Dunleavy administration stands by claim of Permanent Fund growth

Editor’s note: The Cordova Times contacted Dermot Cole and the Dunleavy administration to further clarify the question of Permanent Fund revenue.

Dunleavy administration officials say the numbers cited by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund, numbers cited as financial distortion by investigative journalist Dermot Cole, are backed up by the Permanent Funds own financial statements.

The issue regarding recent statements by the governor about the robustness of the Permanent Fund, Cole said in his column of Dec. 30, is that Dunleavy “overstated the 2020 earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund by $7 billion for self-serving and short-term political purposes, the kind of thinking that will lead to a dissipation of the fund’s assets.”

Cole noted that nearly every newspaper in the state printed Dunleavy’s press release earlier in December containing such misinformation “without blinking.”

These newspapers, including The Cordova Times, did not inform readers that the Permanent Fund did not post gains anywhere near the $11 billion claimed by Dunleavy in 2020, he said.

The governor’s spokesperson, Jeff Turner, responded to questions about those numbers by saying those figures were included in reports from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.

Turner cited March 31 and Nov. 30 financial statements at apfc.org/report-archive.

To Cole that response amounted to “answering the question without answering it.

What Dunleavy said was this, Cole said: “Thankfully, we have the tools to ease the suffering of our fellow Alaskans. Over the past decade, the Permanent Fund has grown by an enormous $39 billion. In fact, the fund’s value has increased by over $11 billion in the past eight months alone.

“I am proposing we utilize just over half of this year’s growth to address the 100-year crisis before us. This will allow for distribution of the remaining portion of the 2020 PFD along with a full PFD in 2021, providing nearly $5,000 in relief to every qualified Alaskan.”

“Dunleavy was wrong,” Cole said. “Turner is wrong. He mentioned ‘this year’s growth’ in the column printed in just about every newspaper. Dunleavy has proposed spending more than $6 billion, which is close to double the actual 2020 growth.”