Parnell lays out the rules for Alaska's lieutenant governor

DUTIES: Commissioners showed concern, he said.

August 8, 2011 

JUNEAU -- Gov. Sean Parnell has moved to rein in his lieutenant governor, insinuating that Mead Treadwell overstepped the boundaries Parnell set for him when he took office last year.

In a letter dated July 28 and reported in newspapers over the weekend, Parnell clarified Treadwell's role in his administration, spelling out the constitutional role for Treadwell's job as duties being written in law and delegated by the governor. He underlined the last bit, just as he had in a Dec. 30 letter doling out additional responsibilities he wanted Treadwell to take on -- regarding Arctic and sea floor mapping issues -- if Treadwell were willing.

In both areas, apparently, Parnell felt Treadwell was going too far.

In last month's letter, the governor said Treadwell's designation to the Arctic Council and Arctic Research Commission wasn't meant to be a "broad delegation of authority in every Arctic policy area but rather my delegation to have you represent the State of Alaska before these organizations." Parnell also asked Treadwell not to invoke his name or that of the governor's office to direct agency, board or commission personnel.

"Commissioners have expressed concern over not knowing something is being requested of their lower level staff by you and your office staff," Parnell wrote in the letter, which was also copied to his commissioners and top Treadwell aides. "Additionally, you and I have discussed the concern and confusion generated by you attempting to direct agency work. I need to assure that Commissioners are in the communication loop and that they direct work in the agencies, boards and commissions."

Treadwell, in a statement Monday, said Parnell's "direction to communicate through his commissioners is an important reminder and we're following it. There should be no question; I'm here to support the governor."

Parnell's spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said the letters speak for themselves. She added that Parnell and Treadwell are "committed to working together in the best interests of Alaska" but declined further comment.

While rumors of a spat between the two men circulated earlier this year, Treadwell told The Associated Press in an interview just weeks before the letter was issued that he had a good working relationship with Parnell, a fellow Republican committed, as he said he is, to causes including boosting oil production in the state.

Treadwell, who served as chairman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, said Parnell is Alaska's voice on Arctic issues, though "I have certainly carried the state's message again and again."

In the December letter, which came as Parnell was organizing his new administration, he told Treadwell that any delegation of duties "requires alignment between us on the end goals and strategies to get there. If we aren't aligned, your activities risk upending solid, ongoing work done by others across years and limit your potential to work across a broader spectrum of issues."

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