Politics

Permanent Fund chairman says politics was not a factor in firing of executive director Angela Rodell

Says the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. The dismissal of CEO Angela Rudel “was not based on political or other external considerations,” denying the former director’s allegations.

President Craig Richards’ statement was included in a letter he sent Thursday to the Alaska Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, which set a Monday hearing to investigate Rudel’s surprise December 9 release.

The letter cites performance reviews by current and former board members saying they lack confidence in Rodell. Those revisions were included in Rodell’s 296-page personnel file, which was released Wednesday by the company after public records were requested by the Daily News.

Richards’ statement is the first time a member of the company’s Board of Trustees has explained Rodell’s removal. She was fired after a year that included national and international acclaim and record earnings for the permanent fund.

On Monday, Rudel said the board’s 5-1 vote to dismiss her was an act of “political revenge” by Governor Mike Dunleavy’s appointees. The governor has previously proposed spending from the permanent fund more than allowed under rules passed by the legislature in 2018. Rodell has spoken out against the idea on multiple occasions, advising state lawmakers to follow a “rules-based framework” when spending from the fund.

[Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s former director says her firing was ‘political retribution’]

Two-thirds of Alaska’s general-purpose revenue comes from dividends from permanent fund investments, and Rodell’s previously unexplained removal has raised concerns among lawmakers that the company responsible for those dividends has become politicized.

Richards’ letter to lawmakers says Rudell is an “employee at will” and “her termination was the result of pre-existing concerns raised in previous performance reviews.”

Rodell’s personnel file shows high ratings in her first two years on the job, but the third shows a strained relationship with the board of directors, whose members are appointed by the governor of Alaska.

That review examined 2018, which is when the board was appointed by Governor Bill Walker. When Walker appointees were replaced by appointees and re-appointments at Dunleavy in subsequent years, the board’s opinion did not change significantly.

The reasons for the tension between Rodell and the board are not fully explained in the reviews.

“There was a lack of confidence in the Board of Directors by me, and in me by the Board of Directors,” Rodell wrote in a 2020 self-assessment.

That year, the board directed the company’s chief investment officer to report to it directly, avoiding Rudel. Despite what Rudel called “mutual mistrust,” the board raised Rudel’s salary.

In its final review, conducted in late 2021 and released separately by Rodell on Monday, board members said they felt it was manipulated.

An anonymous member of the Board of Trustees said, “Information that reaches the Board of Directors is controlled and manipulated, sometimes the goals of the Board are ignored or even undermined, and in recent years a number of trustees have lost confidence in its correctness and leadership.”

Writing to the Legislative Committee on Thursday, Richards said, “Each trustee is a fiduciary agent of the Alaska Permanent Fund and makes all decisions based on the trustee’s informed view as to what is in the best interests of the fund. The decision to search for a new CEO was neither unanimous nor easy. predetermined to complete its performance review.”

Rudel said Friday that she did not read Richards’ letter, but she stands by the claim that her expulsion was an act of political retaliation.

When asked about the comments in her last comment, she said, “What exactly was I supposed to do? When I manage people, I talk to you about it. I talk about the challenges I’m having in your performance, we set goals, we set specific metrics in 90 days, or 120 A day, or whatever the time period, and I could go back and say, ‘Okay, that’s what I asked you to do. Here’s what you did, here’s what you didn’t, and here’s how I didn’t see you correct it. “

That didn’t happen here, Rudel said.

“I don’t think I could have done anything to prevent the shooting,” she said.

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