Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wow, that's all he's got ...

Yesterday I published a piece on the main blog in response to what essentially was an attack earlier in the week on Alaska fiscal conservatives by, adapting a phrase from the Wall St. Journal, the Grand Old Pork wing of the Alaska Republican Party.  See "Alaska’s “Tom DeLay Republicans” and why Sean Parnell will lose the 2014 Governor’s race …."

Later in the day, the emerging spokesman for the Pork wing, Frank McQueary, appears to have taken to Facebook in an attempt to respond.  Most of it is personally directed to me, which I will deal with in a moment.  But before going there, its useful to focus on what is really going on in this exchange.

There is an old adage among lawyers that came to mind as I read the response.
"When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.”
The political equivalent of the last tenet is "when neither is on your side, pound on the other side in an attempt to create a diversion."  That is what McQueary's response appears to be an attempt to do.

The real facts are this:  In his little over four short years as Governor, Sean Parnell has increased the Alaska budget by more than 50% and put the fiscal future of Alaska at risk.

Don't take my word for it.  Here is what the University of Alaska-Anchorage's decidedly non-partisan Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) has to say about the subject:
Right now, the state is on a path it can’t sustain. Growing spending and falling revenues are creating a widening fiscal gap. …Reasonable assumptions about potential new revenue sources suggest we do not have enough cash in reserves to avoid a severe fiscal crunch soon after 2023, and with that fiscal crisis will come an economic crash.
There is a solution to the problem:  spend less, save more.  Again to quote ISER,
What can the state do to avoid a major fiscal and economic crisis? The answer is to save more and restrict the rate of spending growth. All revenues above the sustainable spending level of $5.5 billion—including Permanent Fund income, except the share that funds the dividend—would be channeled into savings.
I believe that adopting that solution can result in, to paraphrase former President Ronald Reagan, a "Morning in Alaska."   Last week I put forward a three point plan -- what I call the "Alaska Business Plan" -- which I believe achieves that very result.

But not everyone supports moving in that direction, including it appears McQueary, an official of the Alaska Republican Party.  He appears to want to stay the current course -- the one that ISER says will lead to a "fiscal crisis" and "economic crash."

Why?  Alaska political columnist Amanda Coyne sees it this way:
The people who benefit from all the state government largess — people like the developer Mark Pfeffer, the master of sole source government contracts, and a prolific campaign contributor — aren’t likely happy about what Keithley is preaching. Those people are arguing that the state’s spending keeps Alaskans working. Which, as Keithley points out, sounds suspiciously like Obama’s stimulus plan.
 Indeed, Parnell's current policies are exactly like Obama's stimulus plan, and are leading Alaska to the same disastrous end result (see "Alaska Fiscal Policy| Robbing Peter to pay Paul and why Alaska government is wrong to do it ….")  Just like the Obama plan, Alaska's current fiscal policy is corporate welfare at the government's -- and thus, the citizen's -- expense.  The state will crash and burn, but some will be comfortably positioned -- probably in Hawaii -- as it does.

Those are the facts.  They are on my side and admittedly, I pound them day in and day out on this and the main blog, as well as in speeches, columns in other publications and anywhere else I happen to be.

And interestingly, McQueary doesn't appear to argue with them. Indeed, not once in his 250-word response does he actually seek to defend the Governor's record, or argue with the conclusion that it is leading the state to a "fiscal crisis" and "economic crash."

Instead, his entire response focuses on me, my contribution record and my residence ("it is not the soundbite that I question: It is the motive of the soundbiter.")  So, that appears to be all he's got.  Not a problem; let's do my contributions first.

McQueary asserts "if Bradford [only my mother calls me that] was really a conservative of any stripe, why did he donate more than $4000 to the Alaska Democratic Party in the 2012 while the rest of us were busy trying to break up the "bipartisan coalition" in the Senate. See the website Open Secrets or go to the FEC website to see where his money went."

McQueary's reference to "Open Secrets or .. the FEC" is odd and appears largely designed to mislead the reader.  Both only report contributions to federal races.  Contributions to Alaska state races, where I have concentrated my giving for the last several years, are only available through the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) website.

In my original piece yesterday, I published a print out of all of the state contributions I have made that are readily available from the APOC website. (There appear to be several missing from the list because of quirks related to the APOC website.  For example, I contributed to Mike Hawker in his 2010 race, but it doesn't appear on any of the APOC summaries produced by searching on my name.  Those contributions that do, however, are sufficient to provide the general direction of my efforts.)  McQueary had that available at the time he wrote his response, but ignored it.  Evidently, that is because it says far more than McQueary wants people to know.

The fact is that I was heavily involved in supporting Republican candidates in both 2010 and 2012, and already am again in the run up to 2014.  What, in fact, may bug Frank is that sometimes that support is for fiscally conservative candidates who are challenging those he supports, such as Senate Bipartisan Majority member Lesil McGuire (see "The most important slide in this election … and why I have contributed to Mike Dunleavy and Jeff Landfield ...").  I am proud of my record and would do it again.

McQueary also is incorrect about both the timing and the purpose of my contributions to Democrats.  As the APOC reports make clear, my significant contribution to the Alaska Democrat Party was made in 2010, not 2012, and was made directly to the Governor's Fund, not to support the party in general.  As I explained at the time -- Alaska’s economic future: Berkowitz gets it, Parnell doesn’t -- after earlier supporting Ralph Samuels in the primary, I supported Berkowitz in the general because I believed he offered both better oil and fiscal policies.  Turns out -- especially looking back on a 50% increase in state spending under Parnell -- I was right.

McQueary is similarly off-base in attacking my residency.  He asserts, "[m]y second question was why an educated, erudite and articulate former attorney who is quite capable of reading the state constitution persist in suggesting that 'he might have to run for Governor if someone sufficiently conservative did not file to run against Sean Parnell'. According to the Division of Elections and the voter registration document that Mr. Keithley signed on 2 February of 2010 he was up until that time registered to vote in Dallas, TX."

As McQueary knows, those that move to Alaska are not required to register to vote upon their arrival, or somehow, deregister in their former home (as long as they don't continue to vote there) once they have moved.  Like his earlier suggestion that readers look at Open Secrets or the FEC to examine my contribution history, his suggestion is simply a red herring, intended to misdirect the reader.

Here is my response to the same set of questions when raised in the right way earlier this year by Amanda Coyne:
  • September 23
  • Amanda Coyne
    Amanda Coyne

    U didn't register in ak into 2010. And prior registration was on Dallas. Care to comment?
  • Brad Keithley
    Brad Keithley

    I didn't register in Alaska when I first moved here. I don't recall voting in Texas after the 2000 redistricting. I have never applied for a PFD in Alaska because I don't take one.

I read, and re-read the Alaska Constitution often (in fact, I carry around a copy in my briefcase).  Despite McQueary's concerns, I am quite confident I know what I am doing.

McQueary's final question -- Who is Mr. Keithley supporting for the office of Governor? -- is one I should dodge, but won't.  There are two individuals in this state who, if they called this morning and asked me to go to work for their campaigns, I would say "yes" in a heartbeat:  Mike Dunleavy and Pete Kelly.  Neither currently is a candidate.  One or the other should be.  The economic future of the state is at stake; its time to get real, something McQueary and the Pork wing of the ARP are not.

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