Alaska lawmakers hire law firm to investigate CEO firing

JUNEAU (AP) — An Alaska legislative committee is hiring a law firm to investigate the firing of the former head of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.

Angela Rodell was fired by the corporation board last month. Rodell, who had been the corporation’s CEO since late 2015, has said she believes her firing was “political retribution” for advocating against exceeding draw limits set on the earnings of the nest-egg permanent fund.

Board chair Craig Richards has said that Rodell was an at-will employee and cited negative evaluations of Rodell’s performance. KTOO Public Media reports that he also has declined to provide details, calling it a confidential personnel matter.

The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, comprised of House and Senate members, voted unanimously Thursday to hire a law firm and to authorize the issuance of subpoenas, if needed, as part of the investigation.

The committee intends to hire attorneys from the Anchorage firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, with a contract, expected to be finalized next week, of up to $100,000.

The investigation is expected to examine the circumstances surrounding Rodell’s firing and whether there were any improper actions or undue political influence by board members or Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.

Dunleavy has said he had no knowledge of or influence over Rodell’s firing.

“It is this committee’s goal that the fund is protected from political intervention or manipulation to ensure the fund’s continued growth and sustainability,” the committee chair, Anchorage Republican Sen. Natasha von Imhof, said in explaining the decision to hire the firm.

Von Imhof said she hopes the investigators’ report will be completed before the end of the legislative session.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. manages the assets of the state’s nest-egg oil-wealth fund, which was valued at $82 billion at the end of 2021.