Craig Campbell: ‘Beyond the Pale’

Alaska’s former curmudgeonly Lt. Governor has been a player in Alaskan politics since the 1980s. Supposing circulating rumors pan out to be accurate — Campbell, recently named to David Bronson’s transition team last month, will wield significant influence over Anchorage’s direction if indeed tapped by Mayor-Elect Bronson to serve as his Chief of Staff.

Generally speaking, Anchorage proper hasn’t exactly been a fan of Campbell, who first ran for Anchorage mayor in 1984. In a field of seven candidates, Campbell placed third in the race capturing just 199 votes out of 65,915 ballots cast. Fourteen candidates ran for Anchorage mayor in 1994, Campbell’s name among them. Campbell was rejected by voters again that year, placing third in the mayoral race for a second time.

Scandalous

When Sarah Palin exploded onto the national scene, having been chosen as John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election, McCain’s campaign began touting her foreign and domestic experience as commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard. Palin had little to do with the National Guard, though. The narrative was undercut severely in comments made by the actual commander of the Alaska National Guard — Major General Craig Campbell.

Campbell had affirmed to the press that neither he nor Palin played any role in national defense activities. Public criticism began to swell against Palin because of Campbell’s comments, and a few days later, he appeared on Fox News abruptly praising Palin, criticizing the press, and stated that “National Guards are state military forces run by governors, and Sarah Palin does it great.”

In an amazing coincidence, three days after Campbell’s glowing statements about Palin, the then Governor promoted him with his third star to the rank of Lieutenant-General.

In April 2014, Shannyn Moore broke the story that in 2010, Col. Robert Doehl, a former vice commander of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th wing, had documented allegations about the Alaska National Guard and shared them in a 7 page letter to then-Governor Parnell.

The allegations made by Col. Doehl included abuse of authority and safety shortcuts resulting in loss of life and aircraft, cover-ups, cronyism, and retaliation against whistleblowers within the Alaska National Guard. “Col. Doehl named names,” Moore wrote, with Doehl specifically accusing Craig Campbell and then-Maj. Gen. Katkus of ignoring and supporting the alleged misconduct.

Col. Doehl’s letter to Governor Parnell, December 3, 2010

Campbell stepped away from politics and became the president and chief executive officer for Alaska Aerospace Corporation in 2012. Reportedly, Campbell made $225,000 a year in his ‘safe space’ role.

Impeccable Timing

Fade to the fall of 2020, when Campbell curiously began writing opinion pieces for far-right blogs, specifically the Wasilla-based Alaska Watchman and Must Read Alaska, just in time for the Anchorage mayoral election. His writing roughly coincided with his joining of Alaskans for Open Meetings (AFOM) as a board member last November.

AFOM, if you didn’t know, filed a lawsuit last year that, if successful, would ‘pause’ controversial legislation passed by the Anchorage Assembly, including the purchase of buildings intended to be used for homeless services and addiction treatment.

Campbell’s toxic and divisive opinion on the state of Anchorage politics has been that members of the Anchorage Assembly are pushing a radical socialist agenda. Campbell once encouraged his radical-right following to “vote in this run-off election to save our city from permanent destruction at the hands of the progressive Left,” while also referring to the Assembly as “hostile,” in a Must Read Alaska piece written in April of this year.

Campbell has a special place in his heart for Anchorage Assemblyman Felix Rivera, having once referred to him as “the leader of the socialist cabal” and as “Czar Felix.”

In what may have been a moment of projection, Campbell asked whether Must Read Alaska readers should “elect Dave Bronson, who will tackle the homeless and vagrancy problem with treatment and compassion, or do we elect Dunbar who will continue enabling and warehousing these people?”

The inescapable irony in Campbell’s statement is that the incoming Bronson administration is seeking to ‘warehouse’ up to 1,000 of our homeless neighbors in a proposed mass-shelter project progressives are already calling, ‘Bronsonville.’

Beyond The Pale

But perhaps the most chilling and vile statement to come from Campbell was his near-slanderous hit piece on Forrest Dunbar, who is a commissioned officer in the Alaska National Guard where he serves as captain. Dunbar, it should be noted, helped to write the Alaska Code of Military Justice.

In Campbell’s putrified Must Read Alaska post titled “Craig Campbell’s open letter to Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin concerning Forrest Dunbar,” Campbell publicly called for the removal of Dunbar from the National Guard when he wrote:

“In the Alaska National Guard we have an officer in who, in his civilian capacity as an elected official on the Anchorage Assembly, has stated his opinion that about Constitution, and I quote: “…every portion of our constitutional law is with race… All of it was tied to race.”

Wailing on Dunbar, Campbell asserted “Forrest Dunbar, a JAG officer in the Alaska National Guard, a local elected official, and a candidate for Mayor made that quote clarifying his belief that the Constitution is race based, of which it is not. These publicly stated words of Forrest Dunbar place into question his commitment too, and support of, his Oath of Office.”

Campbell finished his assault on Dunbar by whipping his readers into a frenzy writing:

I submit to you that Forrest Dunbar’s public statements create a conflict with his Oath of Office and therefore he should be removed from military service.

Craig campbell, must read alaska, february 17, 2021

I reached out to Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar and asked him for his thoughts about Campbell’s piece calling for his removal from military service. Dunbar responded with a statement:

“Craig Campbell is one of the most hyper-partisan and dishonest people in Alaska politics. Even in the tough world of politics, some things are beyond the pale, and denigrating someone’s military service and attempting to have someone removed from the National Guard based on lies is one of those actions. I have repeatedly and publicly condemned the violence at protests and made clear that the Constitution I proudly swore an oath to is the one containing the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, where the 3/5th compromise and the Fugitive Slave Clause are dead-letter.

But even without those clarifying remarks in other places, it’s clear that the claims Campbell and his boss at Must Read Alaska made are literally different from what I said. Campbell lied about my statements, and he knew he was lying when he did so. He went even further in casting aspersions on Major General Laurie Hummel, the highest-ranking woman in Alaska’s history. He cares about military service and veterans only insofar as it aligns with his own far-right ideology, and he is categorically unfit for any office.

If Dave Bronson appoints him, it will be an indication that this incoming Administration is not interested in working with the Assembly, with moderates or those seeking real solutions for our community, or with anyone who does not hold Campbell’s toxic views.”

That sounds like an end to me.

*Note: On June 16, 2021, Anchorage Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar wrote on Twitter that Craig Campbell attempted to contact the Secretary of Defense to remove him from the National Guard. Dunbar writes that the Guard has received many calls repeating the claims made by Campbell and other Must Read Alaska readers.