APOC says Henry did not violate financial disclosure requirements

Alaska’s Public Offices Commission (APOC) has found no Public Official Financial Disclosure (POFD) violations for Assembly Member Dan Henry in relation to trips to Florida undertaken in 2013 and 2014 as part of White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad lease talks.

As an assembly member, Henry was subject to POFD requirements, including a requirement to disclose all gifts from a single source with a cumulative value exceeding $250 in one calendar year.

According to the final order from APOC on the case, Skagway resident Roger Griffin filed a complaint in 2017 alleging that Henry had violated this and that during multiple trips to Florida to work on a tidelands lease – which was voted down in 2015 – White Pass parent company TWC Enterprises had paid for Henry’s lodging and meals.

The Municipality of Skagway had covered Henry’s airfare. APOC staff investigated the situation, and the costs of lodging, meals and rounds of golf played in Florida, and recommended the commission find a violation and impose a penalty.

In response, the report states Henry had argued that the lodging costs were not gifts to him, but to the municipality, and that “golf costs were not a gift because TWC owned the golf courses and thus incurred no expense.”

In its final decision on the matter, the commission declared that Henry “did not violate the POFD requirements by failing to disclose the hotel costs paid by TWC because they were not a gift to him.”

“Because Henry was traveling on official business for Skagway, Skagway was going to completely reimburse him for his lodging costs, just as it had paid for his airfare,” the final report states. Furthermore, the report states meals for immediate consumption don’t count as gifts. Lastly, the rounds of golf and golf balls given to Henry did count as gifts, APOC’s final report said, but the record “does not establish that they totaled over $250 within a calendar year and thus does not establish a POFD violation.”

When asked about APOC’s finding, Henry said the process was “exhausting.”

He said he had been tasked to leave Skagway, go to Florida, deliver the agreement the assembly had approved and return to Skagway.

Letting TWC pay for the lodgings saved Skagway money, and didn’t affect his personal bottom line, Henry said.

“During that entire time, not one red cent was going to be spent by Dan Henry,” Henry said. “Period, it didn’t matter. If I took a taxi cab, whatever, I would get a receipt and was going to come back and give it to the city and they would reimburse me.”

Local students put questions to former U.S. president

A group of Skagway students recently asked some questions and got answers from President Jimmy Carter during a livestream event on Presidents Day.

Streamed from the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, the former president collaborated with the National Parks Service (NPS) for the lecture.

“We had a good group of students show up for the lecture,” said Skagway teacher Rebecca Sullivan.

With Sullivan’s help, the students batted around ideas for questions to put to Carter, several of which the former president was able to answer.

In Skagway’s history classes, Sullivan said Carter’s name comes up the most during Alaska history, in regards to his work to put more land under federal protection with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

“In Alaska history you teach that it was an incredibly controversial bill,” Sullivan said. “And it was…we have photographs of people burning effigies of Jimmy Carter.”

Sullivan said the ANILCA bill caused concern in Southeast Alaska over the impact it had on the lumber industry, with some thinking it was an overreach of the central government.

“After living in Skagway for a year and a half, my perspective is Skagway’s economy is doing much better than a lot of people’s because of the tourism,” Sullivan said. “And people come here to see the trees and the mountains and that sort of thing, so we were wondering if Jimmy Carter knew any more economic pluses to conserving the environment.”

Another question Skagway asked Carter was if he had any advice on how to navigate the current media landscape.
“And his advice to the kids was to look at as many different sources and media outlets as they could, even if you didn’t really agree with what you were reading or you knew a particular source to be biased, to consistently go back and see the different points of view, and to take them all into consideration,” Sullivan said. “That was pretty phenomenal to hear such a balanced, rational answer from a former president to the kids.”

Steaven McKnight, one of the students who watched the livestream on President’s Day, said he thought it was “really cool” that Skagway was able to get direct responses from the former president, and that Carter knew where the borough was.

“Overall I thought it was pretty cool to see – in my opinion, which is pretty opinionated – an old white guy who actually cared, and he was understanding that national parks are really important,” McKnight said.