The man who a Federal Marshall described to me last year as "one of the few true Alaska heroes," is on trial. Currently, his name doesn't appear on the agenda as a candidate speaking before the 2008 Democratic Party Convention. Wednesday, in Anchorage, the Democratic Party Central Committee will decide whether or not Metcalfe has broken a rule that appears to have been crafted for no other reason than to derail Ray in his run for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming August primary election. He stands accused - I'm not allowed to say by whom - of having disparaged former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles. This breaks, according to his accuser, Article II, Section 6, of the current "Party Plan."
Progressive Alaska covered aspects of this last month.
Ray Metcalfe isn't accused of saying anything untrue. And Metcalfe isn't about to back down. He's about to make an important new announcement in the same area - his staunch belief that Alaska needs to follow a new path in its relationship with powerful corporate interests.
The central committee will be voting on whether or not to "suspend the rules" regarding Article II, Section 6 of the party plan. For Ray to be vindicated and to be able to address the convention, he needs 2/3 of the committee to vote for suspension. Interestingly, his all-but-certain opponent in the primary, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich is in favor of Metcalfe's being accommodated.
It doesn't take an Einstein or a Begich to realize that it is far better for the Democratic Party to have Ray "inside of the tent, pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in," as Lyndon Johnson so eloquently put it decades ago. I suppose he's actually being accused of being "inside the tent, pissing in."
Having a party's establishment attenuate or alienate this persistently productive maverick at a time when the vast majority of independent and non-partisan Alaskans are tired of old school politics, paints my party in those peoples' minds as being similar to the antiquated antics of the GOP old guard.
Being a college teacher, with well over 100 students, I hear about the levels of dissatisfaction among young people about the cynicism of party politics. For the old guard of the Democrats to act against Alaska's greatest muckraker will not attract a single vote toward the party, neither in August nor in November. It will do the opposite. That's a sure bet.
Update: Ray Metcalfe's statement to the Alaska Democratic Party Central Committee:
The Central Committee enjoyed the fact that my fingering of Republicans for corruption has probably done more to make democrats electable than any single event in state history. However they voted to endorse my opponent for the democratic nomination and deny me access to state party services after my spotlight on corruption demonstrated that Governor Knowles took $59,000 in bribes from Veco, ARCO, and BP when he was Governor. (See Attached. Dates and check numbers are included.)
Realizing that they may have shot themselves in the foot, the Central Committee has been called into a special meeting to reconsider their action. I would appreciate your attendance and your review of the attached before you come.
When the Democratic Party Central Committee was embarrassed into reversing its decision to omit me from the Democratic Party website, Central Committee spokesperson Kay Brown said, “It wasn’t worth fighting over.” However the reason for which I was expelled is worth fighting over. Party Officials, who condone corruption by their silence, need to be sent packing.
When I was fighting an uphill battle to expose the corruption of Ben Stevens, Ted Stevens, Veco and others, I sought the help of Representative Ethan Berkowitz, Former Democratic Party Chairman Jake Metcalfe, and Spokesperson Kay Brown. I hand delivered to their desks the same documents I had sent to the U.S. Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington DC. I followed up with dozens of phone calls asking for help. Not one of those phone calls was returned.
The Democratic Party leaders who refused to help then are now attempting to wrap themselves in the flag of reform while ignoring the corruption in their own Party and ditching the messenger.
Attached are four documents in a zip file, that, when viewed in total, offer insight into how this “Good Old Boy” system of mutual palm-greasing works. Most of the attached files address corruption amongst Republicans. However, to omit all Democrats while telling the story of political corruption in Alaska would be to lie by omission.
· One document is titled "Ben’s Bribes in a Nutshell" published June of 2006. It is the document that brought Ben Stevens and his father under scrutiny for laundering a few million dollars from the Federal Treasury through the Alaska Fish Marketing Board into the hands of a few wealthy seafood processors, who paid a tidy portion back into the pockets of Ben Stevens.
· Another is titled "Bribery, 1981 to 2008, Part One." It blows [out of the ARCO's, and BP's arguments that they knew nothing of Veco's bribery in 2006 out of the water. That argument won’t sell to a jury that knows those same companies were knowingly making payments directly to accounts controlled by Tony Knowles in 1996, and getting favors in return. That’s what the document clearly demonstrates.
· A third attachment titled "Base Housing to the National Archives" draws the connections between Ted Stevens, Ben Stevens, and Mark Begich, all doing political favors for John Rubini, a business partner they all share. Ted Stevens Ben Stevens and Mark Begich each used their offices, each adding their part to deals that made millions for Rubini.-- Deals Rubini could not have consummated without the assistance both of them. Stevens and Begich have both since personally profited quite handsomely at the hand of John Rubini.
· The fourth document titled "Parking Lease Appraisal" demonstrates how Mark Begich used a parking lot lease to launder city money into the pockets of a wealthy contributor.
If it acts like a kickback, smells like a bribe, or looks like money laundering, it probably is and it’s not OK to ignore it just because it is by a Democrat.
Until both parties adopt a “Zero Tolerance for Corruption platform,” Alaska will continue to be plagued by corruption. Leaders who protect party members until the handcuffs appear are part of the problem.
Kay Brown claims the Central Committee voted to expel me from the Democratic Party website for my denunciation of Tony Knowles. I challenge Kay Brown, Ethan Berkowitz, Jake Metcalfe, and every member of the Central Committee who voted to expel me, to review the attached documents and as Sarah Palin said in reference to Randy Ruedrich, “Take a stand.” Did Tony Knowles and party officials launder bribes from Veco, Arco, and BP or didn’t they? Is Mark Begich laundering city money through a bogus parking lot lease into the pockets of Mark Pfeffer or isn’t he? Do you think these matters should be reviewed by a Grand Jury?
These are all yes or no questions and silence is acceptance. The Democratic Party’s vanguard didn’t have the courage to stand up to corruption before; and I’m betting they won’t have the courage today. Prove me wrong. Joining with the rank-and-file Democrats, who do place their commitment to their principles above their commitment to any political party. Join the “Not in Our Party Campaign” today.
Update - Thursday morning: Ray Metcalfe will be allowed to address the 2008 Democratic Party convention. I've accepted Mark Begich's request in the comments to call him about Ray's allegations regarding Begich, and called him. I'm awaiting his return call.
Metcalfe receiving Cook Inletkeeper's Muckraker of the Year Award in Homer last year. Image by Layton Ehmke, Homer Tribune.