JUNEAU — Officials at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. and members of the corporation’s governing board may be required to testify under oath as the Alaska Legislature investigates the firing of the corporation’s former executive director, Angela Rodell.
On Tuesday night, a House-Senate committee voted unanimously to issue subpoenas to compel testimony from corporation officials and board members if they fail to voluntarily talk with an independent investigator.
The vote came after Permanent Fund officials threatened to sue the Legislature in order to block the investigation.
The Legislature has used subpoena powers only a handful of times since the 1980s, and Tuesday’s vote was an extraordinary action.
“This is a big step. This isn’t something we do. This is a pretty serious issue in the view of the Legislature,” said Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, one of the legislators who signed the subpoenas.
It was not immediately clear whether officials will submit to the request for voluntary interviews.
Craig Richards, chairman of the Permanent Fund board of trustees, declined comment, as did a spokeswoman for the corporation. The spokeswoman, Paulyn Swanson, was one of 11 people who could receive a subpoena. She said the Permanent Fund’s board is working with the Department of Law on a response.
“If you’ve got nothing to hide, shouldn’t be a problem,” said Sen. Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, chair of the committee that issued the subpoenas.
The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, which includes Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both the House and Senate, is investigating the December firing of Rodell.
After she was fired, Rodell claimed she was let go in an act of “political retribution” orchestrated by the Dunleavy administration. The governor has denied involvement, and Richards testified that Rodell’s firing was the result of years of “trust problems” between Rodell and the Permanent Fund board.
Performance reviews released in a public records request indicate that some of those problems predate Dunleavy’s term in office.
Rodell, appointed in 2015, oversaw the Permanent Fund as it grew from $51 billion to more than $83 billion. Permanent Fund earnings accounted for two-thirds of the state’s general-purpose revenue in the budget passed last year, paying for services and dividends.