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September 17, 2021

The Great Bamboo Hunter vs. Indictments at Home

BAMBOO HUNTER

Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) is the latest in a string of Trumpy state legislators to fly off to Arizona for the grand tour of the Fraudit™, conducted by a group called “Cyber Ninjas” which is doing an examination of votes for President by Arizonans in the hopes of confirming an assortment of conspiracy theories which say that the 2020 vote was stolen and that Donald Trump is really still the President. 

Sure there’s a special session going on in Juneau right now, but Eastman seems to have different priorities. And apparently that money in his legislative account was burning a hole in his pocket so he decided to spend it on a conspiracy caper. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

An Arizona reporter was on the scene to break the news to Twitter.

According to election-deniers, a super secret stash of Chinese ballots were filled out for Joe Biden in South Korea, and then smuggled via airplane from Seoul right after the election to Phoenix where they were somehow absorbed into the legitimate ballots and counted. But Trump super secretly put a watermark on mail-in ballots to identify the fraud he just knew was probably going to happen and the joke’s on them because if the ballots were printed in Korea they’ll have super-secret BAMBOO FIBERS which will identify them and patriots with magnifying glasses and ultraviolet lights will PROVE that Trump shouldn’t just be a civilian playing golf and fending off lawsuits – he should be the PRESIDENT playing golf and fending off lawsuits. Or something like that.

What David Eastman’s little sojourn will not do is find fraud. What it will do is attempt to undermine confidence in our election system – in Arizona and Alaska. Both states, incidentally, had elections which were signed off on by Republican governors, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the Trump followers. Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer of Alaska (R) was told of Eastman’s state-sponsored field trip to Phoenix and said he was “disappointed.”

And let’s not forget that Eastman was at the Capitol in DC during the January 6 insurrection (not inside the building), and that he attempted to join a Texas lawsuit designed to block the certification of national election results. 

Eastman posted this photo that night, after the deadly rioting had taken place at the Capitol.

From James Brooks at the Anchorage Daily News:

“Though Eastman may be Alaska’s most prominent elected defender of Trump’s election-fraud theories, his views appear common among elected Republicans here. In a January interview, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said President Joe Biden was elected, but he declined to say that Biden’s election was legitimate.
“’It would appear that the courts believe so,’ Dunleavy said. ‘I mean, he’s our president.’

     In an informal email survey of all 60 Alaska legislators by the Anchorage Daily News earlier this year, no Republicans were willing to say that Biden was legitimately elected.” 
    [my emphasis]


WHEN THERE’S VOTER FRAUD, THEY FIND IT!

There was some big news yesterday when the Department of Law announced that a grand jury has indicted former Republican Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, her former Chief of Staff, Lisa Vaught Simpson, and Simpson’s son Caden Vaught, with five counts of felony voter misconduct.

The charges came after state elections officials alerted Alaska State Troopers to irregularities with certain absentee ballot applications during LeDoux’s 2018 re-election campaign. The FBI also participated in the investigation which has brought us to where we are today, after covid slowed down the process last year. 

LeDoux is a former Republican Chair of the powerful House Rules and House Judiciary committees, an attorney, and served in the House both as a representative from Kodiak, and later East Anchorage. In 2019, she broke with her caucus on a budget vote to support a $3000 PFD and was stripped of her committee assignments. At the time she issued a that-didn’t-age-well quote – “I believe that all organizations, societies … have their rules,” she said, “and people cannot simply pick and choose the laws they are going to follow.”

From the Anchorage Daily News:

This week’s indictments lengthen a list of accusations made last year, when prosecutors accused LeDoux, former chief of staff Lisa (Vaught) Simpson and Simpson’s son, Caden Vaught, of illegally registering to vote and illegally voting in LeDoux’s district. Charging documents alleged they sought to register others.

According to the state’s account of events, LeDoux, Simpson and Vaught “solicited and/or encouraged people who did not live in her district to vote in the House District 15 primary and general elections” in 2018 and 2014.

While Republicans are busy looking for voter fraud from China and hunting down an imaginary Democratic cabal of pedophiles trying to overturn a presidential election, we can all be comforted by the fact that when there IS actual alleged voter fraud (even when it’s a sitting Republican lawmaker *cough cough*) the system finds it and prosecutes it.

____________________________

ELECTION TIME! (NOT THAT KIND)

WHO’S THE WORST?

No need to mail a ballot or stand in line for this one. It’s the Midnight Sun‘s annual “Who’s the Worst?” Click HERE to rate legislators on smarts, ethics, effectiveness, and a suggested nickname. You can rate just one or as many as you know. It’s not official, or scientific, but it feels good to get it off your chest. AND rest assured that nobody will be examining your votes under a microscope looking for bamboo fibers. #winwin

WHO’S THE BEST?

And here’s a chance to brush up on how Alaska’s new ranked-choice elections are going to work. The Division of Elections is holding a mock Alaska seafood election! Right now is the primary phase, so you can click HERE and pick your top choice. Then all the results will be tallied when polls close on June 15. The top four delicious critters will make it to the general election when we’ll have a chance to rank them in order of individual preference from 1 to 4.


DEADLINE JULY 1

The special session in Juneau continues, and if legislators don’t pass a budget, and if the governor doesn’t sign that budget by July 1, the state government will shut down. And even if that doesn’t happen there’s another procedural matter that could leave a lot of Alaskans in a bad way. It’s called the “reverse sweep” and here’s a (hopefully) simplified version of what that means.

Every year on June 30, any accounts with money in them are emptied at the end of the fiscal year. The Constitution says that funds can’t be officially dedicated to stay in any specific accounts so they all get “swept” into the big pot of the budget reserve. But longstanding tradition with legislators of both parties is that there are certain things that are critically important, and some of the money that goes into the big pot at 11:59pm on June 30 is immediately swept back into a few critical accounts. This is known as “the reverse sweep.” 

The biggest account that get funds swept back to it is the Power Cost Equalization Fund (PCE) which goes to assist with astronomical energy bills in rural Alaska so people don’t freeze to death or go hungry because they can’t afford their heating bills. The other large account is the Higher Education Investment Fund which provides scholarships to Alaska high school students.

Normally, getting the requisite number of votes from both sides isn’t a big deal, but this year it may not be that simple. The number of hard-right members of the House increased this year when more moderate incumbent Republicans lost their primaries. So now Republican minority members in the House could throw a wrench in the works. Minority Leader Cathy Tilton (R-Palmer) has said that the minority supports the reverse sweep but also that it’s “a negotiating tool.” So, apparently their personal support doesn’t rule out a calculated vote against it if they don’t get something else they want.

The PFD negotiations may factor into the equation, as individual legislators put forth their own proposals in response to the governor’s proposal, and chaos ensues. Legislators fall all over the map on this one, regardless of political affiliation. We’ve still got a few weeks left to get it done, or face some real problems. And another special session.


THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG

Remember a couple weeks ago when the legislature considered the governor’s appointments to various boards and commissions, and the wife of disgraced-and-fired-but-said-he-wanted-to-spend-time-with-his-family former Dunleavy Chief of Staff and Republican Party Chair Tuckerman Babcock was nominated to the Alaska Judicial Council? And remember when the R’s were all outraged that anyone could think that just because Mr. Babcock was an out-of-control right wing hack who wants nothing more than to sabotage and gut the Alaska judiciary because they aren’t conservative enough, doesn’t mean Mrs. Babcock would have any such agenda? And also, many argued, she’s so NICE. She’s lovely. She’s a fabulous hostess, and is just the sweetest, kindest lady many had ever met. 

Well, so much for that.

Less than a month after Kristie Babcock was confirmed to the Alaska Judicial Council, she broke out the poison pen and shot off a screed against Chief Justice Joel Bolger of the Alaska State Supreme Court. 

And it was nasty – like Babcock-level nasty. 

Why? Because Bolger was the tie-breaking vote against a right-wing extremist judge that Kristie Babcock wanted to replace the retiring Bolger – Kotzebue Superior Court Judge, Paul Roetman.  

The three names that were given to Gov. Dunleavy to choose from (which is how this works) were those with the actual highest ranking based on a, long-standing polling process of lawyers, law-enforcement officials, jurors and court personnel regarding each candidate.

Babcock accused Bolger of being racist against a minority nominee and rural Alaskans in general. Ironically one of the main points of discussion against Babcock’s nomination to the council by the legislature was that she was from the same region of the state as the other two public members, and that rural Alaska was being deprived of representation on the council. Apparently rural Alaska’s interests are dispensable when she herself is involved, but she’s happy to play the rural/minority card when the ideologue she favors didn’t get picked.

Her favorite, Roetman, scored second-lowest on professional competence, second-lowest on integrity, second-lowest on fairness, second-lowest on judicial temperament, and second-lowest on suitability of experience among all 7 candidates. Babcock didn’t mention any of that, of course. But that’s not what she (and the other Babcock) care about.

There are two great write-ups by Dermot Cole, and Wickersham’s Conscience (retired Fairbanks attorney) that delve into the details. Both worth a read to understand the implications of having TeamBabcock in a position to attack and undermine the independence of the Alaska Judiciary. 

This is the attack we must be expecting, and we need to understand it to fight against it. This is one of those wonky subjects that really matters, and they’re counting on people not paying attention. So, pay attention! 

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