Amanda Price, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, center, is surrounded by Department of Public Safety officials during a press conference on her confirmation to the position at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Amanda Price, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, center, is surrounded by Department of Public Safety officials during a press conference on her confirmation to the position at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

On eve of vote, public safety commissioner pick tries to win over lawmakers

Legislature voting Wednesday on governor’s appointees

On the eve of her confirmation vote, Amanda Price spoke to media members and legislators to try and clear up what she called “distorted” details of her personal and professional past.

Price, who is Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s selection for the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, has had a particularly contentious confirmation process. Legislators questioned her for the third time Tuesday, probing about her qualifications, her interview process and her departure from the previous administration.

Price, a former advisor to former Gov. Bill Walker, said she was asked to resign from that position by former Chief of Staff Scott Kendall. She said she inferred that her forced resignation was at least in part because she expressed concerns about criminal justice reform legislation Senate Bill 91.

During a confirmation hearing last week, Kendall testified that Price was habitually absent from work during their two years working together. Former Deputy Chief of Staff Marcia Davis testified that Price was a hard worker whose work wasn’t necessarily at a desk.

[There could be a new, quick way to send PFD money to government coffers]

At 1 p.m. Wednesday, a joint session of the Alaska House and Senate will meet to vote on whether to confirm the governor’s appointees.

Speaking to media members Tuesday, Price said she wanted to clear the air a bit after last week’s hearing.

“There have been a great number of concerns surrounding ability to pass background checks, surrounding work ethic, surrounding education,” Price said. “They have been relayed and have gotten incredibly distorted and a lot of that conversation has distracted from the very important decision and work underway in the department to protect Alaskans.”

Price, surrounded by other DPS officials, called herself an “unconventional pick” for the position because she has not served in any law enforcement agency. She said other DPS officials were also skeptical of her when she first was appointed.

Those officials, including Alaska State Troopers leaders, fire safety leaders and a Public Safety Employees Association representative, roundly said Price has won them over since taking over in December.

DPS Deputy Commissioner Michael Duxbury was particularly vocal and passionate, accusing some naysayers of Price’s as “misogynistic” and that a man in her position might not be getting similar criticism.

The House State Affairs Committee posed questions to Price for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon. They pointed out that she took a different background check than Troopers have to take, which Duxbury said is standard for political appointees. They asked about her previous experience and her departure from the Walker administration as well.

During the press conference and the confirmation hearing, Price admitted that she could have been clearer during the confirmation process and on her resume.

For example, she put on her resume that she attended the University of Alaska Anchorage for three years — which is true. She didn’t put on there that she got a degree — which she did not. But looking at the resume, one might assume that because she listed her education on there, she got the degree. When it was discovered that she did not have a degree, it appeared to some that Price had misrepresented herself on the resume.

Dunleavy has been dogged in trying to get Price confirmed, as the administration has even sponsored Facebook advertisements supporting Price.

“The governor has shared his support for Commissioner Price and looks forward to getting her into the department, continuing on the good work they’re already doing,” Shuckerow said at the press conference.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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