State corporation working to takeover Alaska LNG project to be audited

Rep. Mike Hawker, Chair of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee, on Feb. 12, 2015. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Rep. Mike Hawker, chair of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee, on Feb. 12, 2015. Hawker and fellow Anchorage Republican Cathy Giessel asked the committee to audit the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., which Hawker helped form.  (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Update | 2:16p.m. Thursday

The Friday AGDC board meeting, which would have discussed the audit, has been canceled and the company has not been rescheduled.

Original story | Wednesday

The state corporation charged with taking over the massive Alaska LNG project is going to have its finances scrutinized. The legislators who called for the investigation say they want to know what the corporation has done with the $600 million given to it by the state over the last several years.

Outgoing House Rep. Mike Hawker and Sen. Cathy Giessel asked the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee to look into the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation’s finances. The two Anchorage Republicans say they’ve had a hard time getting immediate answers to questions they have about the how the corporation is doing business.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, addresses the Alaska Senate in favor of passing House Bill 11, an act that would make certain criminal records unavailable on the internet, Jan. 27, 2016. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, speaks in January. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

“It has been somewhat elusive,” Giessel said. “We see, of course, the cumulative number. But not where the expenditures have happened,”

Hawker and Giessel also asked that the auditor look into whether the corporation’s board of directors had approved significant spending decisions and contracts for senior executive employees and consultants. Keith Meyer, the corporation’s president, is the highest paid state employee. He draws an annual salary of $550,000 with an optional bonus of up to $200,000.

Giessel says, it isn’t clear how the corporation decided on compensation.

“And so again, just due diligence on how these expenditures are being made and who is stepping up with the authority to make them,” she said.

Rep. Hawker told the Legislative Budget & Audit committee that he has a vested interest in how the corporation is run. He wrote the legislation that created it in 2009, with former House Speaker Mike Chenault.

It isn’t clear when the audit will be finished. But Giessel says it likely won’t happen before the end of the next legislative session, in April.

“Typically this type of an audit can take, you know, 6 – 8 months,” she said.

AGDC president Keith Meyer (photo courtesy AGDC).
AGDC president Keith Meyer (photo courtesy AGDC).

She says the audit is partially motivated by the huge amount of risk in the state’s decision to take over the largest private construction project in North America.

The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation’s board will meet Friday to discuss the audit.

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