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February 25, 2024

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No Time for Tuckerman

Time. It is precious, they say. It flies, they say. And former Republican Party Chair, former Dunleavy Chief of Staff, and now former University of Alaska Regent Tuckerman Babcock has none of it. Again.

As Alaska Republican Party Chair, Babcock was the chief architect of the cannibalization of that Party. He loved the purity test, and if you were a Republican in the legislature and you weren’t far-right authoritarian enough, you were in his crosshairs and some extreme fringy candidate would be drummed up to run against you. And those monsters wasted no time destroying their makers. “RINO!” they cried. He Frankensteined Republicans before Frankensteining Republicans was cool.

And as soon as he wrangled a job as Chief of Staff to Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, he started right off with the purity tests again. Sign this loyalty oath to the Governor’s agenda, he said to non-partisan state workers the very day the new administration began, or kiss your state job goodbye. And heads began rolling, and the First Amendment was left with its chin on the ground.

Soon after that, vital state services had their turn at the chopping block. The ferry system, health care, the arts – but the biggest baddest bone saw was reserved for the University of Alaska, which was utterly brutalized by the draconian Dunleavy/Babcock budget cuts.

Thumbing their noses at the Constitution and devastating the state put Dunleavy in the middle of a giant recall effort which arguably could have been successful if not for COVID bringing life and everything in it to a screeching halt. But it was clear, the administration needed a brisk Etch-a-Sketch shaking if it wanted to survive.

For those who may not remember Babcock’s resignation letter from the Dunleavy administration (and why on earth should you?) here’s the important part.

I mean, family first, amirite? The ship of Alaska will sail on, bla bla bla.

“I wish Tuckerman nothing but the best in retirement and his desire to spend more time with his family and many grandchildren,” the governor said.

That first resignation bomb dropped the Friday of Labor Day weekend in 2019, when he hoped no one was looking. By 2021 a federal judge had ruled that both Babcock and Dunleavy had indeed violated both the state and federal constitution by sending those demands for written loyalty pledges in exchange for continued employment to state employees. The State of Alaska ended up paying a whopping $845,000 to settle lawsuits brought by three state employees who were wrongfully terminated.

But that was then.

In 2022 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for State Senate. Because nothing allows you to spend quality time with your family like running for office.

By summer 2023… so much for family time again! Babcock was back in the saddle after Dunleavy stuck him on the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska via recess appointment. Yes, the same university that was beaten to a pulp and left on the side of the road under his supervision. For the fox to snag that appointment in the henhouse, he apparently retired from his family to go spend more time at work.

But of course, he’d need to be approved as a Regent by the legislature. And Dunleavy’s previous appointment, Bethany Marcum, was ultimately rejected by the legislature for supporting those university cuts. But Babcock was undaunted! It was full steam ahea…

***screeching break noise***

“I simply find myself unable to devote the full time and attention to the Board that you, my fellow Regents and the University certainly deserve,” Babcock wrote in a letter to the Board Wednesday.

I guess he felt it was time to re-re-recommit to spending time with his family. I mean what else could it be?

“The state of Alaska has paid $350,000 to settle a four-year-old lawsuit that found Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his former chief of staff personally liable for illegally firing a state attorney.

The settlement with Elizabeth Bakalar ends a series of state and federal lawsuits triggered when Dunleavy and former chief of staff Tuckerman Babcock — now a member of the University of Alaska Board of Regents — asked state employees to submit resignation letters during the transition from the administration of Gov. Bill Walker.”

On the very same day? Surely, that’s just coincidence. Right?

And once again “the ship of Alaska” will sail on without Tuckerman Babcock. Hopefully he takes up needlepoint, or birding to fill his time and stays away from anything involving law, governance, or education.

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