Investigation of Permanent Fund firing costs more money

A committee of the Alaska Legislature voted unanimously on Aug. 10 to spend an additional $50,000 on its investigation into the firing of Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. director Angela Rodell, bringing the investigation’s total budget to $150,000.

Anchorage Sen. Natasha von Imhof, chair of the House-Senate Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, said the money is needed to get the investigation “to the finish line,” and she expects a full report in October.

Members of the committee hired a special investigator in January to determine whether political factors played a role in the December firing of Rodell by the corporation’s board of trustees.

The corporation manages Alaska’s $78 billion Permanent Fund, and a transfer from the Permanent Fund to the state treasury accounts for at least half of the general-purpose revenue used for services and Permanent Fund dividends, making management of the corporation a critical operation to the state.

Rodell’s firing came after the corporation’s most successful year on record, and Rodell said at the time that she believed the firing was motivated by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposal to spend more from the Permanent Fund than allowed by a 2018 law.

Dunleavy dropped that proposal after oil prices rose, and a subsequent public records request revealed years of conflicts between Rodell and the board of trustees. Some conflicts predated Dunleavy’s election as governor.

The firing alarmed state legislators, who generally held a positive view of Rodell.

The investigator, Howard Trickey, has spent much of the year conducting interviews with trustees and other witnesses familiar with the events that led to Rodell’s removal.

Trickey is employed by the law firm of Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt, and in an Aug. 9 memo, the firm said it had exhausted the $100,000 previously allocated by the budget and audit committee. The additional $50,000 is expected to be enough to finish the investigation.

 

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