Welcome to the theater of the absurd.
If you’re getting tired of watching Alaska Senator Lora Reinbold’s middle school “you’re not the boss of me” antics, you’re not alone. Even her fellow Republican Senators have had enough – and they’re the ones who thought she’d be just swell as part of their “Caucus of Equals,” and installed her as the chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee. Because what could possibly go wrong?
Should we still be talking about this? No. Does Sen. Reinbold (R-Eagle River) make that impossible? Yes.
Since the CDC-compliant mask mandate went into place at the Capitol, Reinbold has been wearing a bizarre boxy plastic face shield with no filter, and until yesterday Republican leadership just let her get away with it, presumably because they didn’t want to deal with the tantrum that is now smacking them in the face like a frying pan. Reinbold has also refused to be tested for COVID, or have her temperature checked like the rest of legislators and staff.
Republican Senate leadership, in an effort to keep Reinbold and her bizarre plastic face-thingy away from other Senators had her sit in the visitors’ gallery in the back of the Senate chambers. That seemed to be working until right before the floor session started when she rushed into the chamber and plopped down at her desk. Upheaval ensued.
Any parent knows this scenario. At some point after the umpteenth “you can’t make me” stunt, someone has to go to their room, and this time it was the Senator from Eagle River. Reinbold was asked yet again to leave after refusing a proper mask. She did.
Mind you, this is more than bizarre acting out. There is a serious COVID outbreak in the Capitol which has seen at its peak, 27 people infected or quarantining, and as of yesterday, Senate President Peter Micchiche’s Chief of Staff remained hospitalized with a very serious case.
After she left, Rules Chair, Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak), said Reinbold’s behavior has been “embarrassing” and that if she wants to come back it would be easy. Simply do what everyone else in the Capitol is doing – wear a mask, get tested, and have her temperature scanned.
Ultimately, by a vote of 18-1, Reinbold was barred from the Capitol until she complies with the same rules and regulations as everyone else. The fact that the Senate actually had to VOTE on whether to uphold existing law is in itself a little unsettling – but the fact that it wasn’t unanimous is also.
Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), generally a Reinbold ally, initially was a no vote but begrudgingly admitted that rules needed to be followed or changed, and that she hopes they are changed. Then she voted yes. Sen. Mike Shower (R-Wasilla) on the other hand, was a solid NO. I wonder if he had that rules-optional attitude in the military. Probably not, or he wouldn’t have lasted long. But now that he’s in elected state office? Rules shmules.
Reinbold’s response has been a series of Facebook posts, some including weird activist-blogger-style Facebook videos of Speaker Louise Stutes asking her to leave a committee meeting because she refused to wear a proper mask, and Reinbold being escorted out by Capitol police.
Another was a stalker-ish one of Senate President Peter Micchiche (R-Kenai) talking to reporters. When the reporters refocused on Reinbold, she skedaddled away saying she had a Judiciary Committee meeting to conduct.
Micchiche promptly CANCELED that meeting saying it was an “unsafe work environment.” But according to the Anchorage Daily News, Micchiche said, “We’ve given every special treatment option possible, and we’re still willing to work with her.” He said he still considers her a member of the Senate majority and she is still chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee where she can still participate by phone.
Micchiche said she could also cast votes from a spot in the Senate’s spectator gallery. Keep reading to see how that turned out.
Reinbold capped off her evening on Facebook with this little gem – a share from Q-Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. #twinsies
That’s how it stood on Wednesday. UNTIL… the next day.
Oh yes, she did.
From the Anchorage Daily News (James Brooks):
“Despite Wednesday’s vote, Reinbold returned to the Capitol on Thursday and attempted to attend two committee hearings. At the second, she was confronted by Micciche, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak; Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage; and Shower.
“Everyone else in this building is following the rules. Every single person,” Micciche told Reinbold during a tense moment in a Capitol hallway.
“’My chief of staff is fighting for his life right now, Lora. I’m not screwing around anymore. We’re done. You’re going to follow the rules or you’re going to leave the building. I’m never unpleasant but I’m getting really bothered. Quit playing games,’ he said.
“One of Reinbold’s aides attempted to capture the scene on cellphone video, but Stevens told her to shut off the camera or be fired. Reinbold has put previous confrontations on Facebook.”
AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TODAY.
SO, did all of that work? Was the Senate President’s staffer who’s fighting to breathe, enough? Was the heart-to-heart from her leadership enough? Of course not. Reinbold is, as of the sending of this email, actively posting more attention-seeking nonsense. Here’s the latest we know as of 12:30pm Friday on Reinbold’s official government Facebook page.
***This is my weekly-ish reminder that even those who are now taking some type of action (Micchiche) and those who say Reinbold is “embarrassing” (Stevens), and the Republicans (except Shower) who just voted to bar her from the Capitol most of the time are the SAME PEOPLE who 1) gave her power, 2) let her continue to have it, and 3) thought to themselves that this disruptive, absurd clown show would be better than forming a bipartisan coalition with Democrats like the House has.
It’s not like they didn’t know her before this. So, you know… remember that in 2022. Please.
LALALALALA! SHE CAN’T HEAR YOU!
Don’t plan on leaving comments with Sen. Reinbold, or you’ll end up like this guy whose comment remained on her page for only an hour before being deleted, and blocked. #CancelCulture
And there are other things afoot in the Capitol, although you wouldn’t know it because you-know-who is sucking up all the oxygen in the building. But that didn’t stop the Dunleavy administration from coming up with a random, unilateral declaration that he was going to split the Department of Health & Social Services into two because it was too much for Commissioner Adam Crum to handle and they needed to hire a bunch more people.
Here is the short version:
Dunleavy: I shall cleft the department of Health and Social Services in twain! It’s too big!
HSS Committee: Hang on a second. According to the non-partisan legislative legal team, there’s all kinds of stuff in here that’s super unconstitutional and you can’t do that. So, we’re blocking it.
Dunleavy: Oh… Nevermind.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
The American Rescue Plan is signed, and help is on the way to the Americans who need it most. The bill passed with absolutely NO Republican support, which sadly covers our entire congressional delegation. Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Rep. Don Young all opposed the landmark legislation despite the fact that Alaska will be receiving more than $4000 per capita – the third most in the country. I’m old enough to remember when elected Alaskans in DC would brag about all the cash they brought home to our state, and used it to get reelected. Now, apparently, they vote against it.
Alaska is one of the dark green states below, despite Dunleavy (who has COVID) spending his time trash-tweeting President Biden. See how that’s supposed to work? It’s hard to imagine the former guy doing what’s right and not exacting petty revenge by penalizing the people of a state whose leaders didn’t fall in line to kiss the ring. #justsaying
A PRESIDENT IN THE WHITE HOUSE
And speaking of Biden, if you didn’t have the chance to listen to his first televised address to the nation since taking office in January, you really should. It wasn’t a fiery barnburner. Nor did it contain insults, vague threats, shirking responsibility or blaming others. It was quiet, sincere, and dare I say it… presidential. Twitter was unusually teary while it was happening. The bar was set so low that having a kind President was a balm to the soul. Watch the whole thing HERE.
*This article is reposted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party. To subscribe to Tall Tales from Juneau, sign up for the email list at: alaskademocrats.org