By Stacy Drake
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Last Friday, Andrew Halcro took to his blog to suggest that he had a big story set to release on Monday concerning an alleged FBI investigation of the Matanuska Creamery, or as he calls it,”Palin’s Milkman.” Andrew has a long history of distorting the facts on this issue, he also has an old axe to grind. For those of you who don’t know, Governor Palin beat Halcro during the Alaska Gubernatorial race in 2006. He received a whopping 9% of the vote and she went on to become state’s governor. As Rebecca Mansour once wrote:
At least John Binkley, Frank Murkowski, and Tony Knowles had the dignity to lose graciously.
That wasn’t the case with Mr. Halcro.
Monday night, as predicted by anyone who knows about Andrew, he released an innuendo-filled, fact deficient screed to the Alaska media. He began:
The Palin-era dairy bailout seemed like such a bad idea back in 2007. Bailing out an industry that couldn’t stand on its own two feet. Appointing unqualified cronies to key positions and then allowing them to give away state agriculture loans without guarantees or proper collateral. But today, rumors abound that the FBI has come knocking.
Several of my longtime confidential sources stated last week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is knee-deep in trying to unwind some of the financial activity surrounding the use of federal government grants awarded to the Matanuska Creamery.
“Something is going on with an FBI investigation regarding the federal grant funds. The FBI has been contacting folks about checks they were given with cash back,” read an email I received from one long time dairy source.
“It appears the FBI Investigation is focused on one of the major shareholders,” a follow-up email read from yet another agriculture insider.
In a phone interview with andrewhalcro.com, Anchorage FBI Special Agent Eric Gonzalez refused to admit or deny that the Bureau was investigating the Matanuska Creamery. Saying it was agency’s policy not to publicly comment, Gonzalez offered nothing by way of confirmation.
What does a supposed (yet not even confirmed) investigation of “major shareholders” have to do with Governor Palin? Answer: absolutely nothing.
He refers to it as the “Palin-era dairy bailout” but that’s a simplistic and misleading characterization of the issue. Halcro loves to act as though Governor Palin tried to bail out the dairy to save it and because it closed down, she failed. He even likes to act as though she tried to take it out of the hands of the people who were running it and hand it over to her friends as some sort of crony kickback, as you will later read. All of that is categorically false.
As Ian pointed out after reading some of the emails from the Palin administration released to the media back in June, 2011:
It is true that the Mat-Maid Dairy closed about a year after the Governor stepped in to prevent the dairy from being closed. What is also true is that the Governor also wanted the dairy to close if a successful financial plan could not be created. The reason why she fought the earlier attempt to close the dairy is because the state had already made commitments that would have been broken had the dairy closed immediately. The Governor essentially wanted the dairy to close if an alternative financial plan could not be realized but she wanted to close it in a way so that the state did not break any commitments it had made to farmers that would be violated by the sudden closure of the dairy.
How do we know these were the Governor’s intentions? #Palinemails:
Dairy farmers were told their last day to deliver milk is June 27th. The state just broke its word again if we were to roll over for the board ‘ s ridiculous vote to shut it down without proper notice…Farmers will be dumping their milk in the parking lot of DNR if we don’t step in and show the leadership they’re craving and deserving
We need to regroup and get good business minds in there to figure out close – out plan in next yr or so, or re -vitalization plan for Ag.
If the Governor did indeed want the dairy to stay open, she wouldn’t have talked about how they needed to “figure out [a] close-out plan.”
One of her staffers sent her an e-mail after the dairy closed that strongly supports the account that I have outlined regarding the Governor’s intentions for the Mat-Maid dairy:
Nice job governor! Despite the critics, namely halcro, mat-maid closes its books with money in the bank and there’s still equipment and facilities to sell. Alaskans should know YOUR decision to put a new board in place, 600.0 to help w the transition, essentially granting an extention to the livelihood of farmers after the previous mngmnt and bd decided to abruptly close the doors, etc.
If the Governor never intended for the dairy to close, why would one of her staffers send her an e-mail congratulating her for the plant “clos[ing] its books with money in the bank?” If the Governor indeed wanted the dairy to survive, the staffer would not have sent her an e-mail saying how great it is that the dairy closed.
So, Governor Palin wanted the dairy closed just as everybody else but being a responsible executive, did it in a way that wouldn’t create a lot of unintended consequences and victims. She didn’t want the state to break its commitment to the farmers because keeping her word actually means something to the Governor.
Now, keep in mind that the Mat-Maid diary issue had been going on in Alaska for a long time. It was something that should have been taken care of years ago, but no other administration touched it because it was a messy and contentious job, and attention seekers like Halcro would undoubtedly be on the sidelines complaining the entire time while Mat-Su farmers’ livelihoods were at stake.
Governor Palin was the only governor willing to correct the situation, and she did it in a way that wouldn’t hurt the farmers who had nothing to do with corrupt practices of those running the dairy. She wanted to keep the Mat-Maid operations going temporarily, then to move it to a sort of managed bankruptcy that gradually phased out the state government’s involvement and moved this service to the private sector. This is what the Palin administration did and to claim she had any other intention is grossly dishonest.
But Halcro does claim that Governor Palin had other intentions. He actually has the chutzpah to accuse her of engaging in cronyism. He states:
After Mat-Maid’s overseer the Creamery Board had recommended shutting down the state owned dairy to prevent major financial losses to taxpayers, then-Gov. Sarah Palin began a public assault on the board and Mat-Maid executives. She falsely accused them of being dishonest and mismanaging the dairy. The Valley milk farmers, who stood to lose if a state bailout didn’t happen, were Palin’s neighbors and friends.
Over the next six months Palin fired Mat-Maid’s management. Fired the Creamery Board. Installed her friends and neighbors to run the daily operations of Mat Maid and the state agency that grants agriculture loans. Accumulated record financial losses, after the transition, by keeping Mat-Maid open. And then allowed her appointed friends to loan themselves hundreds of thousands from the agriculture revolving loan fund to start a new dairy.
Today the end is near, and the story line continues to highlight how Palin’s populist bailout has grown into a financial and possibly criminal disaster.
At the end of the day, the Palin-era dairy bailout will stand the test of time as a very costly and ill conceived attempt at government subsidized cow capital cronyism.
The Creamery Board wanted to shut down because they were trying to cover up their own corruption. Palin rightly fired the management because of these business practices, not because she was trying to give her “neighbors and friends” some sort of gift. And just who are these “neighbors and friends” Halcro is speaking of? Basically, any dairy farmer in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, as if she knew them all on a personal level. To call any farmer from her home district a “crony” is absurd. Please note that the Mat-Su Valley is one of the only places in Alaska were any of this sort of farming occurs.
The funny irony of all of this is that Andrew Halcro owns an Avis Car Rental business in Anchorage.
He does his business at a publicly financed and maintained airport. You don’t see him complaining taxpayer money going to help he and his fellow car rental business (or shall I call them his “neighbors and friends“) owners, now do you? The people funded the airport, which directs traffic directly to his kiosks, allowing him to profit. This isn’t really a big deal considering the nature of his business, it’s just when someone projects themselves as carrying an ideological sword, while at the same time benefiting from that which they condemn, it’s certainly telling of that person’s character.
This latest hit-piece from Halcro shouldn’t surprise anyone. The man is a known liar and fraud. Case in point, in 2009 C4P noted the time Andrew edited something Governor Palin had told a reporter for his radio program:
The “Bob and Mark Show” has called out Andrew Halcro for editing and distorting an answer given by Governor Palin to a reporter. Halcro edited the audio so that it appears as if Governor Palin gave a hesitant answer. However, closer inspection shows that Halcro edited the answer by one of Governor Palin’s assistants and inserted it in front of Palin’s response:
1. The voice Halcro used is a male voice!
2. The response given by Palin’s assistant was a nearly two minute answer.
Bob and Mark added that Halcro “gets paid to hate Sarah Palin.”
Halcro no longer gets paid to hate Sarah Palin (I don’t think), but there’s no doubt that he still does. His bitter resentment stemming from the 2006 election hasn’t faded in the least. He hasn’t moved on or grown as a person at all. Instead, he uses his “insider information” about people (none of which being Governor Palin) allegedly being investigated by the FBI, and turns it into another opportunity to bash the Governor by misleading people about what she really did during her tenure. It’s sad, it’s pathetic, and it’s disingenuous. If people abused federal grant funds, let those people pay the consequences. Their actions are no reflection of Governor Palin’s service to her constituents while in office, or what she was doing by dealing with this complex issue in a responsible manner.
By the way, if any of you plan on visiting Anchorage in the future, I recommend renting a car from Hertz, Thrifty, Enterprise, or any company other than Avis. There’s no reason to give this deranged hypocrite your money.