Alaska Democratic Party Chair on Alaska’s United States Senators Split Decision On Protecting Alaskans

Anchorage:  Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau said, “ We thank Senator Murkowski for listening to the voices of all Alaskans and voting no to move forward with the debate to repeal Obamacare.  Simply put, Senator Sullivan didn’t protect Alaskans.  Today he voted for 62,000 Alaskans to lose their healthcare and the elimination of 2,702 Alaska jobs. His vote today was a vote for 100 percent higher insurance rates.  Senator Sullivan is seemingly unwilling to do what is best for Alaska and continues to pander to the far right of the Republican Party, unconcerned if people live or die.”

Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau’s Statement on the Failure of the Alaska GOP Senate Majority to Pass a Budget

"The Alaska Senate Republican Majority adjourned today, the final day of a 30-day special session without allowing for debate or voting on the budget that passed that Alaska House of Representatives last night.  The Alaska GOP Senate Majority is the reason Alaska still hasn’t passed a budget putting our state employees and teachers at risk.  The Democratic-led House Majority since last November has set forth a plan to adopt a comprehensive fiscal plan for Alaska and their budget fully funded public education.  The House Majority hasn’t varied from this mission.  Unfortunately, the GOP Senate Majority has been unwilling to negotiate or even allow a vote on the budget and today they have failed to meet their constitutional obligation and left Alaska’s economic future in peril.”

Governor Walkers’s Nominee for Human Rights Commission Voted Down, Mainly on Party Lines

After a fraught and challenging first session of the 30th Legislature faced with historic revenue shortfalls and an almost $3 billion deficit, Governor Walker’s nominees for Boards and Commissions were finally heard in a joint floor proceeding by the House and Senate yesterday.  This series of votes came at the tail end of the constitutionally-allowed 121 day session, following postponement of a vote last month by the Senate Majority that offered little explanation as to the delay.

These votes, which should not be political in nature, have in recent years been weaponized by Republicans in the state House and Senate.  Surprisingly this year, after hours of floor debate that seemed to suggest otherwise, almost all—97 of 98— of the Governor’s nominees were confirmed by both bodies.  The sole nominee voted down was Pastor Drew Phoenix, a highly qualified candidate that was the subject of attack by Jim Minnnery’s far-right Alaska Family Action group.

Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau supported the Governor's choice of Phoenix and is tremendously disappointed that this nominee for the Human Rights Commission was voted down by a 25 – 34 vote yesterday.  “For so many of us in Alaska, Drew was the perfect nominee for this position—his past career experience coupled with his education and support in the community ought to have resulted in a unanimous vote by the legislature. However, simply because he is a transgender individual, fear and hatred skewed the process and resulted in a rejection of a nominee that we were, frankly, lucky to have in the first place.”

Other nominees whose confirmation votes were held up due to political reasons—Jahna Lindemuth for AG, Andy Mack for Natural Resources Commissioner, and former State Senator Hollis French for AOGCC—were all confirmed after a 4.5 hour debate on the floor. 

ADP Executive Director Jay Parmley reminds us that this is why elections are so important.  “When Alaskans vote for their legislators they expect them to consider the Governor’s appointees based on experience and credentials.  This is not the place for political grandstanding.  The actions of the legislature in rejecting the nomination of Drew Phoenix only further divides us and robs us of a greater conversation about human rights.”

For more information, please contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-570-4523.

Alaska House Legislature Censures Representative David Eastman Following a Pattern of Racist Verbal Attacks on Rural Alaskans

Today during a floor session of the legislature, in historic action, Representative David Eastman was censured by his peers in the State House following his insensitive and bigoted attacks against Alaska Native women in rural areas across the state.  Censure is a procedural measure that issues a formal reprimand for failure to uphold the dignity of elected office. 

Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau thanks Representative Ivy Spohnholz for introducing today’s action. She also applauds the other members of the Democratic-Led Majority caucus who joined in voting for censure, as well as the three Republican legislators who broke with their Party and also voted to censure Rep. Eastman.

“It was simply unacceptable that Rep. Eastman made such horrible, insensitive, and racist statements against Alaska women, let alone his refusal to offer a sincere apology after many individuals and groups have asked him to do so,” said Steinau.  “This type of behavior is unacceptable, and I am proud of the State House for standing up against such hatred and bigotry.”

For further comment please contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-570-4523.

Official ADP Statement on Trumpcare 2.0’s Passage in the US House

Party Chair Casey Steinau states, “We're disappointed, but not surprised, that the Republican-controlled House voted in favor of this corporate welfare tax giveaway masquerading as a health care bill.  Looking at American political history, this is one of the biggest transfers of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy elite.  This bill passed with a yes vote from Representative Don Young, who showed where his true allegiances lie:  with the insurance industry and millionaires, not Alaska families.

“Nonpartisan analysts as well as the American Medical Association, AARP, and many other advocacy groups have all said that Alaskans will suffer disproportionally under Trumpcare 2.0.   We call on the US Senate, and Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, to do the right thing, stand up for Alaskans, and reject this proposal once and for all.”

For more information, contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-570-4523.

Will Congressman Don Young Put Loyalty to Trump & Ryan Above Health Care Access for Alaskans?

This week, Republicans in Congress are trying to force another vote on their disastrous health care bill, a.k.a. TrumpCare 2.0, which would take health care away from 24 million Americans and raise premiums on older Americans.

Congressman Don Young still isn’t quite sure where he stands, even telling a HuffPost reporter last week that he’s “all over the place on health care”.

The first time Republicans in Congress tried to push this bill through, the bill had a dismal 17 percent approval from the public, it was opposed by non-partisan groups like the American Medical Association and AARP, and Republicans couldn’t get enough votes from their own caucus to pass it.

Now they took a bad bill and made it worse. In order to appease the most right-wing members of their caucus, Republicans changed the bill to allow states to opt out of protecting Americans who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, asthma, and others.

The bill is still opposed by health groups, and 70 percent of Americans oppose the GOP’s newest scheme to allow states to opt out of protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau calls on Congressman Young to make the right decision.  “Republicans in Congress took a bill that raises health care costs and made it worse, and Alaska will suffer disproportionately under this new proposal. It was bad enough that Republicans were ready to take health care away from 24 million and raise premiums on older Americans – now they want to threaten coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. The question remains: will Congressman Young put his loyalty to Donald Trump and Paul Ryan before Alaskans’ health care?”

For more information, contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-570-4523.

The Trump Train Has Gone Off the Tracks, Caught on Fire, and Is Now Smoldering in a Ditch: His First 100 Days in Office

As of today, April 29th, Donald Trump will have served 100 days as President of the United States.  It has been surreal, to say the least.

Last week at a rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Trump told the crowd “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.”  (He also mentioned that Wisconsin is on the Canadian border, which would be disputed by every 3rd grader in America.)  His Administration has accomplished many things, but none of them have been positive.  In fact, it’s been a downright train wreck.

While chugging down the campaign trail, Donald Trump offered a series of bigoted, unrealistic proposals to an electorate that was divided and distracted by his noisy rhetoric.  Now 100 days into his Administration, the country has been thrown into a chaotic tailspin of false information, FBI investigations, bogus wiretapping claims, political flip-flops on everything from China as a currency manipulator to Mexico paying for “The Wall”, financial self-dealing, historically low approval ratings, and a possible government shutdown.  Up next:  a possible war with North Korea and a tax reform bill that will reduce revenue by $2 trillion over the next ten years while providing massive tax breaks to billionaires and corporations.

On top of the sheer incompetence of this Administration, it is also riddled with dishonesty and chaos.  “Trump lied his way into the White House, so it’s no surprise that his first 100 days have been filled with broken promises to the American people,” said Casey Steinau, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party. “He lied about draining the swamp, delivering better health care, fighting for working Americans, and proposing infrastructure projects. Instead, he’s gone out of his way to hurt hardworking American families by trying to take away health care, making it harder to buy a home or pay back college loans, and proposed cutting services to pay for tax cuts for the rich. If Americans want their government to focus on an agenda that actually works for middle-class and working people – we need to resist Trump and elect a lot more Democrats.”

Executive Director Jay Parmley agrees.  “In President Trump’s first 100 days, he has not only failed to improve life for America’s working families; he has made things worse. He campaigned like an anti-establishment populist, but he has governed from the hard-right, giving sweetheart deals to the special interests and making the middle class—and those trying to get there—pay for it. President Trump has broken his promises on the economy, on health care, on draining the swamp, and has proposed a budget that fundamentally breaks his promise to improve the lives of millions of Americans. Combined with his administration’s many blunders, President Trump has spent his first 100 days hurting families across the country.”

Clearly the Trump train has jumped the tracks and is smoldering in a ditch somewhere in Middle America.  Hopefully America will elect more Democrats to Congress in 2018 and begin to salvage our government from the wreckage of this disastrous Administration.

For more information, contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-570-4523.

Statement by ADP on House and Senate Republicans’ Refusal to Vote on Governor’s Nominees

While the clock is ticking down on the extended regular session and with a mile long to-do list, House and Senate Republicans refuse to do their jobs in consideration of Governor Walker’s appointments to boards, commissions, and key administration posts.  

Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau is disappointed but not surprised. “These Republican lawmakers’ are acting with nothing more than arrogance and entitlement by failing to conduct joint sessions in consideration and roll call votes on the nominees.  Here’s the deal:  while these politicians hold hostage Governor Walker’s appointments, important state business is being put on hold.  They might think that it’s politically beneficial to block the Governor’s efforts to be an effective leader, but the voters are not buying it.”  

Executive Director Jay Parmley agrees.  “I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat:  if the people elect you to be a leader in the legislature, you do your job, period.  You don’t sit around down here and collect per diem on the state’s dime while wasting the time of hardworking Alaskans.”

For further comment contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-258-3050.

President Trump’s Proposed Federal Budget Would Be a Disaster for Alaska

Anchorage- Last week, President Trump released his first federal budget draft to Congress, and it was full of proposals to slash and burn essential federal budget items across the country.  From deep cuts to meals for impoverished elderly in Arizona, to a complete removal of cancer research funding in Washington state, Trump’s budget targets the most vulnerable people in America.  

The budget for fiscal year 2016 proposed by then-President Obama included nearly $8 billion in essential funding for Alaska through contracts, grants, loans, and other types of financial assistance. This is a stark contrast to Donald Trump, who proposes to cut almost all our existing federal funding.  During this time of fiscal chaos on the state level, it is important that we fight to retain this federal investment for crucial programs in Alaska.

It is doubtful that Alaska’s federal delegation will stand up for us and against President Donald Trump, as they have signaled their blind allegiance to him through cabinet nominee confirmation votes and other public statements of loyalty to him and the GOP.  

Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau is particularly disturbed to hear about proposed cuts to our federal investment in areas of environmental and transportation programs.  “Budgets are more than ink on a piece of paper—they outline priorities, and it is clear that Alaska is not a priority for Donald Trump.  Knowing Trump’s proposed budget, it is baffling to me that Republican Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, and Republican Representative Young continue to support the leader of their Party.  His proposed federal budget cuts will destroy our way of life in Alaska, particularly for Alaska Natives and others in rural areas.  

“For starters, Trump plans to eliminate all funding for the Essential Air Service which subsidizes flights in and out of rural Alaska.  Cuts to this program will isolate and abandon people who do not have the benefit of road access and are reliant on travel by small plane.  It is unacceptable that this is even an idea that’s been floated by the Republican party.

“Another devastating proposal would eliminate LIHEAP, a program that helps rural low-income families pay for high heating bills.  Our federal delegation has failed to create infrastructure or jobs in these communities, so the people that live there are dependent on federal funding to help heat their homes.  Without this help, elderly and children will freeze, with literally no other options to assist them.”

Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Jay Parmley says Alaskans are terrified of Trump’s proposed budget.  “Looking at all of the potentially devastating cuts, it’s tough to pinpoint which will be the worst for Alaskans.  But the elimination of the water and wastewater loan program, which will cut almost $500 million in federal money to our villages across the state, will result in wide scale health and safety dangers.  Another huge problem would be cuts to the clean air grants, including $2.5 million in targeted funding for a Fairbanks program that reduces air pollution by paying people to swap out older wood stoves.  Anyone that’s spent time in Fairbanks in the winter understands that it’s insane to cut this program now, when they need it most.

“One thing is certain:  Donald Trump has no idea of the challenges that we face in Alaska.  By looking at the stark contrast between President Obama’s 2016 federal budget proposal and the budget proposed by President Trump, it is clear that the current Administration doesn’t think much of Alaska.”

We call on all Alaskans to reach out to Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, and Representative Don Young, and urge that they fight for us and the essential federal investment that is threatened by President Trump.

For further comment please contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-570-4523.
 

HB 111 Is A Great Start In Digging Alaska Out of our Current Fiscal Crisis

Anchorage- Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau applauds the leadership of Representative Geran Tarr, co-chair of the House Resources Committee and member of the Democrat-led House Majority, on her introduction of HB 111.  This legislation aims to fix a tax scheme that made the State of Alaska responsible for massive corporate welfare payouts to multi-billion-dollar oil companies through the hotly contested SB 21 two years ago. 

“HB 111 is a great start in remedying our current fiscal crisis, and we applaud Rep. Tarr for her leadership,” said Chair Steinau.  “This is especially helpful following two legislative sessions dominated by procrastination and distracting personal legislation by Republicans in the state House and Senate majorities.  We continue to advocate for a responsible and balanced approach to fixing Alaska’s budget crisis. 

“This legislation reopens a dialogue that has been nonstop among Alaskans since the price of oil crashed in 2014.  Due to provisions under SB 21, by the end of the summer, the state will owe over $1 billion in corporate welfare to Big Oil.  These subsidies have not yet been paid due to ongoing budget constraints, but soon it will be time to pay the piper.  If we don’t do something now, the problem will persist and the recession will get worse.

“You might remember that most Republicans in the House and Senate voiced overwhelming support for SB 21, which provided these enormous corporate welfare payouts to Big Oil.  Several Republicans in the House and Senate are employed by, or their spouses are employed by, oil industry corporations:  Senator Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) is a full-time Investment Recovery Coordinator for ConocoPhillips; Peter Micciche (R-Kenai), the Kenai Facility manager for ConocoPhillips, is an influential member of the Senate Resources Committee; and the husband of Senate Resources Chair Cathy Geissel (R-Anchorage) is a contractor with deep ties to the petroleum industry, and disclosure documents state that he earns between $200,000 and $500,000 per year in the industry.  It is no wonder that the SB 21 corporate welfare giveaway sailed through with so many Republican oil industry friends in the state legislature.

“Yet again, this is an example of the differences between the two political parties in Alaska.  Democrats in the legislature will not put corporate greed ahead of everyday, hard-working Alaskans who continue to be asked to do more to tackle our state’s fiscal crisis. Republicans continue to seek huge payouts to their friends in the oil industry.  Perhaps the piper will lead those oil industry rats out of the Capitol building at some point soon.”

For further information, please contact Katie Bruggeman at 258-3050. 

Statement by Party Chair Casey Steinau on Senator Sullivan’s Endorsement of Betsy DeVos

Anchorage- In a press release yesterday, Senator Dan Sullivan offered an unabashed endorsement to Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, assuring his supporters that she will be a knowledgeable and dedicated advocate for Alaska's children. 

“This nominee is wrong for Alaska and wrong for the country,” said Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau.  “We roundly oppose this nominee for many reasons. To start, she is wildly unqualified and has no experience with public schools as a parent, teacher, or student. She lacks the depth of knowledge that is required to navigate through the complex school district systems, grant funded programs, and academic requirements within our nation’s schools across the country.  

 “Additionally, DeVos’ statements reveal that she would disproportionately rely on digital learning as a replacement for teacher-student relationships.  While digital learning can create positive results for some students, it is not a catch-all for our nation’s children.  For example, low income children sometimes benefit from additional help from teachers and teachers’ assistants in the classroom.  We need to ensure that all of our children—not just those at the top of the economic ladder—have the best possible opportunities to learn and grow.

 “Finally, when questioned by a Congressional panel, DeVos voiced utter confusion regarding the IDEA program, which focuses on children with disabilities. Alaskans expect a Secretary of Education who possess basic knowledge of a foundational program designed to help children that experience disabilities.  It is downright worrisome that DeVos could not answer critical questions about the program.

 “While Senator Sullivan is a partisan, I urge him to consider the disastrous ramifications of confirming Betsy DeVos and Alaska Democrats call on him to reconsider his decision for the future of the children of Alaska and our country.”

 For additional information, Communications Director Katie Bruggeman can be reached at 258-3050

Democrats Hire New Executive Director

Anchorage - After a month’s long national search, the Alaska Democratic Party today announced Jay Parmley as the Party’s new Executive Director effective February 1, 2017.

Parmley brings over a decade of experience working with state party organizations.  He served as Chair and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party from 2001-2005, and Executive Director of the South Carolina and North Carolina Democratic Parties.  He led the Democratic National Committee’s efforts for two years on the ground with the Mississippi Democratic Party at the inception of the national committee’s 50 state strategy.  

During the 2016 election cycle, he directed the Alaska Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign working with legislative candidates and campaigns.  Previously he served as director of a political action committee focused on building the Democratic bench in the South.

“We are excited Jay Parmley will join our team.  Jay’s long time commitment to building stronger state parties and working with party activists, donors, candidates, and community leaders is exactly what we need as the Alaska Democratic Party prepares for the 2018 election,” said Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau.  “As we have worked with Jay over the last year, we have seen first-hand his commitment to building a more vibrant grassroots activist base and working with our candidates to run quality campaigns across our state.”

He got his start in Democratic politics in the 1990’s through active participation in the Young Democrats eventually serving as President of the Young Democrats of America. 

Parmley holds a Master of Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma as well as an Associates of Arts in Business Administration from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.

Parmley will replace Kay Brown, who has been serving as the party’s Executive Director since 2011.

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What others say about Jay Parmley

 

“Jay Parmley was one of the best Chairs and Executive Directors Oklahoma Democrats have ever had.  Personable, smart, strategic and successful.”

Governor David Walters

State of Oklahoma, 1991-1995

 

“Jay Parmley engaged Alaskans across the state and was instrumental in Democratic victories across Alaska.  His experience and passion for moving Alaska Democrats forward is what we need to continue our momentum.”

Representative David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks

Alaska House of Representatives

 

"In Jay Parmley, Alaska gets a tough, tactical and strategic professional with a national network, but also with a personality for in-state team-building."

David Parker, Chair

North Carolina Democratic Party, 2011-2013

 

“Without Jay Parmley as Executive Director, I wouldn't have made it through 4 years as SC Democratic Party Chair. He is truly the best party staffer in the country.”

Carol Fowler, Chair

South Carolina Democratic Party, 2007-2011

 

Democrats Stand With Greg Jones

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 7, 2016

CONTACT: Kay Brown (907) 258-3074

Anchorage - Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau today issued the following statement in response to comments by Anchorage Assemblywoman Amy Demboski and the controversy stirred by her repetition of a national alt-right report that Islamic supporters are stockpiling arms in Alaska.

“I am saddened and outraged by the recent insinuations against Greg Jones.  I know Greg and his wife personally and they are fine, upstanding people who care deeply about our community. I consider Greg to be one of the kindest people I know.

“The Alaska Democratic Party opposes anti-Muslim rhetoric and believes that tolerance, understanding, religious liberty and unity are the best ways to attain peace. Our Executive Committee recently adopted the following resolution on this topic,” Steinau said.

RESOLUTION CONDEMNING ANTI-MUSLIM RHETORIC

Adopted by ADP Executive Committee 9/20/16

WHEREAS the genesis of the United States of America was partially in creating a system of governance that not only encourages religious diversity, but enshrines religious liberty in its founding secular documents; and

WHEREAS From its earliest days the United States of America has been made stronger by the many diverse cultures and beliefs of its citizens; and

WHEREAS Increasingly anti-Muslim rhetoric, including the potential exclusion of Muslims based on their country of origin, or solely by virtue of their religion, has been voiced in the national immigration debate, and

WHEREAS Exclusionary and bigoted rhetoric against specific religions serves only to undermine the principles of our nation, and undermine a principle that serves to unify us all despite any differences of spirituality, and

BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska Democratic Party strongly voices its support for a core value of the founding of the United States, the freedom of religion, and further

BE IT RESOLVED the Alaska Democratic Party stands resolute with its Muslim brothers and sisters, and brothers and sisters of all faiths, in seeking “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, and

BE IT RESOLVED the Alaska Democratic Party condemns anti-Muslim rhetoric, so-called ‘faith based vetting’, and religious intolerance, and

BE IT RESOLVED that the Democratic Party strongly voices its support of our many cultures and beliefs and that tolerance, understanding, religious liberty and unity is the best way to attain peace, and

FINALLY BE IT RESOLVED The Alaska Democratic Party will work to defeat the efforts of those who would see us divided along the lines of religion.

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Alaska Democrats Demand Co-Chairs Renounce Trump

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3077

ANCHORAGE: Responding to Donald Trump’s offensive, demeaning, and vulgar comments published by the Washington Post, ADP Chair Casey Steinau issued the following statement:

“Donald Trump clearly does not share our values and is unfit to be our next President.

“Trump has shown a pattern of disrespecting and demeaning women throughout his campaign. There is no excuse for continuing to support a man who brags about harassing and preying on women.”

 “To those Republicans serving on the Trump campaign in Alaska, including those currently holding public office, it’s time to do the right thing. You cannot simply distance yourself from his offensive rhetoric and still encourage Alaskans to vote for him. It’s time for each co-chair to speak out against sexual violence against women and join other Republicans in publicly renouncing Donald Trump as their preferred candidate for President.”

The following Republicans are members of Alaska’s Trump campaign team: Jim Crawford, Mead Treadwell, John Coghill, Rick Mystrom, Drue Pearce, Dan Fauske, Loren Leman, Mike Chenault, Charlie Huggins, Lesil McGuire, Amy Demboski, Dr. Jerry Prevo, Frank Dahl, Don Kubley, Craig Compeau, Paul Fuhs, John Sturgeon, Dave Schilling, Gabrielle Rubenstein, John MacKinnon, Dave Cuddy, Matt Waggoner, Glenn Biegel, Richard Carr, Dave Cruz, Robert Hall, Ed O'Neill, George Owletuck, Glenn Clary, Wayne Anthony Ross

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Democrats Comment on House District 40 Decision

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3077

ANCHORAGE: Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau released the following statement in response to yesterday's ruling on the House District 40 Primary Election:

“We are deeply disappointed in the decision overturning the results of the Democratic Primary election in House District 40.

“It’s unprecedented for a judge to take away the votes of people who rightfully voted in their precinct. We believe the judge’s job is to interpret the law and determine whether there was intentional wrong doing, not to reallocate the votes based on a historical average of past elections and questionable expert testimony.

“This decision is especially ironic in light of its’ reliance on the so-called expert testimony of former Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, who was fined by the State of Alaska in 2004 for violating ethics laws related to his partisan conduct while serving as a commissioner on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  He was fined a $12,000 civil penalty – believed to be the largest civil fine ever imposed in a state ethics case.

“We look forward to the Alaska Supreme Court’s review of this decision.”

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Democrats Support Getting an Answer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3077

 

Who’s going to control future Permanent Fund Dividends?

ANCHORAGE – Alaskans deserve to know who will control the future of Permanent Fund Dividends, the Alaska Democratic Party said today.

AS 37.13.145(b) requires the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) to transfer 50 percent of the income available for distribution from the earnings reserve account to the dividend fund. In violation of this statute, Governor Walker vetoed $665,350,000, an action that will result in the reduction of every Alaskan’s PFD.

“The law is clear,” said Casey Steinau, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party. “The Governor does not have the authority to single-handedly override an existing statute.”

The Governor unilaterally chose to cut in half every Alaskan’s Permanent Fund Dividend. The Republican-led Majorities subsequently decided not to overturn his decision by refusing to allow a vote to override the Governor’s veto.  At the same time, both the Governor and the Republicans have left Alaskans on the hook for hundreds of millions in oil tax subsidies to some of the wealthiest corporations in the world, an amount that this year alone is virtually equivalent to the cut to the PFD.

“We must fix the oil subsidies and put an end to the massive giveaways to the oil industry,” said Steinau. “The Permanent Fund needs to be the very last option we look to.”

Democrats exhausted other avenues before Sen. Bill Wielechowski filed a lawsuit last week calling for the APFC to comply with its statutory obligation. Senate Democrats sought to overturn the Governor’s veto, but Senate Majority Leader John Coghill ruled the motion out of order. Senator Wielechowski appealed the ruling, but the Republican majority voted to uphold the ruling blocking any opportunity to override the veto. Last month, Wielechowski wrote to the APFC requesting they comply with the law.

“Sen. Wielechowski has been left with no other choice but to bring this matter to court,” said Steinau. “Alaskans deserve to know if this or any future Governor can solely decide on whether to cut the amount of the PFD any time they choose.”

The cut to the PFD does nothing to close the $3.2 billion budget gap or address our fiscal crisis. Earlier this year, ISER reported that a cut to the PFD would take a significant amount of money out of the economy while reducing the bottom 10 percent of household incomes by approximately 23 percent.

“Right now, the Governor and Republican-led legislature are asking more from a child worried about where their next meal is coming from than nonresidents working in Alaska,” said Steinau. “This cut only serves to harm our economy as well as Alaska families for whom PFD payments are a very significant source of income.”

According to the Alaska Department of Labor, the percentage of nonresidents working in the oil and gas sector has grown over the last decade to 35 percent in 2014. Overall, Alaska’s nonresident hire rate has reached 20.8%, with nonresidents taking home $2.6 billion in wages.

 “If Republicans had cut back on frivolous spending when oil was $145 a barrel, we wouldn’t be in this fiscal mess,” said Steinau. “This do-nothing Republican-led legislature got us into a deep hole and now refuses to fix it.”

Republicans authorized shameful wasteful spending including: the extravagant remodel of the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, the frivolous Medicaid expansion lawsuit, the pocketing of thousands of dollars in per diem despite living in their own homes, overpriced junkets and mega-projects we can’t afford.

 

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Democrats to AK GOP: Stop Meddling in Our Primary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3077

 

Democrats to AK GOP: Stop Meddling in Our Primary

Republicans seek to silence an entire community of rural Alaskans in Democratic Primary

ANCHORAGE: Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau today released the following statement in response to Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock’s call for the State to invalidate the Democratic Primary election results for the HD 40 state representative.

“The Republican Party has taken inappropriate, though not unprecedented action, to stifle the voices of another rural Alaskan community. Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock has taken it upon himself to advocate for the dismissal of all votes from Shungnak in District 40. This attempt to meddle in a Democratic Primary and silence rural Alaska is a blatant overstep by Republican leadership, designed to undermine a result they don’t like. After arguing to defund rural public radio, threatening to shut down rural schools, and ignoring rural infrastructure needs, the Republican Party is once again disregarding the needs and voices of rural Alaskans.

“If the Republican Party wanted to have a candidate appear on the November ballot, then their candidate should have run as a Republican.

“It is unnecessary to invalidate the election or have another vote, as Republicans are advocating, because errors that have been identified didn’t change the outcome in any race.  

“The people of District 40 have spoken and we must respect that. If Mr. Babcock succeeds in undermining their voice, that would be the real failure of this election.”

The Alaska Democratic Party today sent the attached letter to the Director of the Division of Elections.

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Statement Regarding Rep. Munoz Letters on Behalf of Defendants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3050

Statement from the Alaska Democratic Party

ANCHORAGE: Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau released the following statement in response to revelations that Representative Cathy Munoz wrote letters on behalf of the defendants in two child sex abuse cases:

"Representative Munoz’s decision to ignore the victims of abuse while protecting those responsible is wholly unacceptable. It’s hard to imagine a greater evil than hurting a child. Sex crimes are especially heinous and haunt children for a lifetime. Elected officials like Munoz should never write letters like these during sentencing, regardless of the letterhead used or how close she is to the offenders. Alaska has a problem with child abuse and sexual assault. Her choice to dedicate energy and resources to protect someone convicted on eight felony counts of child endangerment and a dangerous child molester is a manifestation of the serious problem in Juneau today. Munoz had her chance to tell her side of the story and her defense indicates she does not understand the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, this is not the first time she exercised the wrong judgment."

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Democrats call on House to Stop Historic Cut to PFD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3077

 

Democrats call on House to Stop Historic Cut to PFD

Republican Majority puts outside interests ahead of Alaskan interests

ANCHORAGE: Last night, after agreeing to continue paying out millions in subsidies to the oil industry, the Senate passed a Permanent Fund restructuring plan that cuts the Permanent Fund Dividend for every man, woman and Alaskan child.  

“Where are Republicans’ priorities? Reaching into the Permanent Fund should be the last option,” said Casey Steinau, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party. “Why does the Republican majority think it is okay to pick the pockets of every Alaskan man, woman and child while preserving massive giveaways to the oil industry?”

Alaska’s oil tax credit system has become a substantial expense and is set to cost the State of Alaska hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the foreseeable future. In the next fiscal year, the State is expected to gift an estimated $825 million in refundable tax credits, while the state is forecasted to only recoup $54 million in production taxes. FY 2017 will be the third year in a row that production tax revenues are less than credit payments. The provisions passed by the Republican led Legislature requires the State of Alaska to cover a third of oil industry losses and increases the state’s fiscal liability to the oil industry to over a billion dollars.

“Democrats have been clear,” said Steinau. “We must work together to develop a fair and sustainable fiscal plan. The plan to cut the PFD while subsidizing the oil industry unfairly targets hardworking middle class families, seniors living on a fixed income who should never have to choose between food and heating their homes, and children who have yet to take their first steps.”

According to an Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development study non residents accounted for 35% of the oil industry workforce. Democrats offered amendments to incentivize local hire which were rejected by the Republican Majority in the House.

“Legislators were elected to serve Alaskans who proudly call our state home,” said Steinau. “Not only is the Republican Majority taking money out of our economy and sending it right to Houston and London, they’re taking away our families’ opportunities to save for a college education, find relief from high energy costs, and invest in local small businesses.”

The plan passed by the Senate ties the PFD to dwindling royalty revenue.

“Tying the PFD to royalties is a huge mistake and marks the beginning of the end for the dividend,” said Steinau. “We strongly urge Alaskans to contact their legislators and use their voices to tell them this is not okay.”

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Alaska Democrats Concluded Successful Convention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3077

Sanders wins 13, Clinton 3 Alaska Delegates to National Convention

ANCHORAGE: The Alaska Democratic Party concluded its biennial state convention Sunday with the election of party officers, the adoption of changes to the party plan and the passage of a resolution aimed at ending the use Unpledged Delegates.

“The state convention was an exciting time for the Alaska Democratic Party. From new Democrats participating in the party for the first time to lifelong Democrats, the enthusiastic involvement and contribution of new ideas we saw was a win for Alaska,” said Casey Steinau, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party. “The record turnout and great work conducted throughout the weekend shows Alaska Democrats are engaged and committed to building a better future for everyone.”

More than 550 Democrats from all 40 state house districts attended the state convention.

Larry Murakami of Fairbanks was elected as the party’s State Treasurer, Julianne Baltar of Dillingham was elected State Secretary, Sheila Selkregg of Anchorage was elected National Committeewoman, and Ed Wesley of Anchorage was elected National Committeman.

Attendees heard from DNC Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, Vic Fischer, Democratic and Independent candidates running for office, party leaders and other distinguished guests.

Convention attendees also participated in a variety of committee meetings and workshops. Alaska Democrats took an important step toward expanding access and participation in the presidential nomination process with discussion about the caucus and possible reforms. The Party Plan Committee and Platform Committee worked for many hours Friday to update the party rules and shape its principles.

Election of Delegates to Democratic National Convention

Sen. Sanders won 13 of Alaska’s Delegates to the Democratic National Convention that were elected Saturday. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received 3 delegates. When combined with the state’s four unpledged delegates selected earlier, the state’s 20 delegates to the national convention are currently 14 for Sanders, 4 for Clinton, and 2 remain uncommitted.

“We are pleased to have a diverse group of Alaskans representing our state in Philadelphia this summer,” said Steinau. “Alaskans will join other Democrats from across the nation, and we will unite behind our Democratic nominee and help them defeat presumptive Republican Nominee Donald Trump this November.”

Abiding by the rules set by the Democratic National Committee and Alaska’s Delegate Selection Plan, the award of delegates was based on a presidential fan out in which 523 state convention delegates participated. Sanders received 426 (81.5%) and Clinton received 97 of the state convention delegates (18.5%).

The Pledged Delegates are:

·       Mikki King Barker of Fairbanks

·       Katrina Domnick of Bethel

·       Olivia Garrett of Fairbanks

·       Traci George of Eagle River

·       Edward Alexander of Fort Yukon

·       Gregory Jones of Wasilla

·       Nathan Sidell of Palmer

·       George Wesley Sookiayak of Anchorage

·       Jill Yordy of Fairbanks

·       Taz Tally of Homer

·       Genevieve Mina of Anchorage

·       Peter Andrew of Dillingham

·       Diana Carbonell of Fritz Creek

·       Rep. Andy Josephson of Anchorage

·       Tamara Kleiner of Anchorage

·       W. James Smallwood of Anchorage

Alternates are:

·       Gavin Hudson of Metlakatla

·       D’Arcy Hutchings of Anchorage

·       Charles Degnan of Unalakleet

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