Monday, September 3, 2012

I Get Invited to Rep. Mike Doogan's Party

I'm getting about five phone calls per day to attend or help organize fundraisers for candidates in the upcoming local October and in the November elections.

Today I got seven.

The most hilarious one, sort of went like this:
Caller:  Is this Phil Munger. 
Me:  Yes, How may I help you. 
Caller: I'm calling on behalf of [name of organization withheld] to invite you to a fundraiser on Wednesday that also honors outgoing State Rep. Mike Doogan, upon his retirement from the Legislature.  Would you be interested in attending? 
Me:  It might not be a good idea. 
Caller:  Pardon? 
Me:  It might not be a good idea.  He might feel uncomfortable if I were there. 
Caller:  Oh...  Why? 
Me:  Back in early 2009, he cruelly betrayed a person who was once a friend of mine.  In a fairly nasty way that cost her a significant amount of money and harm. 
Caller:  Oh, dear. 
Me:  I wrote about it.  A lot.  Mike would feel uncomfortable were I there, and I don't want to disturb his health.  Since he's had health problems, I've prayed for him and sent him good thoughts in that regard, but I don't want to disturb him with my presence when he is being honored. 
Caller:  I see. Well, thanks anyway.
As part of my celebration of Doogan's retirement, here is the email exchange we had when he attempted to obtain Jeanne Devon's identity from me in late 2008.

They were sent from his legislative email account, so are public record.  I'm in violet, he is in red:

Dear Rep. Doogan,

Although I wasn't one of the many concerned Alaskans who have written to you about possible executive ethics actions being addressed by the upcoming session of the Alaska Legislature, I've had an opportunity to read a response you sent out to a number of people who had sent similar mailings to you. One part of this communication from you interested me:

Third, I intend to move forward with legislation to prevent a
re-occurrence of some of the problematic behavior that has arisen
from the mess commonly called Troopergate. That legislation will
define more closely what is a public document and seek to prevent
public officials from shielding their communications by using
private email accounts, and the state from stifling public access
by charging an arm and a leg.

This is an excellent idea, Rep. Doogan!

I would like to recommend that you consider also looking at tightening travel regulations for the members of the chief executive's family. Gov. Palin's trip to New York City in 2008 with one of her daughters, to speak very briefly on one day, then spend the work week in a pricey hotel with her child, at taxpayers'expense, shouldn't merely be unauthorized, I feel it should be criminal activity entered into the "fraud" statutes of Title 11.

I am also disturbed to read of Todd Palin's access to confidential personnel files and other sensitive materials, as described by ex-commissioner Walt Monegan, in his statements to investigator Steven Branchflower.

Although I am not a constituent, as an officer of the Alaska Democratic Party, I eagerly await your reply to my earnest query.


Philip Munger


Read your email. Thanks for sending it. You expressed several
opinions, but asked no question. So what query would you like me to
respond to?



Thanks for your prompt response. Here are questions, in three sets:

1.) You seem to be proposing legislation that tightens the definition of what a public document is. I assume by referencing both private e-mail use by state employees and elected officials, and proposing to address the "charging an arm and a leg" for access to state government documents, you are looking at
something fairly
 comprehensive. Have you begun to articulate what that might be in terms of a bill?

2.) The trip by Gov. Palin to NYC last year, upon which she brought one of her daughters at state expense, to be at a 4-hour (or shorter) gig, and then to stay on for days (with the daughter) at an expensive hotel at taxpayers' expense, is highly questionable, ethically. Have you looked at how the Governor felt she could get away with this?

Have you or any other legislative members looked into how the first
 family's travel and expense account prerogatives can be tightened so this kind of activity cannot happen? Do you contemplate any legislative action over the next two sessions which might tighten executive travel and expense rules?

3.) I'm bothered that Todd Palin has access to the kinds of personnel information and other documents that are alluded to in the Branchflower Report. Do you know for sure that Mr. Palin is not on the state payroll for any of his activities, either as a consultant to the governor, or as a sub-contractor, for instance, in the remodeling/renovation of the Juneau mansion?

If he is not a paid employee, consultant or sub-contractor of the state, what specifically gives him the right to go through the kinds of documentation described by Monegan in the Branchflower report? If Mr. Palin merely felt he could gain access to documents I would have had to, under this administration's policies, pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to see, then we need to - IMHO -fix at least one serious flaw in statutes or administrative code.

I hope this formats my interests in a more helpful way.


Phil Munger


Thanks, that's a much better set of questions. Now, why are you
asking? Running low on fodder for your blog? And if it's not for
the blog, why are you asking me instead of your own representative?


PS: Who writes the Mudflats blog?


I'm asking because you are the first member of the House who has expressed interest in any of the issues I feel fall under the general cover of executive ethics reform, to the point of beginning to articulate a proposed bill.

If you check with Kay Brown, you'll find out that I have expressed explicit interest in the issue that you brought up in the email I referenced, since the issuance of the Branchflower Report. She can also verify that I hoped as early as mid-October, to interest Democratic Party legislators in taking the mantle of so-called "reform" away from Sarah Palin between now and May, 2009.

I feel you and I both have the responsibility of keeping her away from ever again getting as close to national office as she came between August 29th and November 4th, 2008. As you may know, Rep. Doogan, your district went for Obama by over 200 votes.

In regard to why I don't bring this up with Carl, - I have.

Although I like Carl Gatto and his wife as neighbors, I feel he
 will do little to bring executive branch legislation to the fore. I'll be back in touch with him about this between now and the opening of the 2009 session.

As a Democrat, and as one who seeks to help build a Democratic Party majority in the Alaska legislature, I hope members of my party in the legislature can be at the forefront of needed reform legislation, whether it be of the executive branch, or more fine tuning of your own branch.

I am not "running low on fodder for [my] blog." As you've probably figured out, I posted my initial letter to you on this at Progressive Alaska. But at this point, I only hope to develop a constructive dialog with you on reform legislation, with a final goal of helping our legislature getting it passed, and am only hoping at this point, to be able to put a far more positive face on how you're dealing with this than have others.

I've had my blog for almost 14 months now. Some of my readers have a higher regard for it than does the proprietor. I try to learn from my readers and from those who comment, and to make headway in the craft of essay writing. Unlike legislators and ADN columnists, I get to swear openly from time to time.

A friend of mine writes the Mudflats blog. He or she lives in a neighboring district of yours, not mine. There is concern that to go public might be detrimental to Mudflats' professional and/orbusiness situation.

I'm copying this to Kay, as further indication to you that she is aware of how important I feel executive ethics reform is to Alaska, and to Alaska's Democratic Party elected Representatives. (Kay is not "Mudflats," BTW.)

Phil Munger


Thanks for the response.

I think that if blogging might be detrimental to the "professional and/or business situation" of the person writing Mudlfats, then he/she shouldn't be doing it. But even if it is, are your arguing that it's okay for people to stand in the shadows and shout into the public debate? What next? Hoods and torches?

How does you keeping this person's name a secret comport with your "let's put everything on the blog" ethic? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth, Phil. As long as you are going to pick and choose what information you make public, there's really no reason for me to communicate with you.

Good luck with your own representative.


Rep. Doogan,

You indicated earlier that you wanted my interest framed as questions. Now you seem to indicate you don't intend to answer them. Or am I misreading your statements, "As long as you are going to pick and choose what information you make public, there's really no reason for me to communicate with you," and "Good luck with your own representative"?



Sorry if I only indicated that I would not answer them. I will not answer them for you.


Rep. Doogan,

Thank you for your consideration, or should I say, lack thereof, in this matter.

Warmest regards, and wishing you and yours a very happy new year,

Phil Munger


Anonymous said...

But surely you will send a card. Mr Phil. AKjah.

Philip Munger said...

I don't think so, AKjah

HarpboyAK said...

Doo-Doo Doogan couldn't retire soon enough. I once liked his columns, but he was a vindictive and lousy legislator.