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What’s Wrong With Alaska’s Congressional Delegation?

Most Alaskans know that their congressional delegation is pretty liberal, with the some-times exception of the ethically-challenged Don Young. Anyone watching this past week’s Senate votes by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich would have a hard time disagreeing with that conclusion.

Here’s a recap:

Photo ID for Elections. Sen. David Vitter proposed an amendment requiring photo ID for voters. Only two Republicans voted against it. Yep, you guessed it: Lisa Murkowski was one of them, joining her Democrat colleague Mark Begich in sending the measure to defeat.

Abortion Mandate for Religious Groups. Pro-abortion Democrat Jeanne Shaheen offered an amendment reaffirming the requirement that religious groups, notwithstanding their sincerely-held moral objections, must provide abortion drugs and birth control to their insureds. The measure passed with both Murkowski and Begich’s supporting votes.

Banning Former Illegal Aliens from Healthcare Benefits. Sen. Jeff Sessions offered an amendment that would have banned former illegal aliens from receiving government medical benefits. His effort failed. Both Murkowski and Begich voted against the proposal.

United Nations Funding/China’s Abortion Policy. See this article on Murkowski and Begich’s votes opposing Senator Cruz’s point of order against funding the United Nations as long as any of its member nations have a policy of involuntary abortions.

Finally, both Murkowski and Begich supported President Obama’s controversial anti-gun judicial nominee, Caitlin Halligan. That support went down in defeat this week with Obama’s withdrawal of the nominee after a lengthy GOP filibuster.

The Return of the Murkowski-Young Sealaska Earmark

The spirit of Ted Stevens is alive and well, and the Alaskan delegation’s renewed efforts to smuggle Juneau-based Sealaska Corporation’s earmark through the unaccountable lame duck Congress is powerful testimony to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) dogged loyalty, not to their constituents or the nation, but to the powerful corporate interests responsible for their elections.

Sealaska Corporation, a native-owned corporation that has thrived on government handouts since its formation in 1971, is back at the government trough, seeking to renegotiate long-settled native land claims at tremendous loss to the tax-paying public. Eager to satiate the desires of their most generous campaign supporters, Murkowski and Young have championed Sealaska’s land-grab legislation as a righteous resolution of legitimate cultural grievances. But a candid review of the Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act and the political circumstances surrounding it reveals a taxpayer-funded quid pro quo in the making.

Sealaska’s bill is nothing if not an earmark, and while conservatives in Congress have a lot on their dinner plates, principle demands taking a stand against a scheme so emblematic of the abuse of public trust all too pervasive in today’s America. Despite the Republican ban on earmarks, a version of the Sealaska land bill (HR.1408) passed the House of Representatives in June, but only because it is a tremendously complicated, quite subtle earmark that was bound up with several conservative constituent-pleasers including an NRA-backed proposal. While the bill is unlikely pass as part of the original House conglomeration, Sealaska’s policy in particular is gaining traction, thanks, in part, to a pile of aging land-use bills Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would like to see passed as soon as possible. King Reid’s will usually prevails, and the Sealaska bill is perfect bait to charm Murkowski’s ostensibly Republican vote in his favor, not only for his Nevada-centric bills, but for whatever garbage winds up in the eventual cliff-averting grand bargain.

Although Young wants the Sealaska bill to pass as badly as Murkowkski, the bill is singularly important to the latter Alaskan lawmaker because the corporation coughed up $1.7 million for her 2010 reelection campaign. In a particular egregious instance of purchasing political clout, Sealaska Corporation generously funded—and , in large part, operated—Murkowski’s write-in campaign after she lost to Tea Party favorite and Fairbanks-based attorney Joe Miller. Despite the Alaskan GOP’s clear rejection of the Murkowski Monarchy, she remained in power because Miller, wishing to represent Alaskans rather than merely Sealaskans, opposed the corporate land grab. Executives of the corporation abhorred the thought of being weaned off the public teat, and so they collaborated with Murkowski and her lackeys, ultimately jointly executing the single most effective write-in campaign victory in American political history, bar none.

Despite the open and obvious will of the Alaskan GOP, Murkowski was welcomed back into the national Republican apparatus because a single senate vote was critically important in the pre-Obamacare days. Having retained power for at least another six years, Murkowski’s top priority was to attend to her financier’s desires. So Sealaska’s landgrab legislation, which had languished in various forms in Congress for the past decade, was reintroduced with renewed vigor in 2011. And Murkowski was joined in the effort by Don Young…

According to proponents of the Sealaska bill, the legislation is needed to finalize native land claims. In truth, Sealaska’s executives want the bill because it will significantly enrich the company’s top executives by transferring to their ownership more than 70,000 acres of public owned land including extensive infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and log transfer sites. But the true value of the land is neither real estate nor taxpayer-funded roadways, but old-growth trees that started growing before the Revolutionary War. Sealaska does not conceal the fact that it wants to clear-cut ancient stands in the Tongass National Forest – they have done so on prior land claims – and sell the timber in Asia. Where, presumably, it will be turned into chairs and tables and sold back into America.

So while lawmakers and the media fret endlessly over cliffs and chasms, behind the closed doors of Congress a bipartisan cadre is quietly plotting on how best to sneak through pet legislation for their corporate cronies. Murkowski is hardly the only lawmaker following the oft-repeated mantra of Rahm Emanuel – never let a crisis go to waste. Sadly, the Sealaska land-grab threatens to destroy the communities and livelihoods of voiceless Alaskans whose wishes are unimportant to representatives beholden only to the overlords who allow them to remain in power.
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S.E. Robinson, a Maine native and graduate of Bowdoin College, is an investigative reporter with a passion for fishing, firearms and freedom. His work has been featured in Human Events, National Review Online, and TheBlaze.

Alaskan Combat Military Veterans May No Longer Qualify For PFD, But Murkowski, Young & Begich Do

In a unanimous decision yesterday, the Alaska Supreme Court determined that former-Alaska Attorney General Wayne Anthony Ross’s son, an Annapolis graduate and active-duty Marine, no longer qualifies for an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. As a result, his minor children also lose their Permanent Fund Dividends.

This decision was reached even though there is no dispute that Lieutenant Colonel Brian Ross has been a life-long Alaskan resident. He was born and raised in Anchorage. After graduating from Service High School in Anchorage, he attended the United States Naval Academy.

Wayne Anthony Ross told Restoring Liberty that his son “graduated as the top Marine applicant of the Class of 1994. He served in Iraq three times. He always continued to maintain himself as an Alaskan resident, registering his cars, voting, keeping his Alaska driver’s license and hunting licenses here. He owns land and a lodge herein Alaska and has returned home almost every year. He intends to return home here after getting out of the Marine Corps.” Mr. Ross said that, in 2012, his son returned to Alaska three times.

Unfortunately for LTC Ross, who entered active duty in 1990, our ethically-challenged state legislature decided in 1998 that Alaskan residents who have been absent from the state for more than ten years should no longer qualify for an Alaska PFD. Exceptions were made for our royal congressional class (at the time Senator Murkowski, Senator Stevens, and Representative Young), their immediate families, and even their staff, but no exception was made for Alaskan military veterans deployed outside of the state.

Mr. Ross argued that this different approach for congressional members and their families was a violation of equal protection. Obviously, if the legislature is willing to permit Senators and our lone Representative to continue to collect the PFD even though their residences have been in the Beltway for far more than ten years, veterans deployed in the service of their country should have the same treatment.

The Alaska Supreme Court unanimously said “no.” This decision should come as no surprise given the fact that this same Supreme Court chose to ignore equal protection violations during the Miller-Murkowski senatorial race in 2010. There, our royal Senator received a hand count of her ballots while Mr. Miller’s vote result was established by a Diebold machine count even though it was an established fact that the Diebold machine count was inaccurate.

Our Supreme Court unanimously said that it did not matter that over 60% of all Alaskan votes (McAdams and Miller votes) were counted differently than Murkowski’s.

The Alaskan electorate needs to bring accountability to the Alaskan judiciary. And a tool to do that is available. It’s called the retention vote. Vote “No” this November.

Law of the Sea Treaty, Supported by Alaska’s Governor, Lt. Governor & Congressional Delegation, now DOA

The United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty now has 34 senators opposed to it and thus lacks the Senate votes needed for U.S. ratification, a key opponent of the treaty announced Monday.

But the treaty’s main Senate proponent denies the treaty is sunk, saying plenty of time still exists to win support before a planned late-year vote.

The Law of the Sea Treaty, which entered into force in 1994 and has been signed and ratified by 162 countries, establishes international laws governing the maritime rights of countries. The treaty has been signed but not ratified by the U.S., which would require two-thirds approval of the Senate.

Critics of the treaty argue that it would subject U.S. sovereignty to an international body, require American businesses to pay royalties for resource exploitation and subject the U.S. to unwieldy environmental regulations as defined.

The list of treaty opponents has been growing, and on Monday, Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican and a leader of efforts to block it, announced that four more Republicans have said that they would vote against ratification: Sens. Mike Johanns of Nebraka, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio and Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

Read more from this story HERE.

Photo credit:  Department of Defense