Legislators investigate firing of Permanent Fund director

JUNEAU (AP) — A state legislative committee is hiring a law firm to investigate the controversial firing of the head of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.

Angela Rodell was fired by the corporation board in December, after the $82 billion savings account had recorded its best year ever for investment returns.

Rodell, who had been the corporation’s CEO since late 2015, has said she believes her firing was “political retribution” for advocating against exceeding draw limits set on the earnings of the Permanent Fund. The governor the past couple of years has promoted his plan to withdraw additional money from the fund — beyond the annual limit set in state law — so as to pay Alaskans a larger Permanent Fund dividend.

The Legislature has declined to approve the governor’s request.

Board chair Craig Richards has said that Rodell was an at-will employee who could be fired at the board’s discretion, and cited negative evaluations of her performance. He has declined to provide details, calling it a confidential personnel matter.

The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, comprised of House and Senate members, voted unanimously last Thursday to hire a law firm and to authorize the issuance of subpoenas, if needed, as part of the investigation.

The committee intends to hire attorneys from the Anchorage firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, with a contract of up to $100,000, expected to be finalized this week.

The investigation is expected to examine the circumstances surrounding Rodell’s firing and whether there were any improper actions or undue political influence by board members or Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.

Dunleavy has said he had no knowledge of or influence over Rodell’s firing.

“It is this committee’s goal that the fund is protected from political intervention or manipulation to ensure the fund’s continued growth and sustainability,” the committee chair Anchorage Sen. Natasha von Imhof said in explaining the decision to hire the firm.

Von Imhof said she hopes the investigators’ report will be completed before the end of the legislative session this spring.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. manages the assets of the state’s nest-egg oil-wealth fund, which was valued at $82 billion at the end of 2021.


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