AKLEG Day 16: Conspiracy theory-tweeting UA regent appointee withdraws

Just 73 days left.

“A perfectly qualified candidate”

Another appointee of Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy is out. This time it’s University of Alaska Board of Regents appointee Tammy Randolph, whose conspiracy theory-peddling, MAGA meme-ing Twitter account came to light late last week. After issuing an apology for the account—including a not-so-complete dismissal of the Pizzagate-backing, pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory—Randolph officially withdrew her name from consideration on Wednesday afternoon, according to a report from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Randolph, a North Pole insurance agent, is the daughter-in-law of Dunleavy’s constitutional reform adviser Dick Randolph.

Like the resignation letter of Department of Administration Commissioner John Quick last week, Randolph said she didn’t want her nomination to be a distraction. Quick resigned after a former boss wrote the Senate accusing him of lying on his resume and in his testimony to a Senate committee.

“With this letter I formally withdraw my name from consideration for appointment to the University of Alaska Board of Regents,” Randolph wrote, according to the News-Miner. “I have the utmost respect for the institution and its mission, and I no longer wish to distract from its pressing business.

“I am grateful for the honor you bestowed on me by forwarding my name for this position of distinction. After much consideration and reflection today, I have decided that my priorities at this point in my life — my family and my businesses in Fairbanks — must take precedence.”

Screenshots from Randolph’s Twitter account, which has since been deleted, circulated on Friday and included memes suggesting Michelle Obama was a man, made light of the accusations brought by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and others that drew accusations of racism and misogyny.

In a statement also provided to the News-Miner, the Dunleavy administration stood by Randolph’s appointment without referencing her activity on social media.

“This administration felt Tammy Randolph was a perfectly qualified candidate — a very intelligent and successful business person — that would have brought a wealth of knowledge and perspective to the University of Alaska System and the UA Board of Regents. Governor Dunleavy wholeheartedly stands by her appointment, but also stands by her decision to withdraw her name from consideration and return to her family and thriving business,” said Press Secretary Matt Shuckerow told the News-Miner.

“A horrible idea”

Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy didn’t shy away from the purpose of the three constitutional amendments he rolled out on Wednesday (the spending cap, that all taxes must be voted on by the people and the Legislature, and enshrining the PFD): It’s to limit the power of the Legislature (and perhaps boost the power of the already-powerful governor).

“We are limiting the Legislature,” he said. “That’s the purpose of the Constitution.”

It’ll be a tough ask when the amendments require a two-thirds vote of the each chamber of the Legislature to be put on the ballot (27 votes in the House and 14 in the Senate).

“I have a feeling that it’s going to be very difficult to get the higher majority, the two-thirds majority vote, to get it through both bodies this session,” North Pole Sen. John Coghill said in a meeting with reporters, according to the Juneau Empire. “That gives us two years to look at it and probably have an engaged conversation both with the governor and with the rest of the people in Alaska.”

Coghill, the Senate’s Rules Committee chair, also penned an editorial last year outlining why putting the permanent fund dividend in the Alaska Constitution was a bad idea. Back then, however, the proposal was put forward by Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski.

The amendments taken as a whole are somewhat similar to the Colorado’s constitutional amendments known as the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. It’s certainly worth a deep dive, particularly when Dunleavy pointed to it as an example of a booming economy, but we have a quick rundown of one of the impacts of the restrictive rules have had for the Colorado Legislature: More fees and budgeting tricks.

Still, if you need any other take on how the amendments are being received, look no further than the comments Sen. Gary Stevens had for KTOO.

“A horrible idea.”

Private prisons

Former Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Carmen Gutierrez put the simmering concerns about the push to privatize Alaska’s prisons and eliminate rehabilitative services into crystal clear words in an editorial published with the Anchorage Daily News.

As it’s been mentioned before, Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin previously worked as a lobbyist for the notorious GEO Group, which has been blamed for driving corrections policy in a direction that maximizes profits, and the possibility of privatizing prisons has already been floated by Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom.

Gutierrez specifically warns that privatizing prisons goes hand in hand with the push to roll back the rehabilitative elements of criminal justice reform—which is pretty much what Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy is proposing with his proposed rollbacks of Senate Bill 91. The administration, as she points out, has already turned away big federal money for rehabilitation services.

“Privatizing DOC operations will have significant untended negative consequences,” she writes. “The first priority for any for-profit prisons is to make money. The more people incarcerated, the larger the profits. This eliminates any incentive to implement rehabilitative programs to reduce crime and improve public safety.”


The Senate Majority’s traditional start-of-session poll is out today and, as usual, it appears to have more or less backfired against the historically cuts-focused Republican caucus. It shows a majority of people think K-12 school funding is too low and that a majority of respondents oppose Pebble Mine, for example.

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