Dunleavy's constitutional adviser has long attacked Alaska Constitution as 'awful'

Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy named Fairbanks State Farm insurance agent Dick Randolph as a “special adviser on constitutional amendments.”

Based on his long history in state politics, Randolph would like nothing better than to see radical changes in the Alaska Constitution so that state resources are transferred to private companies, all in the interests of fighting socialism.

Randolph served as a co-chairman of Dunleavy’s campaign and his appointment as a transition adviser could represent anything from a polite gesture of thanks to a serious effort to try to rewrite the rules of Alaska government.

It is always difficult to get constitutional amendments through the Legislature. And the small majority in the House does not set the stage for securing the two-thirds vote needed in both the House and the Senate to advance any proposal to a general election.

Any amendment dealing with the Permanent Fund Dividend, one of Dunleavy’s interests, will face serious opposition because there are many points of view about how a dividend formula would fit into state finances overall.

Randolph, 82, was first elected to the state House from Fairbanks in 1970 as a Republican. He became a Libertarian in 1978 and led an initiative drive that prompted legislators to get rid of the state income tax in 1980.

He has long claimed that much of what is wrong in Alaska stems from defects in the Alaska Constitution.

"I always thought the state Constitution is awful," he said in a 2014 interview with the Daily News-Miner. "We have the only socialist economic system that is constitutionally mandated. All subsurface wealth is mandated to be owned by the state, so we can't have a private economy."

Randolph lost as both a Libertarian and as a Republican when he ran for governor in the 1980s. He talks about systemic changes under which subsurface rights would go to private parties.

As Gordon Harrison wrote in his study of the Alaska Constitution, a portion of the Statehood Act prohibited the state from parting with its title to minerals on its land entitlement. “Mineral deposits in such lands shall be subject to lease by the state as the Legislature may direct,” it said.

Randolph will argue that individual Alaskans would be the big winners under his approach. The world’s best insurance salesman couldn’t convince me of that.

The oil companies that made fortunes on the North Slope would have done much better had Alaska entered the oil boom with a Constitution written to Dick Randolph’s liking.

In 2006, while almost everyone else celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Alaska Constitution, Randolph mourned. He went after former Gov. Wally Hickel, stopping just short of calling him a Commie.

He drew a straight line from Karl Marx to the “owner state” mentality that Hickel promoted.

“The French Revolution brought it to France; Marx and Lenin brought it to Russia. It then spread to much of the rest of the world with devastating results,” Randolph wrote in the Daily News-Miner.

“Alaska is the only state in the nation whose Constitution dictates collective government ownership of literally all of the natural wealth in the state,” Randolph claimed.

“Because of this, there truly is very little ‘primary’ private economy in Alaska today. The state, the federal government and the 12 regional Alaska Native corporations own almost all the wealth-producing capacity, and they will continue at an accelerated rate to control the economy and, hence, our social structure.”

In 1992, Randolph said that state ownership of subsurface rights had “led to major misallocations of our wealth, our intellect, our initiative and our morality.”

“Because of this basic flaw, we Alaskans are headed for economic and social disaster,” he said.

In Randolph’s mind, state leaders have “succeeded at manipulating most Alaskans” into attempting to take advantage of “handouts.”

He was not referring to the Permanent Fund Dividend, but to regular state and local government programs.

“History is replete with examples of either collapsed collectivist systems or the evolution of those systems into a hierarchy of the very few, very well politically connected, very wealthy people who control the much poorer masses with government handouts, like most of Alaska's economy. “

Randolph claims the 55 Alaskans who wrote the Alaska Constitution shaped it to please “East Coast lawyers” and the final result was nothing but a gimmick to get statehood.

He’s always been wrong about this. A more accurate description came from the late Rep. Fred Brown, a scholar and historian on the subject. “Evil Outside Big Government did not write Alaska’s Constitution. Fifty-five Alaskans did,” Brown wrote in 1992.

He said that the Constitution did not fix the price of oil, or the number of fish. It did not dictate the amount of federal spending, international market conditions or the desire of tourists to visit Alaska. The Constitution represented the work of Alaskans who came together with many political opinions and shared a common goal.

“They sought the best for Alaska, without regard to party or ideology,” Brown said. “The Constitution was celebrated as one of the nation’s finest. It still is.”

Dermot Cole6 Comments