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Alaska Gov. Bill Walker forced to return $3,500 sealskin vest as part of ethics probe against mayor

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Alaska’s governor and lieutenant governor will return sealskin vests received as gifts, the governor’s office said on Monday, amid an ethics investigation by a municipal government into possible misuse of taxpayer funds by its mayor.

The probe was ordered earlier this month by the North Slope Borough Assembly. The vests were bought for about $3,500 each from a daughter of the mayor of the borough, which occupies the northernmost part of the state.

Mayor Charlotte Brower’s office paid about $7,000 to one of Brower’s daughters for the vests in February, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

The newspaper reported that Brower has said her office sanctioned payments to family members under a policy that allowed for purchases of goods or services for less than $10,000 without a bidding process. Brower has since changed the policy.

A spokeswoman for the North Slope Borough did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The investigation is focused on whether taxpayer funds were used to buy the vests, made from the skins of bearded seals, from Brower’s daughter, and whether these and other expenditures totaling tens of thousands of dollars improperly benefited the mayor’s family.

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Last week, state media cited documents from a public records request in reporting that the borough paid $8,400 for flights and fees enabling Brower’s five grandchildren to attend a five-day “Michael Jordan Flight School”.

Residents of the borough’s largest community, Barrow, had also raised concerns about the expenses, according to a memo from a special assembly meeting two weeks ago.

A spokeswoman for Governor Bill Walker said his staff is collecting the vests and would return them. Walker was given one and his second-in-command, Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, was given the other, Walker’s office said.

“These gifts are being returned to ensure that the public’s trust is being upheld,” Walker spokeswoman Katie Marquette said.

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The North Slope Borough is the state’s largest and is home to several of Alaska’s major oil fields. Though larger than Minnesota, it has only about 9,700 residents.

(Reporting by Steve Quinn in Juneau, Alaska; Editing by Eric M. Johnson, Eric Walsh and Ken Wills)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Lindsey Graham shoves Trump toward war: ‘Anyone would believe we’re one step closer’

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President Donald Trump seemed to try and deescalate the situation between Iran and the U.S. in wake of the former shooting down an American drone. But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seems to be shoving the president toward war.

"I think anybody would believe that we’re one step closer" [to war], Graham told the press in the hallways of Congress Thursday. "They shot down an American asset, well within international waters -- trying to assess the situation. What are you supposed to do?"

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Fireworks erupt at latest Mueller hearing as chairman Jerry Nadler schools GOP’s Jim Jordan

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A feisty Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) schooled Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for blatantly misstating facts about the investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.

After Jordan went on a lengthy diatribe against the FBI for supposedly relying on the Steele dossier to launch an investigation against the Trump campaign, Nadler jumped in to formally correct the record.

"It is well established that the investigation was not predicated on the Steele dossier, but rather on the observation of..." Nadler began.

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Trump emphatically explains that unmanned drones don’t have people in them as he rambles about Iran’s big ‘mistake’

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During a joint press availability with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump opened up about the drone that was shot down by Iran.

According to Trump, drones are unmanned, a fact he felt was important to convey to those who haven't seen a Jason Bourne film or a spy thriller.

"Iran made a big mistake," Trump said. "This drone was in international waters clearly. We have it all documented. It’s documented scientifically, not just words. They made a big mistake."

He also said that he doesn't believe the decision to shoot the drone down likely came from the Iranian government in Tehran.

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