Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier has resigned after he was caught on tape bragging about essentially buying influence with Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Republican state legislators, Trump administration regulators and Alaska’s congressional delegation.
In the tapes, which were recorded by investigators from an environmental group posing as potential investors and released Monday, Collier and Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen touted their work as a financial boosters for Dunleavy and several Republican legislative candidates that has translated into easy access to the administration, to regulators and to the White House.
“The governor I count as a friend. I did in my home the largest private fundraiser for the governor when he was running for office and it’s not unusual for the governor to call me,” Collier said on one tape. “I’ve flown down to Juneau where the governor’s mansion is and had private dinners with him in the mansion. So, the governor and I are pretty good friends.”
Collier also takes credit for a wave of recent primary defeats of incumbent Republican legislators who he said were not supportive of Pebble Mine or the governor.
“We threw out nine people who had not been supporting the governor and had not been supporting Pebble,” he said. “It’s gonna make a dramatic change in the Alaska Legislature, and I was a leader in that effort.”
The statement announcing Collier’s resignation was issued by the Pebble Partnership’s parent company Northern Dynasty Minerals and says Collier’s statements “embellished both his and the Pebble Partnership’s relationships with elected officials.” The statement adds that the company “unreservedly apologizes to Alaskans.”
Gov. Dunleavy—whose cozy relationship with Pebble started to come into focus last year when investigations found he was being coached by Pebble to petition the White House—denied the claims on Tuesday, issuing a prepared statement claiming that Collier and others “embellished their relationships with state and federal officials at all levels.”
Thiessen, who bragged about using Dunleavy to lobby the White House, also issued an apology.
“The unethical manner in which these tapes were acquired does not excuse the comments that were made, or the crass way they were expressed,” said Ron Thiessen, Northern Dynasty President & CEO. “On behalf of the Company and our employees, I offer my unreserved apology to all those who were hurt or offended, and all Alaskans.”
Former Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively was announced to take over for Collier.
Though Shively did not personally appear on the Pebble Tapes, he was mentioned in relation to U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. Collier noted that Shively was renting an apartment from Sullivan’s state coordinator and had an inside line that Sullivan is “gonna try to ride out the election and be quiet.”