Edie Grunwald is a retired Air Force colonel who’s running to be the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. She also was fired at the direction of former Gov. Sean Parnell. The dismissal was part of the fallout from the Alaska National Guard scandal that contributed to Parnell’s defeat four years ago.
On Oct. 20, 2014, Grunwald lost her job as human resources director for the Alaska National Guard. Two others were also fired. The dismissals came after a report by the Guard’s Virginia-based Office of Complex Investigations. The report detailed how Alaska National Guard leaders failed to address reports of sexual assault, among other problems.
Then-Gov. Parnell spoke with Alaska Public Media’s Lori Townsend about the firings the next day.
She asked him: “How did this decision come about, that led to this dismissal yesterday?”
Parnell replied: “The issues identified in the report that I asked for, that I asked the National Guard to bring in their Office of Complex Investigations. The report was pretty scathing, with respect to the troops and airmen not having the trust and confidence in their leadership. And clearly that played a role in this.”
Parnell cited the confidentiality of personnel records when he said at the time that he wouldn’t comment further on the firings.
Earlier this month, Grunwald noted that her name didn’t appear in the report. However, the report generally didn’t name individuals.
Grunwald said Parnell made a mistake.
“I think that he had to show that he took action in the Guard,” Grunwald said, adding: “It was a wrong action on his part, but it was because, I think, he got the wrong advice.”
Grunwald said Parnell apologized to her over what happened. For his part, Parnell said he expressed sorrow to Grunwald over the murder of her 16-year-old son, and that he may have expressed sorrow of her losing her job in the public eye. But he said he doesn’t recall apologizing to her over any action that he took.
Grunwald said she lost her job because those above her in the chain of command were looking to take a symbolic action as a result of the scandal.
“I happened to be low-hanging fruit,” Grunwald said, later adding: “Usually the people at the top or around the top or is viewed at the top, you know, it looks like you’re making change when you take them down. I say take them down, you remove them from their position.”
As human resources director, Grunwald was responsible for making sure that personnel actions made by commanders met federal regulations. She did hear reports of wrongdoing.
“There’s several occasions where people would reach out to me on things that were going on and I immediately reported it to that commander that may have been in charge,” Grunwald said.
Grunwald also said she’d follow up to make sure an investigation was done.
According to the Alaska National Guard, Grunwald had no oversight of sexual assault allegations.
Grunwald said she did what she was responsible for doing.
“I thought we did an excellent job,” Grunwald said. “We just didn’t have the support of higher authority and the commanders of the units.”
Parnell has endorsed Anchorage state Sen. Kevin Meyer in the lieutenant governor’s election.
The primary is Tuesday.