November 2, 2015

CONTACT: Jake Hamburg (907) 258-3077

Republicans fail to hold Rep. Hawker accountable

ANCHORAGE: Private emails and internal documents reveal Rep. Mike Hawker may have broken the law when he secretly worked with developer Mark Pfeffer on a controversial contract to rebuild and lease back the Anchorage Legislative Information Office (LIO).

State law allows the Legislative Council, which Hawker formerly chaired, to extend a real property lease for up to 10 years if a minimum cost savings of at least 10 percent below the market rental value at the time of the extension would be achieved (AS 36.30.083). Another provision of the procurement statutes provides: “a person who intentionally or knowingly contracts for or purchases supplies, equipment for the state fleet, services, professional services, or construction under a scheme or artifice to avoid the requirements of this chapter is guilty of a class C felony” (AS 36.30.930).

New documents and emails pertaining to the lawsuit challenging the Alaska Legislature’s Anchorage office lease were released and reported in the Alaska Dispatch News.

Internal documents reveal the Legislature’s staff and attorney objected to the legality of the agreement based, in large part, upon a thorough analysis of alternative office spaces leasing for much less money. Pam Varni, Executive Director of the Legislative Affairs Agency, noted in an email to Hawker that the proposed Anchorage lease would “be the most expensive Anchorage lease for the State of Alaska” over a 30-year period. She further questioned the justification for the unusual space calculations.

“What is the Republican Majority doing about this appalling abuse of power and violation of the public’s trust?” asked Kay Brown, Executive Director of the Alaska Democratic Party. “The failure of the Republican Majority to stop this crooked behavior is indicative of a larger problem. The Republican Majority should cancel the agreement and hold Rep. Hawker accountable.”

Although leaders of the House Republican Majority have remained silent, conservative talk-radio host Bernadette Wilson today called for Hawker to step down. Hawker chairs the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, is Vice Chair of the House Resources Committee and a member of the Rules committee that decides which bills make it to the House floor for a vote.

Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly raised questions about the cost of the Anchorage LIO lease and the process used in adopting the lease.  However, the Republican Majority continues to support the lease despite evidence that the agreement was too expensive and did not comply with procurement laws.