Former Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. executive director calls firing ‘political retribution’

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:14 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s been over a month since the board of trustees for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. abruptly removed Executive Director Angela Rodell, and questions around her ousting remain.

On Monday, Rodell wrote a letter to Legislative Budget and Audit Committee Chair Sen. Natasha von Imhof and called her firing “political retribution.”

“I believe my removal to be political retribution for successfully carrying the Board’s mandate to protect the Fund and advocate against any additional draws over the POMV spending rule in front of the 30th, 31st and 32nd Alaska State Legislatures which is contrary to Governor Dunleavy’s agenda,” wrote Rodell. “It is this direct conflict of agendas that contradicts the statement made by Chair Richards to the Senate and House Rules on December 15, 2021 that “politics had no part in the (Board’s) decision”

In the letter, Rodell outlines what she did at the corporation since she had been hired in October 2015, and said she provided the additional information to help the committee get a better understanding of what happened.

During a meeting on Dec. 9, the board voted 5-1 to remove Rodell from her position as executive director, prompting immediate questions from members of the Legislature. The next day, Alaska House and Senate Rules Committee chairs Sen. Gary Stevens and Rep. Bryce Edgmon wrote a letter asking for an explanation.

“Ms. Rodell’s track record is nothing short of exemplary, she always has been a steadfast professional, and did everything within her power to shield the Fund from outside political interference,” their letter stated. “We strongly believe that the public and legislature deserve an explanation for the action the board took yesterday.”

The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee’s next hearing is in Juneau on Jan. 17. In late December, von Imhof sent a letter to the corporation’s board chair, Craig Richards, requesting one or more of the corporation’s trustees attend.

“Right now it’s a fact-finding mission,” von Imhof said Wednesday. “We are very open just to kind of find out what happened. ... Our goal is just to make sure the fund stays politically independent and that it (does) not succumb under the pressures of either the Legislature or the governor’s political agenda. And we don’t know if that happened or not. ... We just want to find out what led to the abrupt and swift termination of the previous executive director.”

She added that the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee has asked for a host of documents from the corporation and have questions surrounding the timing, process and procedure of Rodell’s removal. The letter asks what the board’s established policy and procedure is for disciplining and terminating the executive director, and whether the board had previously identified deficiencies in Rodell’s performance prior to her termination.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy denies any involvement in Rodell’s firing and his deputy communications director provided a statement from the governor regarding the firing on Wednesday.

“One of the goals when the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation was established, was to protect the fund from political influence, which is why a six-member Board of Trustees was created — they serve as fiduciaries to the fund,” The statement reads. “I was not involved in any decision-making related to the termination of APFC’s executive director. Alaska Statute 37.13.100 states that it is the responsibility of the board of trustees, not the Office of the Governor, to make employment decisions about the executive director. I learned of the termination just like everyone else did, following the trustees’ executive session. Anyone who suggests I had any influence over this decision is simply wrong. I had no influence in the decision of this board.”

Prior to the removal of Rodell, the fund had a strong year in 2021 and grew to $81.9 billion, and the corporation’s website said the fund had grown by 50% since she became executive director.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to Rodell for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

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