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Richard Mauer

Anchorage oil consultant and blogger Brad Keithley said Wednesday he plans to create his own super-PAC-like political organization to support legislative candidates who would reduce state spending.

Keithley, who considered a run for governor this year, said he planned to put about $200,000 of his own money into the independent effort. He said he would be nonpartisan in his approach and wouldn’t concern himself with social or other nonfiscal issues.

He described his own political outlook as libertarian and in a recent interview cited the third-party presidential bid of billionaire H.Ross Perot in 1992 as a model for highlighting government spending.

“I believe in what Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton said: The best social policy is a job,” Keithley said...

Richard Mauer

Which oil-tax system is best for Alaska’s future?

When voters make the choice on primary day, Aug. 19, between ACES and MAPA, will they have facts to help them decide? Or will they be voting their feelings about the oil industry, love it or hate it, trust it or suspect it?

In the run up to the referendum on repealing Senate Bill 21, the 2013 law that replaced ACES with a tax regime sought by industry, information about what either tax would do in the years ahead has been contradictory and equivocal.

“The vote is about the future -- and there are no facts about the future,” said Roger Marks, a former state petroleum economist and now a private consultant who wants to keep SB 21, the tax cuts known as the More Alaska Production Act...

Richard Mauer

A former federal agriculture official in Alaska was found guilty this week of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cover up the fraud of a business partner in Valley Dairy Inc.

Karen Olson, 68, of Wasilla, was found guilty by an Anchorage jury of two felonies, both involving federally backed state loans for the dairy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday. Federal prosecutors obtained the convictions Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage...

Richard Mauer

Gov. Sean Parnell on Thursday named the public members of a board created to review the state’s oil and gas tax regime, and all have ties to industry, including two who used to work for Veco, the defunct oil-field contractor at the center of the 2006 corruption scandal tied to oil taxes.

The 11-member Oil and Gas Competitiveness Review Board was created by Senate Bill 21 as a way to measure whether the bill’s tax cuts and other state laws and regulations are improving oil-field activity and production...

Richard Mauer

With a month to go until the referendum on the 2013 oil-tax cuts, the industry and its allies are outgunning the advocates of repeal by more than 100 to one.

Four organizations favor keeping the 2013 tax law, sought by Gov. Sean Parnell and backed by Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature, and they've raised more than $13.5 million combined and spent $12.2 million. Two groups back repeal and they've raised $115,500 and spent almost $109,000, according to an Alaska Dispatch News analysis of several dozen public campaign reports, which are supposed to be filed within 10 days of spending activity...

Richard Mauer

A state agency has rejected a complaint that parents who volunteered to spend the last month of the legislative session in Juneau seeking money for schools should have registered as paid lobbyists.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission staff took only a day to determine there was no merit to the complaint filed Wednesday by former middle school math teacher and legislative candidate David Nees.

In her letter rejecting the complaint, an APOC staffer told Nees that even if his allegations were true, there would be no violation of the law because the parents were unpaid and their lobbying trips unsubsidized by others...

Richard Mauer

Legislators will have to make do with old furniture from storage and state surplus when they move into their remodeled digs in Anchorage next year, but the Legislative Council approved a $500,000 budget for new furnishings in hearing rooms, public spaces and staff offices.

The council, a House-Senate committee that runs the Legislature’s business, also decided Monday to take the high bid to purchase and install audio and visual systems in the upgraded office building, a $343,246 deal with Chariot Group Inc. The low bidder was Pyramid Audio Video for $290,817.

Pam Varni, executive director of the Legislative Affairs Agency, said Chariot achieved a higher overall score from the committee that reviewed the bids...

Richard Mauer

An attempt by Rep. Wes Keller, a Wasilla Republican, to send bullets for his handgun, an aerosol spray can and a cigarette lighter to Juneau by air will cost the state at least a $7,000 fine, the chairman of the Legislature’s housekeeping committee said Wednesday.

In an interview later, Keller said the mistake was all his. He said his plan is to reimburse the state for the penalty.

“It’s embarrassing, very embarrassing,” Keller said. “I should’ve known.”...

Richard Mauer

WASILLA — The local Chamber of Commerce invited candidates for governor to its luncheon Tuesday, and it got what it asked for: the guy in an American flag do-rag who said his first order of business would be to start impeachment proceedings against Barack HUSSEIN Obama (he emphasized the middle name), and the guy from Seward who’s been running for so long (1998) that he’s registered his operation — the Governor’s Group LLC — with the state division of corporations and lists his name there as “Governor Brad Snowden.”

Oh, and they also heard from Byron Mallott, the leading Democrat, and Bill Walker, the independent...

Richard Mauer

As closing arguments were delivered in the Native voting rights lawsuit in federal court, the Alaska Federation of Natives announced Thursday it was leading an effort to bring in-person absentee voting to nearly every village in the state.

The double-barreled effort by Native rights advocates comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court weakened U.S. Voting Rights Act protections for minorities, including those in Alaska, in a case brought by Shelby County, Ala. The state of Alaska filed a brief in support of Shelby County while AFN filed in opposition...

Richard Mauer