. You can read their press release here, and if you want to join or support their efforts you can sign their online petition here.
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.
Legacy — It looks like conservatives have found themselves a quality candidate for the West Anchorage Assembly seat. Sara Rasmusson had been all set to run for Anchorage School Board, but last week switched her APOC paperwork and Facebook campaign page to reflect a run for Assembly.
I hear Rasmusson is the granddaughter of current Midtown Assembly candidate and self-professed Father-of-the-Tax-Cap Don Smith. Both running for Assembly at the same time is a feel-good storyline we’ll likely hear more about as the race goes on.
Downtown — The Downtown Assembly race has also gotten a little more interesting with Chris Cox filing his paperwork with APOC to run. I don’t know Cox, but a reader sent me this pic of his house.
I am going to go ahead and say he is a conservative leaning candidate. It may seem a bit quixotic for a rightie to run in the uber-liberal Downtown district, but remember there are already two lefties, Chris Constant and David Dunsmore, running. So long as that dynamic persists there is a theoretical path to victory for a right-leaning candidate.
From The Valley — You may have seen a story yesterday about congressional Republicans reinstating a procedural rule allowing them to try to cut the salary of specific federal employees to $1.
So we’re going to let politicians target individual employees they have personal beefs with? You may think that seems crazy, or at the very least it’s troubling public policy. I know I did. But you’re probably also seeking comfort in the idea that is a Washington, D.C. thing, not something we have to worry about in Alaska. Not so fast.
Not so fast.
State Senator-elect David Wilson said this at a legislative town hall in Palmer on Wednesday night:
“I was telling one of my staffers this morning that I’m going to get a lot of defamation lawsuits going out because I’m going to personally target some individuals that need to leave state government.”
Perhaps Wilson is unfamiliar with the whole hornet’s nest of trouble Gov. Sarah Palin got in when she tried to “personally target” a state employee, who just happened to be her Alaska State Trooper brother-in-law.
Appointment Listening — Join the throngs of The Midnight Sun The Podcast listeners who wait eagerly for the latest episode to drop every Sunday morning. If you aren’t already addicted you soon will be. This week Forrest Dunbar and I are joined by incoming House Rules Chair Gabrielle LeDoux.
Fine Then — Things just seem to keep getting worse for outgoing Rep. Liz Vazquez. First, she lost her seat in the legislature in November, then this week she received a letter from APOC staff saying her repeated violations of campaign finance laws and unwillingness to address them when APOC staff told her about them back in March of 2015 have allowed civil fines to accrue in the amount of… wait for it… $1.2 MILLION!
The report reads like a guidebook on how to mess up a candidate’s APOC report. She accepted corporate contributions, didn’t report about $3,000 in donations, didn’t report another $4,000 in expenditures and didn’t fix those and other issues when APOC contacted her after routine audits revealed those and other errors.
Luckily for Vazquez, APOC staff recognizes a $1.2 million fine is insane, even given her alleged persistent malfeasance, so they are recommending a 99% reduction of the fine down to $12,058.
That is still a hefty fine, but just imagine what happens if commission members decide to send a message by only reducing the fine by 95%. That would leave Vazquez with a whopping $60K fine. But that is still better than $1.2 million.
Political Fly Into The Sun — If you have morsels you’d like shared in this column, please email us at [email protected].
Here are just some of the other events you can find on our Political Calendar —
What: Campaign kickoff for Albert Fogle for Anchorage Assembly
When: Monday, January 9, 5:30-7 pm
Where: Petroleum Club, 3301 C st, Anchorage
Event Link: Click here
2017 Alaska Inaugural Gala
(click on image for more info)
(click on image for more info)