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January 25, 2022



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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Money Machine Steamrolls Alaska

This week I received an email from a Republican friend. (Yes, I have those.) She requested a different kind of column from me this week. “Instead of adding to all the ugly, negative political comments out there why not a column about the economic stimulus this election is having on Alaska with all the Outside money coming into the state?”

Really? Yeah! We have Outside money trying to get a guy elected that wants to get rid of Social Security! That’s the opposite of economic stimulus. So the short answer is, no. I won’t be riding that unicorn this week. The longer answer is next.

I remember the first time I heard that Gov. Sarah had appointed Dan Sullivan as her Attorney General back in 2009, and wondering, “who is this guy?” Her first pick, Wayne Anthony Ross, had been a very public and humiliating loss for her when he was the first ever to be rejected by the legislature. I laughed when I heard from legislators in Juneau, who relayed conversations with oil company lobbyists, that Sullivan had been looking for a state in which to run for the US Senate, and was “sent here” by Karl Rove and some DC insiders to run in Alaska. It seemed ridiculous, and knowing how Alaskans feel about Outsiders trying to come in and tell us how to run our state, there was simply no way this could ever happen.


I’m a little cynical about politics, but even I could never have envisioned that the DC money machine could come in and steamroll Alaskans like they did in the Republican primary – bowling over the Tea Party and a sitting Lt. Governor. While Dan does his best to speak only in controlled environments where he can’t be asked tough questions, it looks like the wheels are finally starting to come off the Sullivan bus. Or in this case, given his billionaire backing, the Sullivan Rolls Royce. This week, Sullivan missed another debate, and had refused to say why. Well, it turns out he was caught in Cleveland – at another fundraiser there, hosted by a bunch of rich guys. The state where Dan has raised more money than any other? Ohio. Hey, I don’t have anything against Ohio – except for that one Congressman who for years kept introducing legislation to keep Denali named Mt. McKinley – after the former President from Ohio. But Ohio already has two Senators. And really, don’t they get enough attention during our presidential elections?

Then there is the issue of Dan’s residency. On his sworn FEC candidate filing in 2014, Dan claimed he was a 17-year resident of Alaska. This contradicted his own Alaska fishing license applications, in which he claimed in 2009 to have been a nonresident, and in 2010 to have been a 1-year resident, and claimed to be a Maryland resident so he could get thousands in tax breaks there. This week, Maryland issued a finding that Dan was in fact a resident of Maryland from 2006 through 2008, which means Dan wasn’t being quite upfront on his FEC filing. Wasn’t there a Democratic President a few years ago that the Republicans tried to impeach for perjuring himself? Ah – situational ethics. Or does this mean Dan will be impeached if elected?

So why would a bunch of DC insiders try so hard to get a guy from Cleveland or Maryland elected to the US Senate in Alaska? It’s plain old business – billionaires like the Koch Brothers, who recently shut down the Flint Hills Refinery in Alaska and laid off dozens of Alaskans while leaving a plume of underground polluted water, are looking for the best return on their investment. Alaska Senate elections are much cheaper to buy than say, Ohio, with a much bigger population, and which has to be mailed to, door knocked, phone called, and advertised to in the expensive Cleveland and Cincinnati media markets.

What are these billionaires after? They ain’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. They want to pay smaller taxes so they can buy a few new corporate jets, yachts, and Rolls Royces. How do they do this? They need Senators willing to cut your benefits that you’ve paid for your whole life. That’s why Dan supports slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits.


But this week another fascinating connection came to light. Sullivan actually showed up for a  fishing debate in Kodiak, surprising many of us who were getting used to him ignoring the largest industry in Alaska. When he was working for the federal government (the one we Alaskans love to hate), he actually lobbied for Europe to open up its markets for genetically modified salmon, AKA “Frankenfish”. Alaskans despise these fish since they carry diseases and threaten our fisheries. Sullivan tried to brush this off as him just doing his government job. But this week it was revealed his Ohio family ACTUALLY OWNS a company that sells Frankenfish in Canada and China. The name of the company: Navillus – Sullivan spelled backwards. Did they think Alaskans would be too stupid to figure that one out? I guess such a backward idea deserves the spelling.


In the fish debate, Sullivan refused to declare his support of the Pebble Project. Really, Dan? Why was your campaign manager for seven months Ben Mohr, whose previous work experience was almost seven years as a top cheerleader for Pebble? And why would the Pebble Limited Partnership donate furniture to your campaign? Why did you support HB77 that would have silenced Alaskans against the project? I suppose that’s why Dan also supports the Pebble Mine – a strip mine that destroys the largest wild salmon run in the world would be great business for the Sullivan family Frankenfish business. This would also explain why his family has pumped nearly $1 million into Super-PACs supporting Dan. I suppose it’s nice to have a US Senator in the family, but it’s also great for business.



25 Responses to “Money Machine Steamrolls Alaska”
  1. Moose Pucky says:

    Don’t think the headline using the word “steamrolled” is helpful, as many people like to hop aboard a steam-roller. Moose Pucky sees this race far differently..Sen. Begich connects with Alaskans and that will carry the day.

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Dems finally got off their arses and started pumping money into South Dakota where the annointed one-whitey wingnut,former governor and corrupt corpsucle Mike Rounds has dropped into a tight race with former wingnut cum Indie,Larry Pressler and refreshing Dem, Rick-the troubadour-Weiland (His musical ads are fantastic) are going down to the wire. Pressler voted twice for Obama and Rounds is crooked as a dog’s hind leg. This Senate seat is up for grabs and Harry Reid won’t support Weiland because he doesn’t like Tom Daschle,former Senate majority leader from South Dakota.

  3. Alaska Pi says:
    Thank you Ms Welsh- as always .
    No thank you Senator Murkowski!

    • Mo says:

      Good read, Pi.

      And BTW, are we really going to have to wait for that grumpy old fart Don Young to actually die before we can manage to elect a new state Representative?

      Altho I’m sure he succeeds in keeping the rest of Congress snickering behind his back – “clout,” doncha know.

      And oh yeah – you kids get off his lawn!

      • Moose Pucky says:

        Forrest Dunbar is a class act..positive, energetic..speaks intelligently on the issues and listens to Alaskans and their concerns. Solidly stands up for equal rights and justice for all. Understands Alaskans and the resources of Alaska. Diplomatic..capable of providing positive representation for Alaska in Congress. All Alaskans need to do to retire Don Young is vote for the clearly best candidate..Forrest Dunbar.

  4. mike from iowa says:

    Money is no object-it’s free speech, unless you have no money. When you have no money,it becomes the objective. So we have come full circle in an instant. You are guaranteed free speech,but not money. That is a head scratcher for sure. Unless there is more than one kind of free speech. If we are all created equal,why do wealthy people have access to pols who are supposed to represent all of us? Could it be they have more louder free speech?

  5. Mike D. says:

    A Sullivan win will have national implications. Here and elsewhere it will take voters who will do more than wring their hands and shake their heads over how much money is spent by corporate interests to buy these elections. If concern does not translate into action, all hell will break loose when the GOP takes control of the senate. Coupled with a bought and paid for Supreme Court, we’ll see a GOP feeding frenzy. For working class Americans and the poor, it won’t be pretty.

    • Mo says:

      I console myself with this comment from John K. Galbraith’s The Age of Uncertainty:

      People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged feel also that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich. So it was in the Ancien Regime. When reform from the top became impossible, revolution from the bottom became inevitable.

      Keep on digging those personal graves, oligarchs.

      • Mike D. says:

        God-given right. Now there’s a conversation.

        • Mo says:

          Paul Krugman has posted about the hurt fee-fees of the 1% whenever anyone has the utter nerve to suggest that they’re making bank in a rigged system.

          Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs thinks they’re doing God’s work, remember?

  6. Zyxomma says:

    Washington Post has a great map of the field offices for Begich’s re-election campaign. It may give you hope:

  7. David Luntz says:

    Both sides of the political spectrum are corrupted by outside money. It’s time our system’s processes are updated to insure outside influences are negated.

    • Mo says:

      It’s time our system’s processes are updated…”

      So which party do you think is more likely to get that little task accomplished, Dave?

      Kochistanis or Democrats?

  8. Mo says:

    I kinda wonder how many Alaska Republican dumb bunnies are making campaign contributions to richie rich Carpetbagger Dan.

    You’d think they’d be embarrassed to be such suckers, but apparently lack of shame is a GOP feature these days, not a character flaw.

  9. leota2 says:

    Great post Shannon.

  10. Alaska Pi says:

    not to argue but an important point-
    “frankenfish” or transgenic salmon is distinctly different than traditional farmed salmon, though the transgenic salmon would be farmed .
    I have now seen 2 articles/opinion pieces which blur that line .
    We need to be dang all careful not to do so too.
    this piece
    reminds us of specifics as regards Mr Sullivan and our fish and why we should not vote for the patriarchal patronizing patoot he is.

    And c’mon, Alaskans- Mr Parnell has got to go! Hiring Pebble spokesmouth as fisheries adviser? jeez and crackers, holy moley, and crimenently! That sucker has GOT to GO!

  11. mike from iowa says:

    Shane Holt,buddy-the Nobel prize in medicine was just announced and the consensus is you need some.

  12. mike from iowa says:

    So you have wingnut friends. I guess that explains the need for concealed carry. 🙂 In pointing out Sullivan’s negatives you hi-lited all the reasons the enemy forces will use to vote for him. On the bright side, Silliman Sully can go in style. Rolls makes busses so he has a place to throw his high end friends.

  13. Millie says:

    The Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage newspaper) did not put this commentary on their website today. At least I couldn’t find it after searching for it specifically. I would very much like to see it there.

  14. Millie says:

    Outstanding article, Shannyn! Cast your vote to reelect Senator Mark Begich, Alaskans!

  15. Zyxomma says:

    I wish I had the money to support Mark Begich’s campaign. Sullivan would be horrible for Alaska and the US.

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