LETTER CONFIRM'S LEGISLATURE'S ROLE IN JET'S PURCHASE
September 02, 2006
Just how did the Governor get that Jet? A letter issued this
week by the Alaska Department of Public Safety confirms that
Governor Frank H. Murkowski, in May, used language included by
the Alaska Legislature in a budget bill to finance the purchase.
According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety letter, the
state still owes $2.6 million on a "line of credit"
the state secured to pay for the Governor's Westwind II Executive
Alaska Democrats said Friday
that the purchase of the jet could easily have been prevented.
Sen. Gretchen Guess (D-Anchorage) said, "We could have easily
prevented the Governor's Jet purchase. Alaskans would be right
to say we should have done that when we had the chance."
In 2005 Sen. Guess and other Democrats warned that even though
the Legislature didn't provide Governor Murkowski with funds
to pay for his jet, budget language passed by the legislature
would still allow his jet purchase. That language authorized
the state to sell existing aircraft to pay for the new Westwind
II executive jet. A letter this week from the Department of Public
Safety confirms that, pursuant to this legislative authorization,
one of the state's King Air prop planes was sold in May. The
proceeds from this sale were then used to pay down the state's
debt obligations on the jet.
Guess pointed this language out during the 2005 budget debate,
and introduced an amendment to prevent the state from using the
proceeds from a prop plane sale to finance the jet purchase.
A majority of the Republican-led Senate voted against the amendment
In a 100-plus page budget bill was language that stated: "[P]roceeds
from the sale of Department of Public Safety aircraft
and surplus aircraft parts and accessories are appropriated from
the general fund to the Department of Public Safety for the
purchase of replacement aircraft or for aircraft maintenance."
This language gave the Governor authority to pledge the sale
of one of his King Air prop planes to secure financing the state
received in 2005, following the passage of the 2005 budget bill,
for the Westwind Jet.
The amendment Guess offered on May 17, 2005, provided that no
state funds, including funds from the sale of any of the state's
existing fleet of aircraft, could be used "toward the cost
of purchasing, leasing, or operating a fixed wing jet aircraft
by the state."
This week's letter from the Alaska Department of Public Safety
was issued at the request of Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), who
asked how the state was paying the financing on the Westwind
According to Sen. Hollis French (D-Anchorage), who also voted
for Guess' Amendment, "The Legislature had an opportunity
to act, and it didn't."
"We wouldn't have to worry about whether the Governor's
using this jet for personal travel if we simply stopped him from
buying it in the first place," said Sen. Kim Elton (D-Juneau).
Elton has chronicled the Governor's misuse of this jet since
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