Archive for the ‘Lisa Murkowski’ Category
Despite recent embarrassing lapses, there are signs that Senator Lisa Murkowski is actually doing her job: serving as a voice of moderate Republican thinking. The New York Times reports that at a recent closed-door lunch of Republican Senators, Murkowski woodshedded her colleagues on their opposition to renewal of the Violence Against Women Act:
At a closed-door Senate Republican lunch on Tuesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska sternly warned her colleagues that the party was at risk of being successfully painted as antiwoman — with potentially grievous political consequences in the fall, several Republican senators said Wednesday.
Another scary Hallowe’en story:
Joe Miller, unindicted criminal, defeated senatorial candidate and chronic resumé exaggerator reports he is “presently chairman of the Western Representation PAC, Restoring Liberty Alaska PAC and Restoring Liberty Action Committee.” So WC will call him PAC Man for short.
For those who are new to these events, Joe Miller has a footnote in Alaska history as the first major party Alaska political candidate to lose to a statewide election to a write-in candidate. His candidacy careened from one disaster to another, as one of his avowed principles after another crashed on the rocks of his opportunism.
He’s still calling himself a judge, even if he was never more than a magistrate. For a partial listing of his bizarre history, visit WC’s 95 Theses.
This time he is railing against “Alaska Native Corporations,” and his acid resentment that they supported Lisa Murkowski drips from every sentence. But he seizes on old events and recent events to characterize Alaska Native Corporations generally as “crony capitalism.” His argument is a mash-up of several arguments.
The first is that it was unfair for the Native Regional Corporations to gang up on him in a super-PAC. The argument would be embarrassing coming from a guy who boasts about chairing PACs, but even someone new to the strange world of PAC Man recognizes he has no more sense of self-reflection than a rabid stoat. If he was surprised that the Native community reacted strongly when he attacked their rights, he’s even more naive than WC thought.
PAC Man has conveniently forgotten that in addition to the big regional corporations he references there are about 198 village corporations, and all of them are eligible for §8(a) contracts. The contracts have netted jobs and impressive shareholder dividends to the regions and villages involved. The distribution of wealth hasn’t been uniform, but the thing about capitalism is that not everybody wins. In any event, this is old news: the Washington Post investigation and Senator McGaskill’s investigation were in 2009. PAC Man also fails to note that the three largest Regional Corporations have called for reform. Perhaps Miller only became aware of it now?
The second argument PAC Man makes involves two instances of alleged misconduct by specific Native corporations: Sealaska Corporation’s bid to swap for some National Forest land in southeast Alaska and alleged corruption by two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officers that allowed two employees of a Native corporation subsidiary to embezzle serious money from the Department of Defense.
Sealaska wants a land swap for Tongass National Forest land. WC thinks the idea is dead on arrival; the days when this kind of deal could be slipped through by Uncle Ted are long behind us. It’s not a crime, or even crony capitalism, to try. It’s politics. You can bet that if PAC Man had won the election, and the Koch-owned North Pole Refinery has approached him for some kind of special deal, Senator PAC Man would have accommodated his biggest benefactors. Yes, WC thinks the whole quid pro quo business with campaign contributions is dirty and corrupting, but it’s nothing new or notable.
The embezzlement scheme involved two allegedly corrupt Corps of Engineer mid-level managers and a subsidiary of Eyak Corporation, the Cordova village corporation. There’s no evidence anyone at Eyak itself knew or benefited, so far as WC knows. And the reported $20 million scheme, big as it was, doesn’t even make the Top 10 List of biggest embezzlements in U.S. history. The federal officials who were supposed to keep watch were corrupt; PAC Man doesn’t explain how Section 8(a) caused the problem, or why the whole program should be thrown out because crooks stole money. Reformed, yes. But thrown out? PAC Man is indulging his penchant for hyperbole again.
And from these two instances and his acid resentment of Lisa Murkowski and the traitor Alaska Republicans, PAC Man ran this opinion piece under the headline “Alaska: Poster State for Crony Capitalism.” Excuse me? Using “capitalism” and “Alaska” in the same headline? And PAC Man is fumbling with a mighty big brush and precious little tar. It’s almost as if John Lindauer were railing against investigative reporting. Alaska seems to be able to avoid electing these idiots and charlatans, but they don’t shut up, do they?
The Alaska Supreme Court today issued a per curiam decision rejecting each of Joe Miller’s challenges to Superior Court Judge Bill Carey’s earlier decision. Bottom line: Miller loses, again, and badly, even worse than in the Superior Court.
For example, here’s what the Alaska Supreme Court had to say about Miller’s argument that minor misspellings should invalidate the vote:
Miller urges that only his interpretation of the statute will “preserv[e] the integrity of the electoral process as a whole.” But it is Miller’s interpretation of the statute that would erode the integrity of the election system, because it would result in disenfranchisement of some voters and ultimately rejection of election results that constitute the will of the people. We have consistently construed election statutes in favor of voter enfranchisement.
When the Supreme Court turns your own argument against you, it’s a really bad sign.
Notably, the state supreme court takes Miller to task for choosing to initiate a lawsuit in federal court, rather than either obtaining a recount or filing an election contest. The case is in the Alaska state courts only because U.S. District Judge Beistline forced it there. By choosing the litigation path he did, Miller, in effect, limited the issues he could raise.
Whatever sympathy WC might feel for Miller’s pleading himself into a corner has to be tempered by Miller’s claim to have “mastered the law.” You see, Mr. Miller, we are stuck with the choices we make, the words we use and the tactics we choose.
Slight change of subject: All bloggers and most Alaskans are quick to take state officials to task when they get something wrong. WC thinks it is equally important to offer praise and congratulations when they get it right.
Director of Elections Gail Fenumiai had to make thousands of difficult, high pressure decisions under tight time constraints, the national media spotlight and the badgering of hordes of lawyers, including her own. WC notes she appears to have made each and every one of those decisions correctly. As much as telling Miller his claims are wrong, the Alaska Supreme Court has affirmed all – every one – of Director Fenumiai’s decisions. Congratulations to her on a job well done. WC is deeply grateful to her.
Which leaves WC with Joe Miller and the ruins of his campaign. Under Judge Beistline’s order, Miller has 48 hours to resume his case in federal court. He doesn’t have a prayer. While WC has the lowest possible expectations for Miller and his advisors, surely now even Joe Miller can see that it is over. He has lost. It’s time to do the right thing, to concede, and allow the election to be certified.
Update for Results through November 12:
Murkowski’s unchallenged ballots are now up to 90% of total ballots cast. That would take the write-in candidate to 83,681 votes, against Miller’s 82,180, with some 72% of the precincts counted.
Absentee ballots aren’t all tallied yet, but unless they are statistically aberrational, they won’t affect the outcome. Bottom line: Murkowski wins, even without a single contested ballot.
You can smell the sleazy hand of Floyd Brown in the latest claims and lawsuits. They aren’t going to make any difference either, although they will have the potential to drag the process out.
Update for results through November 11:
Murkowski continues to hold an unchallenged 89.78% of the write-in votes, as statistics would predict, with a little less half of the total write-in votes counted. Today’s percentage is actually slightly higher, which translates into a handful of additional votes.
WC will say it again: despite ridiculously lousy excuses for challenges to write-in ballots and sudden, unsupported claims of voter fraud, Miller has lost.
And, gentle readers, when a candidate starts touting talk radio hosts as authority for anything, the candidate knows he has lost. Call it Wickersham’s Law.
The unofficial election results as of November 10 have “Write-In” getting 92,979 votes to Joe Miller’s 82,180. Absentee ballots are still coming in.
As of 6:30 PM on Wednesday, the Division of Elections had counted about 20% of those write-in ballots. Assuming the ballots counted so far are statistically random selection, Miller has lost the election. Here’s why:
About 89% of the ballots are in favor of Lisa Murkowski and are not challenged by Joe Miller’s election watchers.
89% x 92,979 = 82,751 uncontested votes
Even if Joe Miller were to win every single disputed ballot – including the ones he is challenging because they say “Murkowski, Lisa” instead of “Lisa Murkowski” – he still loses by more than 500 votes, a landslide in Alaska’s infamously close election contests.
And Miller’s not going to win on many of his contested write-in ballots. Voter intent is the key, not a twisted, absolutist view of the law. The view is particularly reprehensible in a state where Alaska Native voters have limited English skills, triggering, on the one hand, federal laws designed to protect those votes, and, on the other, a certain racist tinge to Miller’s tactics. Miller, after all, knows those Alaska Native votes are heavily weighted against him.
Miller’s options are either to object to more ballots for even flimsier reasons (“That “i” isn’t crossed.”), lie to himself about the unlikely chance that the first 20% isn’t statistically random, or go home and figure out how to pay his $100,000 in credit card bills. We already know Joe Miller will lie to his colleagues; it’s even easier for him to lie to himself.
WC will update this post for daily results as they come in.
Alaska’s own AKMuckraker, Jeanne Devon, handled Q & A at the Washington Post this morning, with skill and insight. Definitely worth a read.