Palin Foe Kim Elton Appointed to Obama Post

Reacting to a CNN report that “Alaska State Sen. Kim Elton, one of the leading officials to pursue an investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin during the heat of the presidential campaign, has taken a high-level job in the Interior Department,” Ace expresses a wee bit of skepticism, arguing, “were one to characterize Elton as a minor party hack of little to no distinction, one would probably not be far off.”

But, surely, given the tens of thousands of highly qualified people applying for jobs in the Obama administration, Elton is a conservationist of world reknown with mad skilz making him uniquely suited to the position?

According to Wikipedia, not so much.

After moving to Alaska in 1961, Elton attended Juneau-Douglas High School from 1962 to 1966. He attended St. Olaf College from 1966 to 1968. After serving in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971 in the Vietnam War and receiving an honorable discharge, Elton returned to college at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1972 to 1974.

Elton began his career as a journalist. He was the editor of the Juneau Empire from 1976 to 1978. He also did work for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and Commercial Fishing.

Okay, so he wrote about fishing and mining thirty-odd years ago. That’s something.

Elton entered politics in the 1980s. He served on the Assembly of the City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska from 1989 to 1994. He was a member of the Alaska House of Representatives from 1995 to 1998. In 1998 he was elected to the state senate.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Presumably, he chaired some important interior-type committees?

  • Member, Senate Finance Committee
    • Chair, Senate Finance Subcommittee on Corrections
    • Chair, Senate Finance Subcommittee on the Court System
    • Chair, Senate Finance Subcommittee on Environmental Conservation
    • Member, Senate Finance Subcommittee on the University of Alaska
  • Member, Senate Council on Domestic Violence Task Force
  • Member, Senate Committee on Health, Education & Social Services
  • Member, Senate Legislative Council
  • Member, Senate Committee on World Trade and State/Federal Relations

There’s actually less at his Senate web page.

I’m beginning to think Ace’s suspicion that Elton’s main qualification was his embarrassing investigation of Sarah Palin has some merit.  Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time a political operative with little preparation for a job was rewarded with a relatively minor administration post.

For her, part, though, Palin is taking the high road:

“Senator Elton pledged his allegiance to President Obama last summer,” said the governor. “We wish him well as he moves on and hope that he uses this job for Alaska’s benefit.”

Heh.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    In Illinois, conservation is the classic place to make political appointments to award people with no substantive experience in the field.

  2. He will be “Director of Alaska Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior,” which is not one of the top 25 positions at Interior as far as I can tell. In USG parlance, it goes:

    Secretary
    Deputy Secretary
    Under-Secretary
    Assistant Secretary
    Deputy Assistant Secretary
    Office Director

    People with the “Director” titles are often drawn from the permanent civil service, sometimes at the GS-15 level, though I think usually at the SES level. Nevertheless, unless Interior is organized much differently than State or DoD (which I am more familiar with), this is not a “high-level” position at all. Indeed, when I went on the Interior Department page of bureaus and offices (http://interior.gov/bureaus.html), this office did not even warrant a link.

    –BF

  3. Bithead says:

    For all that, there seems little doubt of there being some political payback, here.

    And there’s the issue of influence of policy to consider from such ‘lower level’ positions.

  4. being some political payback

    Well, yeah… but my point is this is the kind of position that goes to people who maybe contributed a thousand dollars and did a little volunteering for the campaign — maybe serve a committee that drafted a position paper, or provided edits on a speech.

    Frankly, I’d think a State Senator could do better.

  5. odograph says:

    Gosh, with a resume like that shouldn’t he be VP?

  6. Triumph says:

    There’s actually less at his Senate web page.

    There actually is MORE at his Senate web page. You conveniently omit the fact that he served on a fisheries committee and one on community and regional affairs. He was also head of a trade association on fisheries.

    Because the state’s economy is dependent on natural resource management, by virtue of long service in the Senate he would likely be conversant with the major land/water issues facing the state as it pertains to federal lands.

    Also, as Bernie Mac says, the Director of Alaskan Affairs is not a “high level job in the Interior Department.”

    Given his career as a veteran state and local lawmaker as well as his experience in the state’s natural resource private sector, he would seem exceedingly qualified to act as a liason between the Feds and state government in Alaska.

    J-Dawg, were you also upset when Bush appointed Drue Pearce for the same position in 2001 after she pushed the Alaskan legislature the previous year to award Gail Norton a $60,000 consultancy contract? One of Norton’s first paybacks after she was appointed as DoI was to get Pearce the Alaska affairs job. This was Blago-style pay-to-play at its worst.

  7. Bithead says:

    Frankly, I’d think a State Senator could do better.

    Well, better than they’re telling us about, anyway. He might not have jumped for that position alone, but was there something else to make it more attractive, seems the question.

    It’s my take there’s a missing element, and given the look of payola attached to this thing, it seems likley there’s at least one element we’ve not been told of. One that if it came out, wouldn’t look very good for either Elton, or Obama.

  8. Triumph says:

    It’s my take there’s a missing element, and given the look of payola attached to this thing, it seems likley there’s at least one element we’ve not been told of. One that if it came out, wouldn’t look very good for either Elton, or Obama.

    Dude, there is no evidence of payola. It was out in the open when Bush nominated Pearce and nobody cared at the time.

  9. Bithead says:

    There isn’t?

    My, must be nice to be able to vacation on some other planet.

  10. Floyd says:

    “”has taken a high-level job in the Interior Department,” Ace expresses a wee bit””

    “” was rewarded with a relatively minor administration post.””

    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    WHICH??

  11. Grewgills says:

    There isn’t?

    My, must be nice to be able to vacation on some other planet.

    If there is evidence then why haven’t you produced it?

  12. Bithead says:

    So, the circimstanes listed above don’t give you any reason to question the situation at all, eh?

    Interesting, how that works…

  13. Grewgills says:

    Bit,
    You made the accusation. It’s up to you to back it up. Can you back it up or are you just talking out of your a$$?