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Fleener apologizes for accusation, but Parnell won't say sorry back

Alex DeMarban

Lieutenant governor candidate Craig Fleener apologized Sunday night for calling Gov. Sean Parnell a last-minute no-show at a recent conference on Native issues. But Parnell’s campaign manager says the governor won’t apologize for saying Fleener lied.

Meanwhile, the episode has led to an ethics complaint being filed against Parnell.

Fleener had written in a recent commentary that Parnell did not give the opening remarks at the National Congress of American Indians gathering in Anchorage, as organizers expected, because he’d been stuck in traffic. 

Parnell shot back, issuing a statement accusing Fleener of deliberately spreading falsehoods. In fact, Parnell had given due notice to organizers that he would not speak because he would attend an out-of-town family event, Parnell said.

Fleener, campaigning as an independent with Parnell challenger Bill Walker, said in a statement, “It is now known that Parnell declined the invitation by email to the NCAI office manager but apparently the information never made it to the meeting coordinators, Alaska Native leaders, or conference attendees and Parnell remained on the program.  While I did check my sources all the way to the top of those in charge at the conference, I apologize for stating Governor Parnell was an unexcused no-show.”

Fleener also asked for an apology from Parnell, as well as Parnell campaign manager Jerry Gallagher, for calling him a liar.

Gallagher on Monday morning said there would be no apology from him or Parnell. “The criticism stands,” Gallagher said.

Meanwhile, Lynda Zaugg, secretary for the Alaska Democratic Party, filed a complaint with the state Law Department on Friday saying Parnell violated the state ethics act when his state office issued a press release demanding Fleener correct the record.

Sharon Leighow, Parnell’s press secretary, said the press release came from Parnell’s state office because conference organizers had sent the invitation there, asking the governor to give the opening remarks.

Zaugg said that’s not good enough. “When you have something political in nature and want to respond, you need to step outside the office and respond (only) as the campaign,” she said.