In a recent commentary, Ray Metcalfe wrote that Dan Sullivan, while serving as attorney general in 2009 and 2010, did not respond to criminal allegations involving certain Alaskans. I had the honor of serving as Dan’s special assistant at the Department of Law during his tenure, witnessed how Dan dealt with these matters, and wanted to correct the record.
The only reason Bill Allen was not criminally prosecuted was because the federal government denied Dan’s repeated requests to do so. Upon becoming aware of Allen’s alleged sex crimes with an underage victim, Dan wanted answers. He demanded that the Alaska Department of Law re-open its closed investigation into this matter. After conducting a lengthy investigation in 2010 with the Anchorage Police Department, which included interviews with the victim, the Alaska Department of Law concluded that Allen could not be prosecuted under Alaska law because all of the elements for a criminal charge could not be met, but that Allen could be prosecuted under federal law for violating the Mann Act -- transporting the victim across state lines for the purpose of prostitution or illicit sexual activity.
Dan then directed Richard Svobodny, the deputy attorney general for the Criminal Division, to write Department of Justice officials and request that they provide all evidence related to their investigation into Allen’s criminal activity and to also allow the Alaska Department of Law to be cross-designated so it could have the authority to prosecute Allen for violating federal law.
The Department of Justice refused the state’s request for cross-designation. Incensed about this, Dan called a senior Department of Justice official repeating the request for cross-designation and asking if the Department of Justice had a plea deal with Allen that would prevent cross-designation. The Department of Justice official denied there was such a plea deal, but continued to refuse the state’s request for cross-designation because it “would set a bad precedent.”
Allen, therefore, was not prosecuted for alleged federal sex crimes because the Department of Justice would not give the Alaska Department of Law the authority to prosecute him. Thus, the only question that needs to be answered is why did Obama administration officials refuse Dan’s request to cross-designate state prosecutors to pursue a federal criminal action against Allen.
Metcalfe’s other claims in his compass piece are also wrong. Metcalfe writes that Dan “did nothing” in response to corruption allegations surrounding Ben Stevens. When Dan became attorney general in the spring of 2009, he recused himself from any matter involving the Stevens family because of his family’s close personal relationship with the Stevenses. Consistent with Dan’s high standards for ethical conduct, Dan did the right thing and recused himself from this matter.
Finally, Metcalfe alleges that in 2009 Sullivan “came to the defense of Lesil McGuire” because he refused to criminally prosecute Lesil for allegedly working on legislation that benefited one of her clients. Metcalfe had filed two lengthy complaints in 2007 with the Alaska Public Offices Commission against McGuire on this same issue. APOC reviewed Metcalfe’s complaints and determined that McGuire’s conduct did not violate state disclosure law. Deputy Attorney General Svobodny also reviewed Metcalfe’s materials and the APOC findings and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to open a criminal investigation.
Over the past 20 years, Dan Sullivan has been a tireless public servant for our state and country. Dan’s number one priority as attorney general was to do everything within his power to reduce Alaska’s horrendous rates of domestic violence and sexual assault. Dan worked on this issue by developing and implementing the Parnell administration’s Choose Respect campaign, which included making changes to our criminal laws, securing more funds for victim services, increasing pro bono representation for victims, raising public awareness, and hiring more troopers and Village Police Officers. He also devoted significant time to individual cases.
Instead of wasting time reading baseless attacks on Dan, Alaskans need to come together and do everything we can to put an end to the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Jon Katchen served as then-Attorney General Dan Sullivan’s special assistant from 2009 until 2012 at the Alaska Department of Law and Department of Natural Resources. He now works at a law firm in Anchorage.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.