Lawmakers issue subpoenas in move to make Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation board members talk about Rodell firing

Lawmakers and others seated in a Capitol committee room
Members of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee speak with their lawyer Christopher Slottee (center) on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, about the investigation into the firing of Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation executive director Angela Rodell. (Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO)

A legislative committee took the next step on Tuesday in the investigation of the firing of former Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation executive director Angela Rodell, opening the door to forcing corporation board members to testify.

The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee voted 10-0 to issue subpoenas to all six of the corporation’s board members, four employees and a Department of Revenue worker.

The committee met after the state Department of Law rejected an earlier attempt by investigators to interview the trustees and employees.

In a letter to the committee, state attorneys questioned the fairness and impartiality of the investigation and called for someone who’s independent of the committee to examine the issue.

They also said that the investigation threatens the board’s independence. And they said it’s a problem that Committee Chair Sen. Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, is friends with Rodell and had been given subpoena authority.

Christopher Slottee is a lawyer hired by the committee to investigate. He said he would again ask the trustees and staff members to testify voluntarily.

“If they respond and say that they will not do so, then we will proceed to subpoena those individuals who refuse to sit down for a voluntary interview and then we will move forward with our investigation, gathering the facts and coming to an impartial and objective evidence-based report,” he said.

Slottee said the committee’s authority to conduct an investigation is supported by state law.

Rodell was fired in December, six weeks after she raised fundamental questions about whether the board was committed to the corporation’s independence.

Trustees have not given a public explanation for why they fired Rodell. But board chair Craig Richards has said that the firing was appropriate. He pointed to negative reviews in her personnel file from some trustees that date back four years.

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Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.