Alaska’s Biggest Billionaire,[^1] Bob Gillam, thinks it’s unfair that the Alaska Public Offices Commission is out to get him. The proof that APOC is out to get him is that he keeps getting busted for election law violations and then losing in proceedings before the APOC. They keep finding him guilty. In Billionaire Bob’s mind, that can’t be right. If you think WC is exaggerating, go to the APOC Complaints Search Page and type “Gillam” into the document text field. Impressive, yes?
So when Joel Natwick filed his latest complaint against Gillam in August 2012, Gillam sued APOC and its Executive Director, claiming they were patently unfair to him. Armed with intemperate comments from the Executive Director of APOC, Billionaire Bob marched off to superior court. Which threw out all of his claims. Because you don’t get to complain about an unfair administrative tribunal if you don’t first try to resolve the issue at the administrative tribunal. Billionaire Bob had lost again.
So he appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court and, on January 9, 2015, the Alaska Supreme Court threw out his claims, too. In RGB Bush Planes, LLC v. Kirk, the Alaska Supreme Court told Billionaire Bob that in Alaska courts, at least, billionaires have to play by the rules. That’s just so unfair.
Of course, Gillam’s master strategy is working pretty well so far. He hasn’t yet had to appear before the Commission to defend himself against Natwick’s allegations, and we’re 2.5 years along. His reluctance may be because Billionaire Bob is a recidivist, a serial election law scofflaw. Maybe he doesn’t have a real defense to the substantive claim. All he can do is point at APOC and claim it is unfair.
So what were the remarks that were the basis for Billionaire Bob’s distress? Here’s the heart of it, per the Alaska Supreme Court:
In September 2012 there was apparently a meeting between Curtis Thayer, a Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Administration, and appellee Paul Dauphinais, the Executive Director of the Commission. Thayer later testified in a deposition that, at the meeting, Dauphinais asked for a budget increase so the Commission could investigate and thus “get” and “ruin” Gillam.
Paul Dauphinais is not a member of the Commission itself. He’s not one of the folks who decides if Joel Natwick’s allegations are true.[^2] Dauphinais is the prosecutor, the guy who supervises the attempts to prove the allegations are true. Like any prosecutor, he has a screening function. Like any prosecutor who’s seeing the same “defendant” again and again, he probably wants to polish the perp off. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. At worst, Dauphinais’s remarks appear to be intemperate.
Billionaire Bob’s record before the APOC speaks for itself. He’s already paid the largest single fine ever levied by APOC. It’s time for him to face Natwick’s charges against him. Enough stalling. Enough excuses.
Is Billionaire Bob ready to face justice? Here’s WC’s handy guide to answering the question: will the next hearing be on the bogus bias issue, or on the merits? And if it’s on bias, when Gillam loses, will he appeal again all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court?
WC looks forward to the outcome of the hearing.
[^1]: Chron reports that Robert Gillam’s net worth is a mere $700 million. Articles elsewhere set his net worth at $400 million to $1.05 billion. WC has chosen “Billionaire Bob” for its alliteration, not its accuracy.
[^2]: AS 15.13.020(i). Neither the executive director nor any other Commission employee may vote on matters decided by the Commission.