OPINION: Alaska needs a governor with integrity

By Bill Walker
Anchorage Daily News | October 6

As a lifelong Alaskan, I can’t think of another time in our history when a governor acted without integrity as frequently as Mike Dunleavy has in the past four years. Here are some reminders of why we need new leadership.

Tall promises, small results

The central promise Dunleavy made during the previous election is that he would give every Alaskan a $6,700 check his first year in office and a full statutory dividend of $3,000-plus every other year. He always knew the promise was impossible to keep, and he came up thousands of dollars short every year, including this year. Even to deliver what he did, he had to take a hatchet to Pioneer Homes, the ferry system, University of Alaska, winter road maintenance and our economy. Now, with the price of oil down 25% in the past three months, he is falsely campaigning again knowing he cannot deliver.

Pledge allegiance to Mike — or else

In his first act as governor in 2018, Dunleavy required state employees — not just at the top administrative level, but even positions such as public health nurses and geologists — to sign a loyalty oath to him to keep their jobs. Those who refused were terminated. This was unprecedented. Lawsuits followed, Dunleavy lost, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money was paid out.

Pay-to-play corruption

Dunleavy’s largest Alaskan donor in 2018 contributed more than $300,000 in dark money toward his campaign PAC. Shortly after coming into office, Dunleavy awarded that donor’s grandson a sole source, no-bid contract for almost the exact amount of the campaign donation, an effort that failed to produce any identifiable results. When the media exposed the contract and donor connection, Dunleavy couldn’t explain it but promised a thorough investigation.

Defunding the court system

When Dunleavy disliked Alaska Supreme Court rulings that upheld the constitutional privacy rights of Alaska women, he chose to punish the judiciary, attacking and undermining judges and vetoing funding needed to operate courts. Predictably, public funds were wasted again when Dunleavy lost the lawsuits that followed.

Using public funds for political purposes

Instead of working to compromise on the big challenges our state faces, Dunleavy used taxpayer dollars to carry out targeted political ads against legislators. That maneuver was illegal, litigation ensued, and Dunleavy lost again, with public money paying that bill, too. Now, Dunleavy is running his reelection campaign with state employees, another violation of state law.

Sexual harassment coverup

A woman who worked in the governor’s office reported that she had received more than 500 unwanted, inappropriate texts from Dunleavy’s appointed attorney general. Dunleavy responded by suspending the attorney general for 30 days, and the attorney general lost his job only when the governor’s role in the cover-up of the misconduct was exposed by a journalist.

Dark money

When faced with a difficult decision, Dunleavy often says it should go to a vote of the people. However, when Alaskans did vote and passed legislation to outlaw political donations without disclosing the donor, also known as dark money, Dunleavy and his allies took $3 million of dark money from Outside donors, just 36 hours before the new rules took effect.

Heidi Drygas and I are running to bring Alaskans together, to bring integrity back to government, and to represent everyone in our state. My political roots are Republican. Heidi’s are Democratic. But we’re setting that aside to put Alaska first. Some enter politics for power, some for purpose. Our purpose as a unity ticket is to bridge divisions instead of creating new ones and to restore trust in leadership.

We’re two lifelong Alaskans committed to telling the truth about the challenges we face instead of telling lies to get elected. This approach will lay the foundation to get our state back on track. We both believe integrity matters, and we commit to always being honest with our fellow Alaskans. With integrity, leadership and purpose, together we will rebuild Alaska.

Bill Walker is an Independent who served as the 11th governor of Alaska from 2014-18. He is running for election again on Nov. 8, as part of a unity ticket alongside Heidi Drygas.