Perhaps in a sign that the administration actually does believe in rehabilitation, Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Amanda Price on Thursday endorsed a candidate with an assault conviction over a former cop in the Republican primary for a South Anchorage House seat.
In a Facebook post where she endorsed several challengers over Republican opponents, Price suggested Rep. Chuck Kopp, who has a lengthy career in public safety, doesn’t really support police and that challenger Tom McKay, who has a 2002 misdemeanor assault conviction, does.
“We all have priority issues, mine is public safety,” wrote the commissioner who has no experience in law enforcement. “As such, I will encourage my neighbors who value public safety and SUPPORT law enforcement (particularly our Alaska State Troopers) to give their vote to Tom McKay. Given the times we are in, a candidate that supports police in actions and not just words is more important than ever.”
And before you start saying “Why is a commissioner endorsing anyone? That seems so inappropriate,” Price had this to say:
“And for those who are going to try and attack me for this, I’m on full personal leave today and this is my personal page—the opinion above is mine alone, reflects my thoughts for leadership for the district in which I live, and represents no entity I am affiliated with.”
According to court documents, McKay pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in 2002 for an incident that took place “at or near Sullivan Arena” by “intentionally or recklessly using for or violence” against another person. The records say it was not a case of domestic violence.
McKay was fined $300, was placed on probation for one year, and ordered to have no contact with the victim of the assault, according to the documents.
Also in 2002, Kopp had just made Chief of Police in the city of Kenai after working there as an officer since 1989. For his work, Kopp recently got the endorsement of several public safety unions and his work was highlighted in a radio ad voiced by former Republican state Sen. Fred Dyson.
“He investigated and solved three cold case murders where there were no victim’s bodies found and one of the perpetrators claimed to have 60 victims,” Dyson says in the ad by Alaskans for Public Safety, an independent expenditure group backed by Anchorage police and firefighter unions. “Later Chuck took on a major Alaska drug distribution network and successfully broke them up by rolling distributors and smugglers to get information to put the drug dealers in jail for long sentences.”
More damning, though, is that Kopp joined the bipartisan House majority this last session, which frequently refused to give a rubberstamp to the worst of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s first two years in office. The crime of not toeing the party line is apparently graver than an assault conviction.
Other “moderate” Republicans also are in Price’s sights. She also endorsed Roger Holland over Senate President Cathy Giessel and James Kaufman over Rep. Jennifer Johnston (Johnson, according to Price). She rakes Giessel for refusing to confirm Rep. Laddie Shaw to the Senate (Shaw was integral in confirming Price, by the way).
Price faced stiff opposition to her confirmation in 2019 with many citing her lack of law enforcement and, at best, questionable track record while working for Gov. Bill Walker as reasons to oppose her. Gov. Mike Dunleavy used public money to run a campaign in support of Price. The Senate was split 10-10 on her confirmation (Giessel voted against her) while the House sealed her confirmation with a 23-15 vote.
Rep. Kopp voted to confirm her, as did Rep. Johnston.
Also on Thursday evening, Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner and Anchorage mom with a petition Kelly Tshibaka, according to a report by KINY Radio, sent an email to state employees reminding them that state resources are prohibited from being put to political purposes.