Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy Names Figure Behind Illegal College Board Loyalty Pledge Scheme

a statute out
A statue of Charles Bunnell, the first president of the Alaska College of Agriculture and School of Mines, as the University of Alaska Fairbanks was once known, is seen September 18 on the UAF campus. An administrative order issued by Gov. Mike Dunleavy eliminates college degree requirements for most state jobs. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Governor Mike Dunleavy appointed Tuckerman Babcock, a longtime Republican and former aide, to the University of Alaska Board of Regents. Babcock, along with the governor, orchestrated an illegal loyalty pledge scheme, a federal judge ruled two years ago.

The governor’s office announced Babcock’s appointment Wednesday night after the Alaska Legislature rejected an earlier election for the position. Lawmakers did not confirm Bethany Marcum on the 11-person board in May.

Several sitting lawmakers said they believe the Legislature is unlikely to confirm Babcock when it meets next spring.

In Dunleavy’s first year, Babcock supported the governor’s plan to slash spending on state services, including college. Marcum’s support for those cuts in 2019 was cited as one reason for his failed confirmation this year.

Whether confirmed or not, Babcock will sit as a board member in the interim, participating in the university’s annual budget process and policy discussions.

“Tuckerman’s experience serving in numerous government positions across the state and 10 years in business administration make him a perfect fit for the University of Alaska Board of Regents,” Dunleavy said in a prepared statement. “I am grateful for his continued service and commitment to the state of Alaska. I am confident that Tuckerman’s expert knowledge of public service and leadership will continue to help Alaska improve.”

During his time as Dunleavy’s chief of staff, Babcock was found to have illegally fired three state employees as part of an illegal loyalty-pledge scheme.

The state agreed to pay nearly half a million dollars to two doctors at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute to settle a lawsuit stemming from the scheme. A separate case, involving former state prosecutor Libby Bakalar, is scheduled for trial for damages later this year.

Babcock ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2022, losing to fellow Republican Jesse Bjorkman in the race to replace Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. He previously served as head of the Alaska Republican Party and as a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

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