Governor names new Permanent Fund trustee to replace Ketchikan banker

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has appointed a philanthropist-businesswoman to the six-member board of trustees of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., which manages the $79 billion investment account that pays for a huge share of public services and the annual dividend to Alaskans.

Lawmakers and Dunleavy’s critics have been closely watching the corporation’s board in recent months, after members voted in December to fire its former chief executive, Angela Rodell. That move came amid disagreements over the fund’s management, and how much lawmakers can sustainably spend from the account each year.

Dunleavy’s new appointment of Gabrielle “Ellie” Rubenstein, announced June 14, fills the board seat left open by the retirement of Ketchikan banker Bill Moran, who was the only trustee to vote against Rodell’s firing. Moran had served on the board since 2006.

The governor’s office, in its announcement, described Rubenstein as chief executive of a Vail, Colorado-based, food-focused investment firm, Manna Tree Partners, and a graduate of Harvard University and two Indiana master’s degree programs in business and agriculture economics.

Rubenstein is the daughter of Alice Rogoff, the former owner of the Anchorage Daily News (then called Alaska Dispatch News) and billionaire David Rubenstein, co-chairman of the board of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest investment firms.

Carlyle and affiliated firms are paid to manage some $825 million, or 1%, of the Permanent Fund’s investments, according to a breakdown provided by Paulyn Swanson, a spokeswoman for the corporation.

Ellie Rubenstein has no investment or ownership interest in The Carlyle Group or related companies, a Dunleavy spokeswoman, Shannon Mason, said in an email June 15. And the Permanent Fund has no investments in Rubenstein’s company, Manna Tree, Swanson said.

Dunleavy met with Rubenstein several times in recent months before naming her to the board this week, according to copies of his public schedule obtained by the Anchorage Daily News.

The governor spent an hour with Rubenstein and her father, David, during a Houston energy conference in early March. Three days later, Dunleavy had a dinner meeting with Ellie Rubenstein in Juneau.

At the end of March, Dunleavy flew to Colorado for a health forum hosted by Manna Tree, whose participants also included David Rubenstein. On that trip, Dunleavy, who’s made food security a policy focus during his term as governor, also toured an indoor agriculture facility run by Gotham Greens, one of the companies that Manna Tree has invested in.

“She is an Alaskan resident who would devote herself to the work of the board,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

Public records show that Rubenstein votes in Alaska but has never applied for a Permanent Fund dividend, which can only be paid to Alaskans who spend 180 days or fewer outside the state, except for allowable absences. Mason, the governor’s spokeswoman, called Rubenstein a “legal resident” of Alaska and said that “her job requires an exceptional amount of traveling to other states and other parts of the world.”

Rubenstein declined to be interviewed June 15 but said in an email that she has chosen not to apply for dividends for “personal reasons.” She said the appointment came after Dunleavy “asked me to bring my experience running a global investment firm to the Alaska Permanent Fund.”

Rubenstein is a registered Republican who was one of the honorary co-chairs of former President Donald Trump’s campaign in Alaska in 2016.


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