Dozens of corrupt elected officials and organizations across Alaska would love to get their hands on Alaska’s Permanent Fund and make it their own. It has been tried several times and it would mark the end of dividends to Alaskans if they ever succeed. Citizens for Ethical Government, Inc. is an organization that was formed to expose corruption of all kinds, with an emphasis on the most important issue facing Alaska. Protecting and building the Permanent Fund and the revenues that build it so it can survive long enough and get large enough to prevent the economic collapse that is surely to otherwise happen to Alaska if we fail to protect it and prevent its theft until that time.
During my four years as a legislator, I was puzzled by the obsession with tax breaks for oil coming from Revenue Commissioner Tom Williams and a small number of state legislators. Given the huge profits we all knew BP, Arco, and Exxon were raking in from Alaska’s oil, their tax break rational seemed an irrational forfeiture of state revenues.
Unfortunate for Alaska, I was outnumbered and certain to lose whether I went with the program or not, and my South Anchorage District might lose badly needed appropriations for two new schools if I didn’t. Believing my legislative leaders to be honorable people with whom I simply disagreed, I gave in and went along with the passage of what was known as Elf or the Economic Limit Factor tax structure for oil taxes.
When I left the legislature, it became obvious that ELF amounted to a massive transfer of wealth from the Alaska State Treasury to BP, Arco, and Exxon. Later I observed Commissioner of Revenue Tom Williams become BP Exploration’s tax counsel and Chairman of the BP supported Alaska Oil & Gas Association’s Tax Committee. I observed Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ed Dankworth, who pushed ELF through the Senate, and Speaker of the House Joe Hays who pushed ELF through the House, both land fat multiyear lobbying contracts with Veco at $175,000 per year. When the FBI caught Pete Kott telling Veco owner Bill Allen what he wanted for pushing tax breaks for oil, Pete Kott wanted what he knew Joe Hays and Ed Dankworth had received before him.
Had it not been for Dankworth, Williams, and Hays, I believe our Permanent Fund would have swollen to well over $100 billion dollars by now. That’s about how large Alaska’s Permanent Fund would need to be to pay out annual dividends of $2,000 and have enough income left over to cover the state budget when the oil runs out. If we don’t get to the point at which Permanent Fund earnings can replace revenues from oil before the oil runs out, Alaska will replace Appalachia as the poorest reign of the U.S.
The oil companies want us to believe cutting taxes back to old levels will spur investment. However it didn’t spur investment then and there is no guarantee another Prudhoe Bay will be found if it does. The only guarantee we know we have is in the oil we know we have left. If we get what it is worth, deposit our excess revenues in the fund, and fend off those who try to raid it along the way, Alaska’s future will be secure.