Alaska AFL-CIO Executive Director Vincent Beltrami announced his organization’s endorsement of Democratic candidate Mark Begich for governor on Monday at office headquarters in midtown.
Beltrami also addressed allegations made by former Alaska Republican Party Communications Director and editor and publisher of 'Must Read Alaska' Suzanne Downing that he was going to be the deliverer of an ‘October Surprise’ smear campaign surrounding Republican nominee for governor Mike Dunleavy.
“What I will say about that issue, since my name was brought up, on the record I guess in blogs and in the Anchorage Press as well, is that I don’t care one iota about what Mike Dunleavy’s proclivities are one way or another,” Beltrami said to a group of about a dozen media members, backed by more than 20 union members holding Mark Begich campaign signs. “But what is more of a concern to me, and I would think to anyone who is a registered Republican are the actions of Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock.”
Beltrami went on to claim that he had personal knowledge of Babcock hiring a private investigator to ‘interrogate’ multiple private citizens about their knowledge relating to the ‘Prometheus’ rumors, first made public by Jeff Landfield of the political blog Alaska Landmine last Friday.
“I do know that Tuckerman Babcock — because I witnessed this — hired a private investigator to interrogate a private citizen about what that citizen may or may not have known related to this rumor,” Beltrami said. “I witnessed this happen. I believe that got back to Tuckerman and that is why he’s launched on me as being the one who was going to break some kind of story."
Beltrami said he ‘cannot confirm or deny’ the validity of the rumors, but believes the accounts from people he’s spoken to who claim to have knowledge about the rumors.
“(Republican party leadership’s) actions on this kind of reminds me of the oft-repeated line from Hamlet — ‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much,’” Beltrami said. “What is Tuckerman Babcock hiding? Why is he interrogating private citizens to try to get to the bottom of this rumor if there’s nothing to it?”
Beltrami would not divulge the identity of either of the two people he said have been contacted by a private investigator.
“Obviously we do battle all the time in the political cycle. I seem to be someone with whom the party structure is obsessed with… so they always assume I’m going to come out with something,” Beltrami said. “Because of that reputation I believe I’ve had a number of sources who have more information about any alleged incident have come forward and laid out a story — none of it, to my knowledge, can be confirmed or denied, that I know of, at this point… What I can tell you about 2 of the private citizens is that I trust the veracity of what they’ve told me. These are honorable individuals, and I‘m not able to expose either of them on the record, because they told me things in confidence. Unless there is further corroboration, they did not want to be ID’d.”
On Friday, Downing posted the following on 'Must Read Alaska,' joking about the rumors and warning Beltrami about coming forth with any statements on the rumors:
“Vince Beltrami, (Greek code name: "Pornstachius Smearlaunchius"), is behind the crazy smear campaign coming at Mike Dunleavy next week. He started rumors in January, fed them throughout the year, and now will launch the kill hit. This is Chicago-style AFL-CIO stuff. But Must Read Alaska is loaded for bear on this one. Bring it, Pornstachius,” Downing wrote.
We are still awaiting responses from Babcock as well as the Dunleavy campaign.