Angela Rodell led the Alaska Permanent Fund to record growth

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.

Under Angela Rodell, the Alaska Permanent Fund grew by more than 60% since 2015 to more than $80 billion.

The former director of Alaska’s multi-billion-dollar investment fund is alleging her abrupt dismissal by appointees of Gov. Mike Dunleavy was politically motivated.

In her first public statement since the Dec. 9, 2021, termination, Angela Rodell said: “I believe my removal to be political retribution for successfully carrying the Board’s mandate to protect the Fund and advocate against any additional draws over the POMV [percent of market value] spending rule in front of the 30th, 31st and 32nd Alaska State Legislatures, which is contrary to Governor Dunleavy’s agenda.”

Rodell’s statement was part of a letter the former chief executive officer emailed to Sen. Natasha von Imhof, chair of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee, which is investigating the firing.

The committee has scheduled a Jan. 17th hearing on the issue and has invited the board of trustees to testify.

Lawmakers have asked the six-member board of trustees to turn over all communications related to Rodell’s employment, performance and removal.

Dunleavy’s proposed budget, released after Rodell’s termination, does not seek to withdraw from the fund’s earnings more than rules require.

In August 2021, Dunleavy had proposed drawing $3 billion more than planned from the Permanent Fund to cover costs for the next few years as lawmakers looked for other revenue sources.

Under Rodell’s management, the wealth fund grew from $52 billion to $81 billion in six years, providing 70% of Alaska’s unrestricted general fund revenues in fiscal 2021.

The Alaska Permanent Fund is the largest state-level fund of its kind in the United States. In addition to supporting state government services, the fund pays out annual dividends to every eligible Alaskan, regardless of age.

On Dec. 9, 2021, the board of trustees voted 5-1 to terminate Rodell. She had led the fund since 2015.

Voting in the affirmative were Revenue Commissioner Lucinda Mahoney, Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige, former attorney general Craig Richards, former state lawmaker Steve Rieger and Ethan Shutt, vice president of Bristol Bay Corp.

Bill Moran voted against her removal. Moran is finishing up his four-year term this year.

The board is composed of governor-appointed trustees. All of Dunleavy’s appointments to the board, except for Rieger, are re-appointments. Their original appointments were made under a previous governor.

Under terms of the APFC, two trustees must be department heads in state government, of which one is revenue commissioner. Four members of the public fill the remaining seats with staggered four-year terms.

Timeline of Rodell's tenure

Rodell’s nine-page letter to the committee includes a timeline of her tenure at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., where she served as CEO from 2015 until her dismissal in December 2021.

She noted in the letter that on Sep. 9, 2021, the board elected Richards as chair and Mahoney as vice chair, responsible for her performance review. “This is the first time in the APFC’s 40-year history a member of the governor’s cabinet has been chosen by the board to serve in a board officer capacity,” she wrote.

Rodell also indicated that she was not warned, nor given any indication, that her job was at risk or that there were problems with her performance.

“At no time over the past six years was I ever given specific quantifiable metrics for performance,” Rodell wrote in the letter to lawmakers. “I have been honest and transparent in my communications to the Board, the Dunleavy and Walker administrations and the Alaska State Legislature.”

Rodell noted that on Dec. 8, 2021, the day before she was terminated, the board met for two hours in executive session. “At no time was I asked to join them,” Rodell said in the letter.

Rodell wrote that the board met again in executive session on Dec. 9, 2021. “After approximately 1.5 hours, I was asked to come into the room and told I was being terminated,” Rodell wrote.

She was offered the opportunity to resign voluntarily, effectively immediately, or to be fired, she said. Rodell was removed from her position.

Valerie Mertz, the APFC’s chief financial officer, has been named interim executive director as the board searches for a permanent replacement.

Dunleavy has expressed confidence in the board of trustees.

He said he learned about Rodell’s termination at the same time the public and press found out. The board posted a message on its website that it is seeking a new director.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 11 a.m., Jan. 15, 2021, with additional information.

Contact Linda F. Hersey at 907-459-7575 or at lhersey@newsminer.com. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.

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