Alaska’s Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell is currently “exploring” a campaign for the 2014 Republican nomination against Sen. Mark Begich (D). With a history of working in the oil industry and a record of support for drilling at will, he would likely be one of the most extreme and environmentally irresponsible members of the Senate.
His far right conspiracy theories are eerily reminiscent of another Alaskan politician he has wholeheartedly embraced — former Gov. Sarah Palin (R).
1. He loves drilling. A founding member of the Yukon Pacific Corporation, the company that began the Alaska gas pipeline project. His 2010 campaign for Lt. Governor focused on a platform of “fighting the feds” to get more oil into Alaska’s pipeline, building a gas pipeline, and expanding exports. He complained that the federal government denies Alaskan drillers legal access to oil and gas sources purely because of “visual impact.”
2. He denies climate-change science and dismisses its dangers. In seeking the endorsement of the Conservative Patriots Group (an Alaskan Tea Party organization), Treadwell said he is unconvinced CO2 emissions drive climate change: “I challenge the argument that man made CO2 emissions are causing significant global warming and I will oppose any costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness.” Treadwell cheers the “accessible arctic” that would come from melting ice and suggests that declining cultural traditions are a bigger concern — telling a Republican group: “If you think climate’s changing in Alaska, glaciers are receding, sea ice is opening up, and all of that, one of the things that to me is very dramatic is that there are many, many Alaskan native youth today who do not speak the language of their grandparents.”
3. He opposed Obamacare and student loan reform, because he believed they created “death panels.” Echoing Palin’s widely-debunked claim, Treadwell widely mischaracterized President Obama’s health care reform law and student loan reform. At a 2010 debate, he argued: “Government’s job is to protect our liberties and to protect our property, not to take our rights away. It’s also to our job to come in and tell you, if you’re a doctor ‘you’re now a utility and whatever you charge and decide to do is subject to government regulation.’ Some other things in that bill [were] entirely nuts. They had a plan to try to reduce the cost of student loans by getting the banks out of the way, as middlemen. Instead they said, ‘no, let’s keep the same price, throw the banks out of business, and use that as a tax to help pay for this thing.” Noting his late wife’s struggle with brain cancer, he said “thank goodness there were not death panels… Sarah Palin was right on blowing the whistle on that issue.”
4. He opposes not just marijuana legalization but even medical marijuana. Though he claims to be an advocate of privacy and a “liberty agenda,” Treadwell takes a hard line on even medical marijuana. At a 2010 debate — two years before Colorado voted to legalize and regulate marijuana — Treadwell criticized it and other states that allowed those with a medical need to access the drug. “I believe we should have solid drug laws,” he argued, “I don’t like the situation in CO and CA right now that has basically meant you can get pot in a store as easily as you can get a pizza. I don’t think that makes sense.”
5. He opposes all new revenue, but pushed for more government spending. Treadwell signed Grover Norquist’s iron-clad oath against ever increasing taxes of any kind. In a 2010 debate, he pushed other candidates to do the same. While he opposing ever seeking new revenue, he boasted of his efforts to “dramatically” increase Alaska’s infrastructure through “joint federal and state investment in sanitation, health, and energy facilities.” Last month, he actually criticized the draconian Paul Ryan House Republican budget plan for not balancing the budget quickly enough.
6. He opposed an bill that made ballot initiative funding more transparent, citing his support for parental notification legislation. In 2010, Alaska’s Republican-controlled legislature enacted HB 36, the Open and Transparent Initiative Act, to make it easier for votes to know who is behind ballot initiatives and who is paying for them. As a 2010 Lt. Governor candidate forum, Treadwell explained that he would have opposed the law. His reasoning was that “the constitution did set up a process that hasn’t really happened with the legislation. You go around, get lots and lots of signatures, they made it harder to get the signatures, and the legislature is supposed to respond.” He then complained, “I’m also very sad and upset that we have to go to a ballot initiative to keep the rights of parents to know what their daughter is doing,” as the legislature did not enact a law preventing pregnant minors from obtaining an abortion without parental notification.
7. He loved the late Sen. Ted Stevens because he was “anti-Communist” and brought home pork. In a memorial post for the National Review, Treadwell wrote that the late Senator was a hero: “Stevens was labeled a big spender; conservative circles hung a “bridge to nowhere” around his neck in the year or so before he left. But he was a staunch anti-Communist when it counted, and he supported Ronald Reagan’s efforts to bring down the Soviet Union. He constantly pushed back against environmental extremism, but was a realist about supporting science and technology to address environmental and health problems. … Even conservatives fail us sometimes: Stevens’s natural allies in pushing to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, for instance, were often the same folks who broke with him when he sought to replace a national icebreaker fleet that can hardly handle the reduced conditions of the Arctic. Thus, in his latter days, just as he’d accrued the seniority to guide appropriations, Stevens’s practice of ‘earmarks’ became a target. Since Congress wouldn’t let us drill for new oil, we were told, we had decided to ‘drill’ in the federal budget.” Treadwell, who once served as a page for Stevens, continues the late Senator’s push for federal money for icrebreaking ships.
8. Like Palin, he has connections to the controversial Alaskan Independence Party. In 1990, Alaskans elected Gov. Walter Hickel and Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill on the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP) ticket. Hickel, who had served a term as a Republican in the 1960s, was Treadwell’s “longtime mentor and close friend.” Coghill, who went on to chair the AIP, headlined Treadwell’s 2010 Fairbanks campaign kickoff event. The platform of the AIP under Coghill called for “privatization of government services,” “complete abolition of the concept of sovereign or governmental immunity, so as to restore accountability for public servants,” and “the rights of parents to privately or home school their children and to provide them individually the right to access to a proportional share of all money provided for educational purposes as an unrestricted grant for such purposes.” Historically, the AIP has advocated for a referendum on whether the state should secede from the United States.
Treadwell received the Conservative Patriots Group’s Tea Party endorsement in 2010, but lost it when the group discovered he had contributed to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R) re-election campaign.