To Sen. Lisa Murkowski, from 14 Alaskans: Stand for the Republic

Editor's note: Kate Troll and 13 other Alaskans are using her column this week as an open letter to Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

We are all Alaskans who have been involved in public life here. We know you to have exercised independent judgement and are capable of putting country first. We implore you to do so now, when the integrity and stability of our democracy is at risk.

For the first time in our history, we have a president under federal investigation for possible collusion with a hostile foreign power. With President Donald Trump now admitting, "this Russia thing," was part of his rationale for firing FBI Director James Comey, the stakes are extremely high.

At risk is the potential debasement of those critical "checks and balances" our founders installed in our governing institutions.

In The New York Times, columnist Timothy Egan pleads, "We're looking for a few good men and women in Congress to understand the gravity of this debasement. We don't need more parsing about the bad: "optics" or "timing" of Trump firing the man who could have ended his presidency. We need a Republican in power to call it what it is: a bungled attempt to obstruct justice."

He then lists the names of Republicans who might step up and defend the Republic as they were sworn to do — Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and you. We are not surprised to see you on this list of potential statesmen in this time of constitutional crisis.

[Republican lawmakers show growing concerns over Trump controversies]


Watergate taught us the president is above the law. But this lesson would not have happened without the appointment of an independent prosecutor.  Watergate also taught us that high-level investigations have a way of derailing progress on all other pressing issues.

The country comes to a standstill while politicians posture and parse words from one news cycle to the next. As the saying goes, if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

The only way out of "this Russia thing" without repeating the multiyear catharsis of Watergate is to have an independent investigation, whether it be a special prosecutor, a special commission or a dedicated committee in Congress.

With Senate leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sitting on the sidelines (his wife is in Trump's Cabinet), Republican leadership needs new voices among critically thinking Republicans who chair important committees.

This means you, Sen. Murkowski. We implore you to step up and be the stateswoman we know you to be capable of being. Please be a strong voice for an independent investigation. Country over party. Be courageous for the whole nation; our hope and trust is in you.

These Alaskans signed this letter:

Eleanor Andrews is a former state commissioner of Administration; Jane Angvik is a former Anchorage Assembly member and worked at the Alaska Public Forum created by Gov. Jay Hammond; Sarah Barton heads a consulting firm with long experience in Alaska; Jana Hayenga is a small business owner in Anchorage; Abbe Hensley is a lifelong advocate for children and families through her professional and volunteer work; Jewel Jones is a former director of the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services; Janie Leask is a former president of the Alaska Federation of Natives; Jo Michalski is a retired retailer and entrepreneur and currently heads a $50 million endowment campaign for the Alaska Community Foundation; Vicki Otte is the retired CEO of MTNT Ltd., a village Native corporation; Susan Ruddy is the founder of the Alaska Nature Conservancy and former vice chancellor at UAA; Sally Smith is former state representative from Fairbanks and former mayor of Juneau; Kate Troll is a regular ADN contributor and former elected official in Juneau and Ketchikan; Hope Wing was the first female naturopath in Alaska; and Bruce Botelho is a former Alaska attorney general and former mayor of Juneau. All have served in various other organizations, both public and private.

The views expressed here are the writers' and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com. 

Kate Troll

Kate Troll, a longtime Alaskan, has over 22 years experience in coastal management, fisheries and energy policy and is a former executive director for United Fishermen of Alaska and the Alaska Conservation Voters. She's been elected to local office twice, written two books and resides in Douglas.