Legislature(2021 - 2022)


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10:01:58 AM Start
10:20:37 AM Adjourn
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Executive Session
                 ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                     
          SELECT COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATIVE ETHICS                                                                              
                     November 18, 2022                                                                                        
                         10:00 AM                                                                                             
                HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING                                                                                    
10:01:58 AM                                                                                                                 
1. CALL THE MEETING TO ORDER                                                                                                
Conner Thomas called to order the meeting of the House                                                                          
Subcommittee of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                                      
at 10:01 a.m. on November 18, 2022.                                                                                             
Conner Thomas welcomed all of the committee members, noting                                                                     
that Public Member Alternate Jerry McBeath was in                                                                               
attendance for the first time.                                                                                                  
Conner Thomas directed Jerry Anderson to take roll.                                                                             
Roll Call                                                                                                                     
Representative Sara Hannan                                                                                                      
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
H. Conner Thomas                                                                                                                
Joyce M. Anderson                                                                                                               
Gerald McBeath, Alternative                                                                                                     
Quorum present.                                                                                                                 
Jerry Anderson                                                                                                                  
Jacqui Yeagle                                                                                                                   
Conner Thomas reminded everyone to identify themselves                                                                          
before speaking. He said the meeting was expected to last                                                                       
for approximately two hours, a large portion of which was                                                                       
likely to be in executive session.                                                                                              
10:04:27 AM                                                                                                                 
2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA                                                                                                       
Conner Thomas entertained a motion to approve the agenda.                                                                       
Motion made by: Representative Sara Hannan                                                                                      
There were no objections. The agenda was approved.                                                                              
3. PUBLIC COMMENT                                                                                                           
Conner Thomas entertained public comment.                                                                                       
Senator David Wilson stated that the Ethics Committee had                                                                       
requested additional funding for an ongoing house                                                                               
subcommittee investigation due  to unresponsive legislators                                                                     
and staff. He said that Ethics Committee rules apply to                                                                         
both legislators and staff and that he finds it                                                                                 
disconcerting to allow unresponsiveness, especially from                                                                        
staff. He urged the committee, if the unresponsiveness                                                                          
continues, to take action by referring them to the                                                                              
presiding officer of the body  for disciplinary action. His                                                                     
recommendation would be termination. Otherwise, he said,                                                                        
the committee is all bark and  no teeth, and it concerns him                                                                    
that the committee be taken seriously.  He takes seriously                                                                      
his duty to serve on this committee, he respects the                                                                            
committee and the work they do. The committee should not                                                                        
have to spend an additional $12,500 because of                                                                                  
nonresponsive legislators and  staff. That is irresponsible                                                                     
of those members and they dont   take seriously their oaths                                                                     
of office and duties to the legislature. He thanked the                                                                         
committee for the time.                                                                                                         
Conner Thomas thanked Senator  David Wilson for his comments                                                                    
and entertained others.                                                                                                         
Patrick Martin said that he had visited the Capitol on                                                                          
April 14 and 15 to deliver 5,000  petitions calling on the                                                                      
Alaska Legislature to prohibit  the use of taxpayer money to                                                                    
pay for abortions in the state of Alaska. Because                                                                               
Representatives Eastman and Kurka  work closely together, he                                                                    
wanted photos with them and the petitions that he had                                                                           
brought. The unpredictable schedule  of floor and committee                                                                     
sessions prevented a brief visit,  and instead forced him to                                                                    
wait extended times to get the two representatives and                                                                          
their staffs together for the  photos. His meeting requests                                                                     
were also delayed repeatedly as  the two representatives                                                                        
were engaged in other work. He said that they spent way                                                                         
more time in the Capitol than they ever wanted to spend                                                                         
Aside from representatives Eastman  and Kurka, he interacted                                                                    
with several house and senate  offices, almost all of which                                                                     
were positive and cordial in their  interactions even though                                                                    
most of the offices visited are on the other side of the                                                                        
issue. The offices of Senator Hughes and Representative                                                                         
McCabe were hostile. Representative  McCabe represents the                                                                      
district in which Patrick Martin lives. Patrick Martin                                                                          
visited Representative McCabes   office in order to deliver                                                                     
a book and to remind him that pro-life Republicans should                                                                       
never vote a caucus with the abortion lobby. His staffer                                                                        
was curt and refused to accept  the book and the message he                                                                     
asked her to take. At the office Senator Hughes, Buddy                                                                          
Whitt practically shouted Patrick  Martin out of the office                                                                     
because Patrick Martin would not  remove his petitions from                                                                     
the senators office. Buddy Whitt called security in an                                                                          
attempt to intimidate Patrick  Martin into surrendering his                                                                     
right to petition the government.                                                                                               
After leaving the petitions for  Senator Hughes, Buddy Whitt                                                                    
followed Patrick Martin into the  hallway to further harass                                                                     
and intimidate, then Buddy Whitt invited Patrick Martin                                                                         
back into the office where the two had a 30-minute                                                                              
conversation. During that 30-minute  period, other staffers                                                                     
in the office of Senator Hughes continued to harass and                                                                         
intimidate Patrick Martin by calling  security and accusing                                                                     
Patrick Martin of carrying a gun in the building, an act                                                                        
Patrick Martin said that pro-life  activists dont  do. The                                                                      
responding capitol security officer  did not find a gun but                                                                     
he did remain outside the office  of Senator Hughes for the                                                                     
duration of the conversation between Patrick Martin and                                                                         
Buddy Whitt.                                                                                                                    
The Ethics complaint against Representative Eastman and                                                                         
Representative Kurka seems about  as credible as the weapons                                                                    
accusation. They are all politically  motivated attempts to                                                                     
harass and intimidate and ultimately silence a citizen                                                                          
activist and any elected representatives who are willing                                                                        
take a hard stand against killing Alaskan babies with                                                                           
taxpayer money.                                                                                                                 
He asked the committee to look at the accusations and the                                                                       
smears against him, a private  citizen, and Representatives                                                                     
Eastman and Kurka, and the baseless,  false accusations of                                                                      
using government resources for  Patrick Martins  political                                                                      
purposes, which are false, but  also completely unprovable.                                                                     
He has to ask why the committee  are even doing this. Its  a                                                                    
baseless complaint, its  a smear  campaign against himself,                                                                     
Alaska Right to Life, and Representatives Eastman and                                                                           
Kurka. That is so patently obvious  that it seems the Ethics                                                                    
Committee has not even looked at the complaint and the                                                                          
accusations listed in it. He said he does not know who                                                                          
brought the complaint but based on his visit to the                                                                             
capitol, it seems likely either  Representative McCabe or                                                                       
Senator Hughes or their staff  members, who have taken a                                                                        
very politically motivated stance  against him, a private                                                                       
citizen, against Alaska Right  to Life, a simple pro-life                                                                       
activist group, and against the  representatives that work                                                                      
with the group. If the committee  wants to carry out the                                                                        
hearing and the investigation  and invite him to testify in                                                                     
the hearings, thats  fine. Its   not going to go well. He                                                                       
thanked the committee for taking  his testimony and he again                                                                    
encouraged the committee to look  at the accusations, the                                                                       
complaint, and the political nature buried in them. He                                                                          
concluded by saying that this  accusation and this hearing                                                                      
should not even see the light of day.                                                                                           
Conner Thomas thanked Patrick  Martin for his comments, and                                                                     
noted that his comments were not testimony.                                                                                     
Jerry McBeath noted to Patrick  Martin that he referred to                                                                      
himself several times as a private citizen, yet                                                                                 
acknowledged that he had an organization called Alaska                                                                          
Right to Life, which is a public  advocacy organization. He                                                                     
asked: Is it not possible that  people might characterize                                                                       
him as an advocate in a public setting?                                                                                         
Patrick Martin replied that it  does, but its  unseemly that                                                                    
his name was thrown out in derogatory  terms in accusations                                                                     
and on the house floor.                                                                                                         
Conner Thomas thanked Patrick Martin again and asked if                                                                         
there was additional public comment.                                                                                            
Representative Eastman encouraged  the committee to review                                                                      
the statutes that address the committees duties,                                                                                
particularly dealing with confidentiality.  In his and his                                                                      
attorneys  review of the statutes,  it does not appear at                                                                       
all - nor was it the case when he served on the committee -                                                                     
that the committee has discretion  to waive or not waive                                                                        
confidentiality when the subject of the complaint has                                                                           
formally waived confidentiality.  Nowhere in statute does it                                                                    
give the committee discretion  whether or not to grant that                                                                     
confidentiality. Once the subject waives his rights to                                                                          
privacy and confidentiality and has asked for relevant                                                                          
documents to remain public, the  public should have access                                                                      
to that information immediately.  He waived confidentiality                                                                     
several months ago and he sees  the committee acting as if                                                                      
he had not waived confidentiality  and continue to proceed                                                                      
under confidential rules. The rules were designed to                                                                            
protect the subject, himself, and yet that confidentiality                                                                      
is actually being used against him as the recipient of that                                                                     
complaint. Please review those rules, please discuss with                                                                       
counsel what it is that a complaint recipient is entitled                                                                       
to when it comes to transparency for the public, to him, to                                                                     
the relevant documents. He said he still sees a desire on                                                                       
the part of the committee for executive sessions and                                                                            
confidentiality and disallowing the public to see the                                                                           
relevant documents, which statute makes clear that the                                                                          
public is entitled to see. Thank you.                                                                                           
Conner Thomas entertained additional comments. There were                                                                       
now additional comments.                                                                                                        
Conner Thomas moved to the next agenda item.                                                                                    
10:18:21 AM                                                                                                                 
4. COMPLAINTS AND MOTION TO GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION                                                                       
Conner Thomas reminded everyone that attendance at                                                                              
executive session will be limited to members of the                                                                             
committee and essential personnel, as determined by the                                                                         
committee. In cases of discussion, investigation, data                                                                          
gathering, interviews, deliberations or decision making on                                                                      
complaints prior to probable cause determination, neither                                                                       
the subject of the complaint, nor any other legislator not                                                                      
on the appropriate subcommittee, will be allowed in the                                                                         
executive session.                                                                                                              
The two complaints [the subcommittee] will be taking up                                                                         
today are Complaints H 22-01 and H 22-02 in executive                                                                           
session in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the                                                                        
committee. Both of these complaints had a waiver of                                                                             
confidentiality filed by the respective subject of the                                                                          
complaint. We therefore offer the following brief summary                                                                       
of the complaints.                                                                                                              
   a. H 22-01 has Representative Chris Kurka as the subject                                                                     
    of the complaint. It contains allegations that the                                                                          
     Representative allegedly violated AS24.60.010(2) and                                                                       
     AS 24.60.030(a)(2) by allowing a person to use state                                                                       
     resources for a private benefit.                                                                                           
   b. H 22-02 has Representative David Eastman as the                                                                           
     subject of the complaint. It contains allegations that                                                                     
     the Representative allegedly violated AS24.60.010(2)                                                                       
    and AS 24.60.030(a)(2) by allowing a person to use                                                                          
     state resources for a private benefit.                                                                                     
   c. The House subcommittee met on each of these complaints                                                                    
     and issued a scope of investigation. An investigation                                                                      
    report has been prepared in each of these cases and                                                                         
     the subcommittee may be prepared to go into executive                                                                      
     session to further consider and deliberate on each of                                                                      
     the complaints.                                                                                                            
Conner Thomas entertained a motion to go into executive                                                                         
session to discuss matters which  by law must remain                                                                            
confidential under AS 24.60.160, Uniform Rule 22(b)                                                                             
regarding executive sessions, and Rules of Procedure                                                                            
Section 5: Executive Sessions and discussion of matters,                                                                        
the immediate knowledge of would adversely affect the                                                                           
finances of a governmental unit, and discussion of subjects                                                                     
that tend to prejudice the reputation and character of a                                                                        
Motion made by: Joyce Anderson                                                                                                  
There was no objection.                                                                                                         
10:20:37 AM                                                                                                                 
5. EXECUTIVE SESSION                                                                                                        
11:55 a.m.                                                                                                                  
6. PUBLIC SESSION                                                                                                           
Chair Conner Thomas called the meeting back to order at                                                                         
11:55 a.m. and stated that in light of waivers of                                                                               
confidentiality the committee would announce some of the                                                                        
decisions made in executive session.                                                                                            
Conner Thomas said that in H 22-01 Representative Kurka, a                                                                      
majority of the House Subcommittee members approved                                                                             
additional investigation.                                                                                                       
Conner Thomas said that in H 22-02 Representative Eastman,                                                                      
a majority of the House Subcommittee members approved                                                                           
additional investigation.                                                                                                       
Conner Thomas said that a future meeting date will be set                                                                       
depending on the outcome of the additional investigation.                                                                       
7. OTHER BUSINESS                                                                                                           
Conner Thomas asked Jerry Anderson to talk about future                                                                         
meeting plans.                                                                                                                  
Jerry Anderson said that ethics training was set for                                                                            
January 18 in Juneau. If the committee combines training                                                                        
with a meeting, the committee could meet on January 19. He                                                                      
said he would proceed with those plans unless there were                                                                        
objections to that.                                                                                                             
Conner Thomas entertained discussion.                                                                                           
Conner Thomas asked if Jerry Anderson if he wanted the                                                                          
committee to approve those dates.                                                                                               
Jerry Anderson responded that he needed leadership to                                                                           
confirm those dates.                                                                                                            
Conner Thomas noted that the dates are tentative. He asked                                                                      
Jerry Anderson if there were additional items to discuss.                                                                       
Joyce Anderson asked if the committee needed a motion to                                                                        
secure additional funds for the continuing investigation of                                                                     
the complaints.                                                                                                                 
Conner Thomas thanked Joyce Anderson for reminding and                                                                          
asked if she wanted to make the motion.                                                                                         
Joyce Anderson moved that the committee ask for a $15,000                                                                       
budget increase to continue investigating the two                                                                               
complaints under discussion in the executive session.                                                                           
Conner Thomas entertained discussion of the motion. Hearing                                                                     
none, Conner Thomas directed Jerry Anderson to conduct a                                                                        
roll call vote.                                                                                                                 
Roll call vote                                                                                                                
Joyce Anderson                 Yes                                                                                              
Jerry McBeath                  Yes                                                                                              
Conner Thomas                  Yes                                                                                              
Representative DeLena Johnson  Yes                                                                                              
Representative Sara Hannan     Yes                                                                                              
The motion passed 5-0.                                                                                                          
Conner Thomas entertained other business.                                                                                       
8. ADJOURN                                                                                                                  
Conner Thomas entertained a motion to adjourn.                                                                                  
Representative Sara Hannan so moved. There were no                                                                              
Conner Thomas adjourned the meeting.                                                                                            
11:56 a.m.                                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
20221118 House SC agenda BASIS.pdf JETH 11/18/2022 10:00:00 AM