It’s an election year for Alaska’s Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, and there’s been no shortage of television attack ads from groups supporting his opponents.
The first-term senator chuckles and offers a polite apology to television watchers.
“I think that’s the lay of the land now, and I think these outside groups like the Koch brothers, who, you know — the same group that’s laying off 80 employees up in Fairbanks and not figuring out how to clean up the water they’re leaving there — are groups that are gonna just try to influence the politics of Alaska and, try to, you know, buy states,” Begich says.
The Koch brothers are David and Charles Koch of the multibillion dollar Koch Industries, based in Kansas. Begich’s layoff reference is to the imminent closure of Koch Industries’ Flint Hills oil refinery in North Pole. The Koch brothers have spent millions supporting right-wing political campaigns across the country.
“Which is somewhat disturbing in the sense of the political process. But from my perspective, I know Alaskans will focus on what I’ve done, and a larger picture, not just these outside groups that wanna, you know, twist the facts and twist the information for their own political gain,” Begich says.
“I think those will be great sources of unbiased, nonpartisan information,” he says.
Monday, Begich will deliver his sixth address to the Alaska legislature as a U.S. senator. Gavel Alaska’s live television, web and radio coverage begins at 11 a.m.
Begich has at least two other public stops planned in Juneau on Monday. He’ll attend a Native issues forum sponsored by the Tlingit and Haida Central Council at 12:15 p.m. at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, and cut the ribbon on the Boochever Courthouse in the federal building at 3 p.m.
- The state is granting nearly $300,000 to improve water quality in some of Alaska's most damaged watersheds, including Juneau's orange-tinted Duck Creek.
- More than a third of all the penalties imposed since 1976 were logged last year.
- "You know, we're not talking about some smoky, old wood stove here. We’re talking about high-tech equipment," said Daniel Parrent, a program manager at the U.S. Forest Service.
- "Did you think that ganging together seven different taxes would make it more likely or less likely that any would pass?” asked Eagle River Republican Rep. Dan Saddler.