Alaska’s new elections director, a Trump donor, stays quiet on 2020 election fairness nationally

a portrait of a woman wearing glasses and a vest
Carol Beecher, the new director of the Alaska Division of Elections, answers questions from reporters on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

In her initial interview with Alaska reporters, the new director of the state Division of Elections declined to say whether President Joe Biden was fairly elected in 2020.

Carol Beecher, a registered Republican and donor to Trump’s 2016 election campaign, was appointed by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Wednesday.

“I can’t speak to what happened nationwide,” she said when asked about the 2020 presidential election. “I voted, I think that it was done in accordance to the law in Alaska. And that’s what I can speak to. I don’t know how the things went in the other states.”

Beecher characterized herself as “a layman” on elections, and when asked whether she believes Biden was elected fairly, she said, “I believe that President Biden was elected, and that it was in accordance to the laws and requirements of the various states. I know, there’s been a lot of controversy about that issue. But I don’t know enough to know what happened in those various states,” she said.

Of 44 federal court cases filed by the former president and his supporters over the results of the 2020 presidential election, Trump prevailed in only one, and that was later overturned.

In Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania — all states decided by tight margins and key to the national result — hand counts and post-election audits confirmed the result and found no evidence of fraud significant enough to sway the result. 

On Thursday, Dominion Voting Systems, which provides the tabulation machines used in Alaska and many of the previously mentioned states, released a 192-page legal filing arguing that Fox News deliberately lied about election fraud after the election. The network is facing a billion-dollar libel lawsuit from Dominion.

Before his departure from office at the start of December, former Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said addressing and defeating misinformation turned into one of the key challenges for the Division of Elections during his term. Meyer is a Republican.

In an interview before her retirement in December, former Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai, a registered nonpartisan voter, advised her as-yet-unnamed successor to stay out of politics.

“You have to keep partisan stuff out of this business,” she said.

Beecher is an experienced administrator at the Department of Revenue with a history of donating to Republican candidates, including to Dahlstrom, who appointed her as director.

“I was not aware that she had donated to our campaign nor did I look at any of the campaign donation situations at any of the folks I spoke with,” Dahlstrom said.

She also said she was unaware that Beecher was a registered Republican, though she suspected that was the case.

Beecher’s career includes time as the scheduler for former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is currently campaigning to overturn the state’s ranked choice voting law after losing the 2022 race for U.S. House. Another supporter of overturning the law is Kelly Tshibaka, an unsuccessful 2022 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Beecher donated to Tshibaka last year, campaign finance records show.

If successful, a ballot measure petition backed by Palin and Tshibaka would have to be examined by the Division of Elections under Beecher.

“I don’t interact with former Gov. Palin. I did have a great time working in her office. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it very much. But we don’t maintain a relationship,” she said.

Beecher said she will not donate to any candidates while serving as elections director but will maintain her registration as a Republican.

State law permits the director to express their private opinion on political issues and register as a member of a political party, but it prohibits them from making political donations.

Dahlstrom encouraged Beecher to apply for the job, citing her experience as an administrator. Beecher has worked since 2011 in the child support section of the Department of Revenue. That agency is in charge of enforcing child support payments and garnishments under court order. 

Adam Crum, commissioner of the Department of Revenue, said she performed well in that role.

“If you go back in time, that was an item of concern for the Legislature, and Carol brought stability to child support services,” he said.

He noted that her section stands at the intersection of state law, federal law and state regulations and deals with contentious issues, experience that would apply to elections.

“Her ability to go over and work in elections is, I think, good for Alaska. Overall, she’s a steady hand. She understands complex problems, and she just brings stability to the process,” he said.

Though knowledgeable about administration, Beecher admitted that she has limited experience with elections work.

Asked about the state’s performance with ranked choice voting in last year’s elections, she demurred.

“I can only come at that from my layman’s perspective as a voter,” she said. 

She similarly declined to comment about potential elections bills in the Legislature.

Dahlstrom said Beecher’s experience made her the correct pick for the job.

“She’s a hard worker. I know she’s very impartial. I know she will follow the law. And she will make sure that the laws are instituted,” Dahlstrom said. “Her opinion doesn’t matter in this and she knows my opinion doesn’t matter. Our job is to honor the laws. That’s the oath that I took. And that’s why I’ve asked her.”

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and Twitter.

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and X.

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