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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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John Oliver cites Donald Trump’s final offer for Greenland: ‘$200 and I’ll throw in Don Jr.’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's favorite highlight of the week was, of course, President Donald Trump's decision that he wanted to buy Greenland.

In his opener Sunday, the HBO host said that he wasn't all that surprised given Trump's track record.

"Of course, he f*cking did. Of course, he did. Greenland is icy, distant and autonomous is exactly Trump's type," Oliver said, showing a photo of Trump with the first lady.

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Florida teacher removed after bizarre rant about students not standing for the pledge

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Students were faced with a white-board rant in a classroom attacking anyone not standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The moment went viral locally on Thursday after students posted Daniel Goodman‘s “inappropriate” message to students at First Coast High School in Duval County, Florida, The Atlanta Black Star reported.

“THINK: We had about a half million Americans die in our Civil War, which was largely to get rid of slavery. There are no longer separate water fountains and bathrooms in Jacksonville for ‘white’ and ‘colored,’ as Mr. Goodman remembers from the 1960?s. We had an amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing women the right to vote. We have had a Black president. The superintendent of Duval Schools is a Black woman. Mr. Fluent, our principal, replaced a Black man. Mr. Simmons, who now is a DC PS admninistrator.”

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Angry Minnesota farmer bashes ‘insulting’ Trump comments that ‘we’re great patriots’ during his trade war

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President Donald Trump has insulted at least one Minnesota farmer by his claim that farmers are "great patriots" who want him to continue his trade fight against China.

"This wound is self-inflicted, by our president," said Gary Wertish, who is the Minnesota Farm Bureau president. "We definitely agreed with it in the beginning. But it doesn’t appear that there’s a plan B. Some of the callous comments come, especially from the president, you know, that farmers are 'winning,' we’re 'great patriots,' that’s very insulting. That’s coming from someone who never has faced the challenges of a family farmer. I go into the bank and tell the lender I can’t make the payment because we lost our market? The banker is going to tell me you don’t have to make your payment because you’re a patriot."

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