Nelson, WAR, and Stimulus Status Update -- April 12, 2009

Nelson Rejected for State Senate Seat

On April 9, 2009, Alaska State Senate Democrats rejected Governor Palin’s second nominee Joe Nelson for the District B (Juneau) State Senate seat left vacant when former State Senator Kim Elton took a patronage job in the Obama administration (Cockerham, 2009, ¶1). The result is that neither the Governor nor the Senate Democrats got what they wanted and that district is without representation.


Joe Nelson was a Juneau Democrat, a lawyer, a Native Regional Corporation board member, a University of Alaska
Southeast employee, husband and father. The Senate Democrats instead wanted an 80-year-old Juneau ex-legislator who was also a 1970s Fairbanks legislator. Had their nominee been a Native American and had Governor Palin rejected that choice, they would be have been crying about racism.

Since the beginning of this process, which has been documented in this blog, the Senate Democrats have been trying to foist their choice on and disrespect the Governor just to engage in a power play. Governor Palin submitted two nominees. The claim of Nelson’s “inexperience” is specious and was not the point of the rejection. This was nothing more than a simple chess game that now has resulted in a stalemate. But the losers in this equation are neither the Governor, nor the Senate Democrats, but the people of District B who have no State Senate representation.

Wayne Anthony Ross

Meanwhile, the nomination hearing of Wayne Anthony Ross (WAR) devolved into a critique by Jay Ramras who took swipes at Governor Palin for appearing at the Iron Dog race in an Arctic Cat jacket (Cockerham, 2009, ¶26). Then Ramras questioned Ross on how he would advise the Governor should she sign a book deal and travel the country promoting her book (Cockerham, 2009, ¶27). Despite some of the negative things said about WAR, he most likely will be confirmed as Alaska’s Attorney General.


The exchange between Ramras and WAR illustrates the pettiness and parochialism that is present in Alaska regarding the expectations of the Governor. In the piece on the stimulus, A.D.N. reporter Sean Cockerham discussed an exchange — also involving Ramras in which he was against Governor Palin leaving the state during the last 72 hours of the legislative session to attend a right-to-life dinner and a special needs children event in Indiana (Cockerham, 2009, ¶7).

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is fixing to write a book. Obama authored two memoirs. Hillary Clinton wrote books. Hillary Clinton, though regarded as a “carpet-bagger” by many New Yorkers at the time and seen as strictly posturing for a POTUS run was elected nonetheless as the state’s junior Senator and held that job through the campaign until she became Secretary of State. All of Governor Palin’s colleagues routinely travel outside their home states to speak at various events — many of these events are junkets. Prior to Obama, all of our Presidents going back at least a generation were sitting governors and actually campaigned while holding their jobs. George W. Bush was elected Governor of Texas, even though the people knew full well he would only serve about a year. There was nothing unethical about any of these things.

The ethics law prohibiting “[seeking] other employment or contracts through the use or attempted use of official position” is intended to curtail pay-for-play type activity. For instance, Governor Palin could not under this law could not accept consulting fees from an industry that she has influence over via laws, regulations, etc. Writing a book is not part of her gubernatorial duties, and so long as it does not interfere with her job, Governor Palin has the right to author a book should she so choose. She has the right to campaign for POTUS if she so chooses. To interpret this ethics law as precluding her from campaigning for POTUS is patently absurd, as none of our nation’s other governors are subject to such a rule.

It appears that some people expect the Governor to be chained to her desk by the ankles and with a millstone tied to her neck for good measure. These people need to grow up and accept the reality that she will travel out of state; she will make speeches, hold rallies, and headline events. Yes, when her husband is professionally sponsored by Arctic Cat at a snow machine race, she will wear their jacket. There is nothing unethical about that. Governor Palin is more than the Governor of Alaska. She is a national figure — and her name recognition is igniting interest in that state. I for one, had no interest in Alaska till I discovered Governor Palin. I also learned about a beautiful and fascinating state I hope to visit one day. By ankle-biting her, these people are only harming, not helping their state.


Governor Palin had made her position on the stimulus package crystal clear: no unfunded state mandates and no expanded federal control over the state’s activities. Thus, she declined one third of the $930.7 million in stimulus funding, but many of the state’s law makers want it all. (Cockerham, 2009, ¶10).

Now, Governor Palin — who could veto this money in question — offered to compromise with lawmakers by accepting those funds provided they replace, not add to the state’s budget (Cockerham, 2009, ¶11). Many of the state’s legislators are not interested in this compromise and do not think it’s legal under the terms of the stimulus package (Cockerham, 2009, ¶12).


In this author’s opinion, if the Governor can veto the 1/3 of this poisoned money and not have her veto overturned, she should do so….and it may come to that any way, as it appears the legislators are not interested in her compromise offer. Her position on this portion of the bill was correct from day one: un-funded state mandates and expanded federal control over state affairs are bad for Alaska (indeed any of our 50 states). Adding to the national debt is not exactly a good thing either.

It seems to this author that the Alaska State Legislature is more interested in power-playing than in getting any useful work done. Of the 419 bills introduced in this year’s legislative session, a whopping nine have passed (Cockerham, 2009, ¶3). The other 410 are languishing or dead and forgotten about. Those who want the declined funds see “free money” but simply cannot see the strings attached….kind of like that credit card offer you get in the mail that sounds so good — till you find out that John Gotti and his loan sharks offer cheaper interest and better terms.

One of the most disgraceful things about the stimulus package is that not one member of Congress who passed this thing even bothered to read it! Obama most probably pencil-whipped his signature on that 1071-page act without even giving it a cursory glance. Governor Palin actually read the stimulus package — all of it. She took money for capital projects and discarded the poisoned money that came with strings attached. Have the state’s law makers read this package? This is not “free” money. Governor Palin wisely rejected it. They should follow her lead.


Cockerham, S. (2009, April 11). Ross stands up to grilling in house. Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from: http://www.adn.com/politics/story/756118.html

Cockerham, S. (2009, April 11). Senate Democrats reject another Palin pick. Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from: http://www.adn.com/palin/story/756111.html

Cockerham, S. (2009, April 12). Stimulus funds pending as legislature winds down. Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved from: http://www.adn.com/news/government/legislature/budget/story/756967.html