UPDATED: Governor does 'state business' at meeting of evangelical group

UPDATED: Parnell gets 'many good ideas' from Focus on the Family, spokeswoman tells Alaska Dispatch.

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Gov. Sean Parnell and his Anchorage office director traveled to Colorado at state expense this week for meetings with the evangelical group Focus on the Family, reports AlaskaDispatch.com. The group describes itself as "a global Christian ministry ... [providing] help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God's design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles."

Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said topics discussed during the daylong session in Colorado included foster care and the governor's domestic violence and sexual assault initiative. Leighow confirmed the trip was considered state business -- the state paid for the travel and Parnell was accompanied by a state employee, Cindy Sims, director of the governor's Anchorage office -- but she did not have immediate access to the full agenda or the topics covered and she did not know whether the meetings were hosted by Focus of the Family, its political action arm, CitizenLink (which until recently was called Focus on the Family Action), or another related organization. Leighow was also not able to offer specifics about the meetings -- size, scope or other attendees -- but she expected to have more information following the governor's return to Juneau.

Democratic candidates hoping to defeat Parnell in the upcoming election critized Parnell's Colorado trip, saying he's pandering to social conservatives. GOP challenger Bill Walker said he doesn't understand how the trip meshed with state business.

On Thursday, Parnell vetoed funding to expand the Denali KidCare program, citing its funding for abortions as a reason. The program mainly provides health insurance coverage for children and pregnant women in low-income families. The veto prompted a prayer-vigil protest outside Parnell's Anchorage office.

Meanwhile, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan on Tuesday sought Assembly approval for the appointment of David William Bronson to the Anchorage School Budget Advisory Committee. Bronson's resume (published in part at the Mudflats blog) states he has been active in opposing gay-rights initiatives in the city and supporting the current parental notification abortion initiative. He also claims longtime membership in Alaska Baptist Temple and leadership of a children's bible ministry. His children are reportedly homeschooled. The Assembly postponed the appointment vote for two weeks.