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Mark Begich: Doing What’s Right for Alaska While Dan Sullivan Stays Silent


The Koch Brothers want Alaskans to think this election is all about President Obama, but Obama will be gone in two years. This election is about Alaska’s future. Mark Begich fought to get Alaska veterans care close to home. He fixed Obamacare so military children under 26 can be covered on their parents’ health insurance. He made sure domestic violence survivors could get new health care subsidies. And, he blew the whistle on the National Guard scandal while Dan Sullivan has stayed silent even though he was Attorney General when the complaints escalated.


Secured Care Closer To Home For Alaska Veterans

Begich Cited Hero’s Health Card As Top Priority Upon Election. In a December 2008 interview with Anchorage Daily News, Begich was asked what his top three goals were. He responded, “An energy plan, which is both national and state. I think the issue, working on the economic recovery, is going to be the topic, so you don’t get the chance of that one. With health care, there are some things that can be done, better access, and also for veterans, we’ve talked about the ‘Hero’s Health Card,’ which gives them access to health care anywhere, anytime. They get reimbursed by the VA so they don’t have to look for a VA hospital. I think services for veterans and active military are going to be very important as a lot of them come back with huge needs in medical services, job retraining and education opportunities.” [Anchorage Daily News, 12/14/08]

Headline: Cordova Times: “Begich introduces bill to allow local care for rural veterans.” [Cordova Times, 6/4/11]

Begich Introduced Legislation To Allow Alaska Veterans In Rural Areas To Access Health Care At Local Health Facilities. Reported the Cordova Times in June 2011, “U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced today he is introducing an act that tries to bridge the gap between veterans in rural Alaska and the health care benefits they earned through service in the military. The Alaska Heroes Card Act of 2011 would allow Alaska veterans to access care from local clinics and other treatment facilities in their home towns. The provider would then be able to receive payment from the VA. ‘Veterans ask me repeatedly, why can’t we get to the clinics and hospitals in our communities rather than travel to Anchorage or even Seattle?’ Begich said. Begich made the announcement speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Alaska 66th Annual Convention in Anchorage. He said during his recent travel to the village of Kwigillingok, he heard from veterans who can’t drive to a VA facility for treatment and one who relayed spending more than $2,000 to travel from the village to Bethel and then to Anchorage to obtain medical care. Begich said will introduce his legislation next week when he returns to Washington.” [Cordova Times, 6/4/11]

Veterans Affairs And Alaska Native Tribal Health Programs Announced Agreement To Allow Rural Alaska Veterans To Receive Health Benefits At Native Health Facilities. Reported KTUU in May 2012, “Alaska’s Senators are welcoming an agreement by the Veterans Administration that allows Rural Alaska veterans to receive health care benefits at Native health clinics. A release from Senator Mark Begich’s office says the VA, 14 Alaska Native Tribal Health Programs and the Department of Veterans Affairs signed an agreement that allows Alaska Native veterans to get care at participating village clinics. The VA will then reimburse the clinics. Before the veterans had to travel to Anchorage or as far away as Seattle for health care. ‘This is truly a great step toward ensuring all of Alaska’s veterans can receive the care they need, when they need it, and in the most cost effective and timely way,’ Begich said.” [KTUU, 5/5/12]

Heroes Health Card Program “A Begich Initiative To Address An Alaska-Unique Issue.” Reported the Military Times in August 2013, “The 2-year-old Heroes Health Card program in Alaska was a Begich initiative to address an Alaska-unique issue: many veterans living in areas inaccessible by road. One example, he recalls, was a veteran living in the village of Kwigillingok who had to spend more than $2,000 to travel to Anchorage to receive medical treatment. ‘Eighty percent of villages in Alaska are not accessible by road,’ Begich said of a state that has about 80,000 veterans, about 14,000 of whom receive compensation for service-connected disabilities.” [Military Times, 8/14/13]

Extended Healthcare Coverage For Veterans’ Families

Headline: Anchorage Daily News: “Begich proposal would extend health care for military dependents up to the age of 26.” [Anchorage Daily News, 4/17/10]

Begich Introduced Legislation To Allow Children Whose Parents Are On Tricare To Remain On Healthcare Plan Until Age 26. Reported the Anchorage Daily News in April 2010, “Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has introduced legislation that would allow children whose parents have Tricare military health care to remain eligible for the coverage up to age 26. The proposal would make military health care coverage more closely mirror the sweeping health care reform bill the president signed into law last month. That law takes effect in September and requires private insurers to extend health care coverage to children up to age 26. Begich’s bill would allow unmarried military and retiree dependents to remain in the Tricare program through the age of 26. Only those who do not have access to employer-sponsored coverage would be eligible. Currently, the Tricare program insures children up to the age of 21, or age 23 if they are full-time college students. ‘This seemed like a logical piece of legislation to do,’ Begich said. ‘As we did it in the general health care bill, why not make sure our military families — both retired and active — have that same benefit?’ He has as his Democratic co-sponsors Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.” [Anchorage Daily News, 4/17/10]

2010 Defense Authorization Included Begich Provision To Extend Tricare Coverage For Dependent Children To Age 26. Reported the Air Force Times in December 2010, “However, the revised bill does have a few new or improved benefits: * Children could be covered by Tricare health insurance up until age 26 - three years longer than allowed under current law - as long as the child is unmarried and does not have an employer-provided health plan available. This would bring Tricare in line with the broader national health care reform initiative.” [Air Force Times, 12/27/10]

Fixed Healthcare Law So Domestic Violence Survivors Have Access To Healthcare Coverage

Headline: Kaiser Health News: “Advocates Press For Insurance Subsidies For Domestic Abuse Victims.” [Kaiser Health News, 3/13/14]

Begich Urged Administration To Adjust Healthcare Regulations To Allow Domestic Violence Victims Filing Separately From Spouses To Receive Insurance Subsidy. Reported Kaiser Health News in March 2014, “Spouses who file their taxes separately, sometimes because of domestic violence or abandonment, often can’t get government subsidies to purchase health insurance — and advocates say the Obama administration hasn’t done enough to help them. With the March 31 sign-up deadline approaching, advocates are urging the administration to give domestic violence victims more time to sign up and to make it easier for them to get tax credits even if they don’t file a joint tax return. . . . Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said he will introduce legislation if the IRS doesn’t act on its own. In January, Begich wrote top administration officials urging them to ‘swiftly implement policies allowing victims of domestic abuse to access the level of tax credits they deserve.’” [Kaiser Health News, 3/13/14]

Department Of Treasury Announced It Would Allow Domestic Violence Survivors To Apply For Healthcare Credit Separately. “Accordingly, today the Treasury Department and the IRS are releasing guidance providing that a married individual who is living apart from his or her spouse, and who is unable to file a joint return as a result of domestic abuse, will be permitted to claim a premium tax credit for 2014 while filing a tax return with a filing status of married filing separately.” [Department of Treasury, 3/26/14]

Blew The Whistle On Sexual Assault & Misconduct In Alaska National Guard

March 2012: Begich Wrote A Letter To Chief Of National Guard Bureau Requesting An Investigation Of Alaska National Guard Misconduct, Including Sexual Assaults. In May 2014 article on Alaska National Guard sexual misconduct, Anchorage Daily News reported, “Sen. Mark Begich in 2012 pushed for an investigation of the Alaska National Guard after hearing reports from multiple people about sexual assaults, abuse of power, a hostile work environment, drugs, fraud, waste and abuse, according to a letter from the time. ‘The seriousness of the issues raised — coupled with recent command climate surveys — indicates the morale, discipline, ethos and integrity of the (Guard) as an organization are in jeopardy,’ Begich wrote in March 2012 to Gen. Craig McKinley, then chief of the National Guard Bureau.” [Anchorage Daily News, 5/20/14]

KSRM: “[Begich] Has Been Vocal In His Concern About Sexual Assault And Sexual Harassment In The Military.” Reported KSRM in July 2013, “Begich also was successful in requesting additional positions to address sexual assault in the Armed Forces. The state’s junior senator has been vocal in his concern about sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military and has been a consistent supporter of legislation to prevent sexual assault and to help victims of sexual assault.” [KSRM, 7/17/13]

Begich And Sen. Lisa Murkowski Voted For Legislation Giving Military Sexual Assault Victims Way To Report Cases Outside Their Chain Of Command. Wrote the editorial board of the Fairbanks News-Miner in March 2014, “The U.S. Senate is considering bipartisan legislation by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to give victims of sexual assault assurance that their reports would be handled by officials outside of their chain of command. […] Sen. Gillibrand’s bill, known as the Military Justice Improvement Act, suffered a setback in the Senate earlier this month when it fell five votes short of the 60 necessary to break a filibuster. The 55 senators who voted to advance the legislation to a final vote included 44 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Alaska’s senators — Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich — were among the 55 voting in favor of advancing the bill.” [Editorial, Fairbanks News-Miner, 3/25/14]

  • Fairbanks News-Miner Editorial: Murkowski Also Voiced “Strong Support” For Military Sexual Assault Bill On Senate Floor. Wrote the editorial board of the Fairbanks News-Miner in March 2014, “Sen. Murkowski, in speaking on the Senate floor in advance of that vote, offered strong support for the measure and spoke of the severity of the problem and urgent necessity of doing something about it. ‘… when we face these very troubling and difficult issues of military sexual assault, it is an underside of the military culture that we have not been able to sufficiently address and eradicate. ‘They have been victimized once, and now they do not believe that anything will happen if they speak. They do not believe that anything will be done with their report.’” [Editorial, Fairbanks News-Miner, 3/25/14]

Begich Introduced Bill To Allow Pentagon Guard Bureau To Initiate Investigations Into Wrongdoing In State National Guards. “Begich, a Democrat, filed his measure as a stand-alone bill. It would clarify the authority of the chief of the Defense Department’s National Guard Bureau to initiate investigations in a state even when the governor or adjutant general won’t, or when state and federal law are in conflict. It directs final reports of the Office of Complex Investigations to be released in the same manner as Inspector General reports from the military branches or the Defense Department, which generally are made public though are heavily redacted.” [Alaska Dispatch News, 9/18/14]

A Month After National Guard Bureau Issued “Scathing” Report On Guard Scandal, Sullivan has Said Nothing

Headline: Associated Press: “Report Finds Lack Of Trust In Alaska Guard Command.” [Associated Press, 9/5/14]

Headline: Los Angeles Times: “Scathing Report On Alaska National Guard Forces Out Commander.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/5/14]

Office Of Complex Investigations: Since 2009, Alaska Guard Mishandled Sexual Assault Cases & Fostered Hostile Work Environment That Cultivated A Culture Of Mistrust. “On September 3rd, the National Guard’s Office of Complex Investigations released a report detailing how the Alaska National Guard handles rape and sexual abuse. It found that since 2009, there were 29 reported sexual assault cases, and in 2012, over 200 incidents of discrimination and sexual harassment. The report also found that the Alaska National Guard fostered a hostile work environment that cultivated mistrust of command. In surveys distributed to guard members, the report found that victims lacked confidence in command’s ability to effectively prosecute heir cases, either because they feared reprisal from their superiors, believed their concerns would not be taken seriously, or worried their testimony would not remain confidential.” [KDLG, 9/5/14]

National Guard Report Found Fraudulent Activity, Including Embezzlement From Family Programs And Misuse Of Government Equipment For Personal Gain. “A top Alaska National Guard officer has resigned after a military report on a series of sexual assaults in the Alaska National Guard, which Gov. Sean Parnell released Thursday afternoon. […] The report also found evidence of unrelated fraudulent activity, including “embezzlement of money from a (Guard) family programs account and misuse of government equipment for personal gain.” The report says Parnell requested a separate investigation into those matters on Aug. 27.” [KTUU, 9/4/14]

National Guard Bureau Refers Questionable Conduct Of Officers To The Attorney General. “The National Guard Bureau has sent a team of specialists to Alaska help implement its recommended reforms and has a separate investigative team further looking into allegation of fraud, uncovered during the first investigation. It’s unclear who is now investigating Katkus. The National Guard Bureau has said it does not investigate general officers and refers questionable conduct it uncovers to the appropriate attorney general for further investigation.” [Alaska Dispatch News, 10/2/14]

National Guard Complaints Began In October 2010 While Sullivan Served As Attorney General. “The record shows the first contact was Oct. 14, 2010, when Rick Koch, a lieutenant colonel and the state-command chaplain for the guard, asked a neighbor who knew Parnell for help in getting word to the governor. Koch gave the neighbor a written outline, including an assertion that the ‘culture of fear and corruption are smothering morale in our organization’ — a claim that would surface again in findings years later in the Sept. 4 National Guard Bureau report. . . . On Nov. 18, 2010, Koch and two other chaplains, Ted McGovern and Matt Friese, got a 7:30 a.m. telephone appointment with the governor. . . . On Dec. 3, 2010, the three chaplains were back on the phone with Parnell from Anchorage Grace Church again, this time with three other officers: Col. Robert Doehl of the Air Guard and two lieutenant colonels who were unnamed in the documents.” [Alaska Dispatch News, 10/1/14; AK DNR – Sullivan Biography, accessed 10/13/14]