Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Do You Know Any Of These People? They Gave $500 Or More To Mike Chenault

And maybe they could talk to him about Medicaid expansion.  

I put together this chart using information from the APOC Campaign Disclosure pages.  The site doesn't seem to allow me to link to the main search results I got.   The link takes you here and then you have to fill in the time period (I did 12/31/2013 to 05/18/2015) and then Chenault.  That will give six pages of contributions.  I've listed the ones that are $500 or more.  I've put them basically in alphabetical order by donor name, though I tried to group donations from the same organization.  There are some links in the chart - it's hard to tell, but they're underlined.  And while I'm trying to present this neutrally, the legislative majority's fuck you attitude to anyone who doesn't agree with them makes it pretty hard.  But at least I hope I've got the details reasonably accurate.

(There was a lot of data and I did keep checking, but you might double check before you use these numbers elsewhere.  I also left out contributions of less than $500 that might have added to the amounts given by organizations mentioned above.)

(If you look closely, there's lots of oil related money.  Some of the larger contributors include  GCI (Citizens for Competition and the GCI Pres and VP) has $2000 in there, construction interests, dentists, and the Penney and Wells families.)

Why am I doing this?

Mike Chenault, the Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives, is part of the Alaska legislative leadership that passed a budget that is underfunded by about $3 billion.  (These are Republicans mind you.)  Although for most things the Republican majority in Juneau can do whatever they want without  cooperation from the Democrats, they can't take money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) without help from Democrats. And they need $3 billion from the CBR to balance the budget.    Democrats are willing to cooperate, but they'd like to see some changes made first.

They'd like to see Medicaid expanded using federal dollars which would add  40,000 or so more Alaskans will have health care coverage and save the state money.  The Republicans refuse.
They'd like to see Erin's Law passed, so kids recognize sex abuse and know how to avoid it and report it.  The Republicans refuse. 
They'd like to see some of the large capital expenditures - like the Knik Arm bridge and the extension of Bragaw - cut out of the budget.  The Republicans refuse.
They'd like to see education cuts restored.  The Republicans refuse.

The governor says he can't sign a budget that isn't fully funded and called the legislature into a special session in Juneau. 

But, there is not even the slightest show of respect or cooperation on Chenault's part.  He's spitting on the governor's order for a special session in Juneau,  meeting there just long enough to adjourn.  He's calling for the special session to be held in Anchorage, which may not even be legal.  And House Majority Leader Rep. Charisse Millett said the governor may have to sue them to get them back to Juneau.  These are supposed to be civilized people working in a democracy.  (Note to Rep. Reinbold, there is hope for your resurrection.  Millett was persona non grata like you just a couple of years ago and now she's Majority Leader.)

Now that I've given that background, let's get back to Medicaid Expansion.which has the support of 65% of Alaskans.  Here's a small portion of the organizations in support as listed on the state Health and Social Services website:

Alaska AFL-CIO
Alaska Brain Injury Network 
Alaska Chamber of Commerce
Alaska Federation of Natives
Alaska Heart Association/Alaska Stroke Association
Alaska Injury Prevention Center
Alaska Municipal League
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Alaska Nurses Association
Alaska Pharmacy Association
Alaska Physical Therapy Association
Alaska Physicians & Surgeons
Alaska Primary Care Association
Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association (Gave $250 to Chenault)
Alaska State Medical Association
Anchorage Chamber of Commerce
Anchorage Municipal Assembly
Bartlett Regional Hospital
Catholic Social Services
Doyon Limited
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly
NANA Regional Corporation (INUU a PAC of one of NANA's companies gave $500 to Chenault)
National Association of Social Workers Alaska Chapter
United Way of Anchorage

This list includes Native organizations, many professional organizations involved in health care, municipal organizations, and even the Anchorage and Alaska chambers of commerce.  I've noted a couple of organizations here that have also given money to Chenault.

Presumably, the people on the list of contributors up top should have some clout with Chenault.   The money he raised was far, far more than what he needed to win. His opponent, Rocky Knudsen, raised $10,190 including, $3500 of which he apparently borrowed and paid back at the end. 

So Chenault's fund raising wasn't about winning the election, he raised a lot more money than he needed.  It was about showing loyalty to and buying access to the House Speaker. 

In fact, Chenault's reports show his campaign used less than half the money he raised. 

Chenault raised about $46,000 for his 2014 campaign.  At the end, he had nearly $25,000 left over.  Well, technically, it's all been spent, but about $9500 was donated at the end to organizations like the Girls and Boys Clubs and to PTAs of schools in Chenault's district.  $10,000 (the limit allowed) went into his POET account.  From the APOC FAQ page:
"Public Office Expense Term account.  The money in the account may be used only to pay expenses associated with the candidate’s serving as a legislator or municipal official and all expenditures must be disclosed in a year end P.O.E.T account report. "
And he was able to put another $5000 into his future campaigns account.

It's clear to me that his campaign contributors were buying access more than they were helping him win his election, because he didn't need the money.   These are people who should be able to talk to him.  Most, I'm sure, were more interested in protecting their business interests than things like Medicaid expansion.  Some, of course, were just old friends with deep pockets.  Others may share Chenault's stand on this Medicaid expansion.  Though I'm guessing Chenault's refusal to budge on Medicaid is less ideology and more about enticements and threats coming from national organizations like Americans for Prosperity on this issue.

What Can You Do?

In any case, if you know any of the folks on the list, you might check with them where they stand on Medicaid expansion.  Surely $500 buys them the right to have their phone calls answered by Chenault and they could check on why he's favoring outside interests who want to stick it to Obama rather than get health coverage for 40,000 Alaskans and save the state money.   Or even if you don't them, you can contact them and let them know you're disappointed in Chenault's boorish behavior and their support of it. 

I know, it's a longshot, but refusing to expand Medicaid is crazy.  Even the Chamber of Commerce sees the value of it.  I figure reason isn't going to make a difference, but if ten or twenty folks ($5000 - $10,000)  on the list were to talk to Chenault, maybe that could make a difference.  

But maybe not.  As I was researching this post I came across this interesting tidbit.  Alaska's highest paid lobbyist had, as one of her assignments, getting Medicaid expansion passed.

"1. Wendy Chamberlain — $1,111,000 in annual contracts
Biggest Contract — $100,000. Hired by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to work on all issues relating to Alaska Native healthcare, including Medicaid expansion. . ."  

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