Campbell answers concerns, wins strong approval

New lieutenant governor no longer temporary, acting

Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Alaska Legislature on Monday confirmed Craig Campbell as the state's new lieutenant governor by a vote of 55-4.

Al Grillo / The Associated Press
Al Grillo / The Associated Press

Voting against confirmation were two Southeast legislators, Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, and Sen. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, along with Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage, and Sen. Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks.

The vote came after the Legislature heard concerns about possible anti-tax or anti-gay rights views, but voted overwhelmingly to confirm Campbell anyway.

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, said he'd questioned Campbell about a 1993 Anchorage Daily News article which said Campbell opposed allowing homosexuals to work in food preparation or health care jobs. Campbell at the time served on the Anchorage assembly.

"I would find a view like that very troubling," he said.

Gara assured the Legislature he had spoken with Campbell, and that he "does not believe that at all."

Gara was among those voting to confirm Campbell.

At a morning meeting of the Senate State Affairs Committee, Campbell was grilled by Sens. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, and Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks, about his views toward government.

French asked about a publicly reported comment from Campbell, wherein he called acceptance of federal money by the state a "bribe." French asked what that said about his view of government.

"For many people the word 'bribe' connotes illegality," French said.

"I don't always trust the media's reporting the whole story; sometimes they pick the part that reads best," Campbell said.

However, he didn't dispute the quote.

"I did say that," he acknowledged.

Campbell said he was trying to explain that he was opposed to growing government.

"Just because the federal government offers us money does not mean we should accept it," he said.

French said one-third of jobs in Alaska can be traced to federal spending, and that the state had been dependent on federal dollars since its inception.

The senator suggested Campbell use "more neutral" terms, and not risk harming Alaska's economy.

"I accept your guidance," Campbell said.

Paskvan asked Campbell about his views on privatizing government services such as police, fire and libraries.

Campbell said he was an advocate of privatization while a member of the Anchorage Assembly, but would opposed privatizing police services. Some fire department services might be better to privatize, he said, and that "to the extent that we have public libraries," they'll need government support.

Campbell said he advocated unsuccessfully for privatization of the Anchorage Telephone Utility while an Assembly member.

In response to other questions, Campbell said he supported school vouchers, and that he believed the state oil tax system did not need to be changed.

A former employee of Campbell's who worked on Alaska Territorial Guard issues appeared before the Legislature and criticized Campbell as well. Robert Goodman said Campbell had been deceitful and deceptive in his dealings with him.

Campbell said Goodman sought more money to do the job, quit when he didn't get it, and has been a critic ever since.

Campbell was named to take over as lieutenant governor by former Gov. Sarah Palin when she made her surprise resignation announcement last month, replacing former designee Joe Schmidt, commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

Schmidt had been confirmed by the Legislature. Upon Palin's resignation and Gov. Sean Parnell's move from up from the lieutenant governor position, Campbell was sworn in as the newly created position of "temporary, acting lieutenant governor," which was how he introduced himself to the committee.

Immediately after his confirmation by the full Legislature, Campbell was sworn in officially by Judge Charles T. Huguelet.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or by e-mail at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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