Friday, June 15, 2012

AK-AL U.S. House Candidate Forum This Evening in Palmer

image by Dark Black
This evening, the Mat-Su Democrats will host four of the five Democratic Primary candidates, running for a shot at Rep. Don Young in the fall election, in a forum:
June 15 Egan Dinner Forum at Turkey Red, You won't want to miss this one.  

Four of the five Democratic candidates running to challenge Don Young for his Congressional seat will be featured in a Forum sponsored by the MatSu Democrats on Friday evening, June 15. The event will be held at Turkey Red Restaurant in Palmer from 6-8:30PM. Appetizers will be served from 6-6:30 with beer and wine available for purchase. In addition, a silent "dessert" auction will take place. The Forum will begin at 6:30 with local Composer/Blogger Phil Munger moderating. Candidates Sharon Cissna (Anchorage), Debra Chesnut (Fairbanks), Matt Moore (Anchorage) and Doug Urquidi (Eagle River) will be participating. Frank Vondersaar (Homer) had a prior commitment. This will be a great opportunity for the community to hear from these congressional hopefuls.
I'm honored to be the moderator for this kickoff event.  I've been covering and writing about Rep. Young since mid-2006, though I haven't written anything substantial about the congressman for quite a while.  The most recent article by one of the progressive Alaskan bloggers was earlier this month, when Steve Aufrecht at What Do I Know? noted attorney Cliff Groh's essay about items having to do with the Department of Justice's long-standing, but most likely terminated investigation of Young for corruption:
This posts builds from Cliff Groh's post at Alaska Political Corruption that cites Charlie Savage's New York Times' May 31 article about the Public Integrity Section's (PIN) checkered record of late. PIN's the Justice Department branch that prosecuted the Alaska corruption cases, including the Stevens case, and the John Edward's [sic] case, but dropped their case against Don Young. It also includes links to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's (CREW) report on the documents it got through Freedom of Information Act requests from DOJ regarding Don Young.
Aufrecht doesn't go much further than noting the coverage, though his links are very helpful.  Especially the link to the CREW Report.  Neither Groh nor Aufrecht published the report itself.  I've read it, and find it interesting comparing the recent report to my 2006 article for Down With Tyranny.  Though I wrote then about some of the matters investigated by the Department of Justice, they investigated other things, and I covered serious matters not indicated in the DOJ paper work we've yet seen.

As part of bringing attention to Rep. Young on this kickoff day for our Democratic Party's bringing candidates to the fore, I'm going to publish the entire CREW report on Young, and I'll repost the 2006 article I wrote for Howie Klein at DWT.

As an aside,  I'll note some thoughts I've had recently about the candidates the Democrats have put up against Young since Alaska political corruption came to national attention in 2006:

Diane Benson and Tony Vita were my guests at a May concert given by the Anchorage Youth Symphony and the Anchorage Concert Chorus.  As we headed from the lobby to the hall, we passed Ethan Berkowitz, his wife Mara Kimmel, and their two kids, Hannah and Noah.  As we talked about kids and music, I thought, "What a helluva good first family these four would have made!"

When Diane Benson got almost 42% of the vote against Don Young in 2006, even though though he outspent her eight to one, people got a wake-up call.  Although the Anchorage-based Democratic Party organization was loathe to help her at all, some in Fairbanks, including the imaginative (now incoming party chair) Mike Wenstrup, found money to help her campaign get on the air during the closing weeks of October.  Had the party gotten behind Benson in early September, and gotten national support that brought attention to Young's corruption, we might now be looking at supporting Diane Benson in her bid for a fourth term in the U.S. House.

When I saw the votes roll in on election night 2008, I was as shocked as anyone else to see the huge gulf between everyone's polling data, and what was coming up on the screen on the Berkowitz-Young contest.  I'm still suspicious that that particular race was manipulated somehow through the electronic voting process.

No comments: