There are reports that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may be backing off of her nomination of Wayne Anthony Ross for state attorney general Palin’s nominee has long been a controversial and far-right figure. Various groups have come forward with extremist and bizarre statements attributed to Ross, who like to drive around in his Hummer with W.A.R. on this license plates (his initials)
However, it is his comments rather than his plates that have triggered a rare national controversy over the state nomination.
He has been accused of calling homosexuals “degenerates” and allegedly joked about raping wives. He is quoted as telling a father’s rights group” “If a guy can’t rape his wife, who’s he gonna rape?”
One of his greatest critics turns out to be Leah Burton, a lobbyist on children’s issues and domestic violence, who sent a letter to the Alaska State Judiciary Committee quoting the alleged speech. He is also quoted as saying “There wouldn’t be an issue with domestic violence if women would learn to keep their mouths shut.” Ross strenuously denies the statement in this letter. I have not seen a confirmation or denial from the father’s rights group, Dads Against Discrimination.
Ross’ letter below questions whether he has ever spoken to the group. The letter itself is a bit of an odd and raw read.
Burton’s father, Richard Burton (former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner), also demanded that Ross that he withdraw his nomination. He compared Ross’ responses to the allegations as akin to the behavior that he witnesses among abusive husbands. Ross responded that if “anybody said that to me, we’d have a little confrontation because that’s a bunch of crap.”
The Anchorage Daily News reported
“During a fight several years ago over gay rights, [Allison] Mendel helped organize Anchorage lawyers in support of an anti-discrimination ordinance. Ross wrote a nasty letter to the Bar Association newsletter, using words like “immoral”, “perversion” and “degenerates.” The language went way beyond reasonable disagreement, Mendel and others said.”
When asked about whether he stood by his prior statements in a recent legislative hearing about gays and could defend gays, Ross refused to address his “personal feelings” while giving the following response:
“I hate lima beans, I never liked lima beans. But if I was hired to represent the United Vegetable Growers, would you ask me if I liked lima beans? No. Would I tell you if I disliked lima beans? No, because my job is to represent the United Vegetable Growers.”
Of course, this would indicate that he does in fact hate gays.
Alaska has not come across well in this controversy, including a bizarre exchange caught on video of a legislator raising the appearance of Palin “wearing Arctic Cat gears and leathers” with Ross responding “She was provocative. She looked really good didn’t she?” Strangely, Holder’s dress code and hot appearance was entirely skipped during his hearings.
The real question is why Palin would look over the entire state of Alaska and decide that this man is her ideal as the attorney general of the state. Blind loyalty to Palin may be part of that reason — her own Alberto Gonzales. In this video, Palin announced a “new day for Alaska” and says that he has brought “bring years of service in more ways than one.” Perhaps a few too many ways.
For the full story, click here.
Here is Ross’ letter:
Honorable Member of the Twenty-Sixth Alaska State Legislature
Juneau, Alaska 99801
Re: Letter Dated 7 April 2009 Purportedly From One Leah L. Burton
I am in receipt of a letter which purports to be from one Leah L. Burton. The letter is unsigned and I have been advised that it has been circulated to members of the Legislature. When I left my wife, Barbara, in Anchorage she cautioned me that “they are going to say bad things about you”. “They will have to lie!” I responded, in an attempt to allay her fears. We have been happily married for more than forty years and like the tremendous lady she is, Barbara worries about me and doesn’t like people criticizing her husband. (I thank the Lord for her every day.)
Apparently Barbara and I were both right. Not content to discuss my record, someone has now chosen to circulate this unsigned memo which is replete with totally false statements. I would call Ms. Burton a liar but, since the letter is unsigned and therefore may not have actually come from her, I will not do so. Instead, I am sending the response to you and referring to the letter, hereafter, as the “Burton” letter.
I believe I have heard of the Dads Against Discrimination and I have heard of a group known as the Alaska Family Support Group. Since I have practiced law in Anchorage in the private sector for over 35 years, I have given talks to many groups. I may have even spoken to this group although I do not recall having done so. If either group is the one I am thinking of, I had an unusual experience with one of its officers. On one occasion I received a call from a video store located on Lake Otis complaining about my “boorish behavior” to one of the store clerks. After ascertaining where and when this boorish behavior occurred, I advised the caller that I had never even been in his store. Intrigued by the caller’s story, I asked if he had a videotape of the person who claimed to be Wayne Ross. It turned out that he had. I went to the store, viewed the video, and recognized the person who had claimed to the clerk that he was me. The imposter was, if I recall, one of the founders of the above referenced group.
I will leave it to your imagination as to what occurred in the “Come To Jesus” meeting I had with this fellow when I was able to track him down. To my recollection, that was the last time I ever heard of either of these groups. They avoided me and I them, thereafter.
If I recall correctly, the only time I ever addressed this group, if indeed I ever did address them, was at a Denny’s restaurant on either Benson and Denali or on Dimond and the Seward Highway. To my best recollection the only time I have been in the Denny’s on Benson and DeBarr was to attend meetings of the Armed Services YMCA (I served on its Board and later as its Chairman) or to provide legal training for several concealed carry classes given at that location.
I do not believe I know a Steve Strube or a John Grames. I don’t recall ever hearing such names before the Burton letter.
I have never ever stated to anyone “If a guy can’t rape his wife… who’s he gonna rape?”
I don’t talk like that!
I don’t believe in that!
I totally abhor such a thought and I totally reject it!
Indeed, if I ever heard such a comment from anyone, that person would have faced a serious confrontation with me. Rape is a serious crime; it is not something to joke about; it is not something I joke about; and I have no sympathy with anyone who does. Indeed, as AG I intend to pursue rapists with the full power of my office and put them behind bars for as long a time as possible.
Nor have I ever stated “There wouldn’t be an issue with domestic violence if women would learn to keep their mouths shut!”
Such an allegation that I uttered those words is outrageous! Indeed, it is almost as outrageous as the words themselves!
I confess that I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to women. My dad taught me that the greatest honor that a father could show another man was to let that man date his daughter. If a guy was granted that honor, the absolutely worst thing a guy could do was to breach the trust given to him by that father. I still believe that to this day. My wife and I learned about love-making only after we were married and we have been faithful to one another exclusively. She is my partner and I rely upon her completely.
The idea of “disciplining” a wife is outrageous! Wives are not children; they are partners (or at least should be). Any man who speaks to me about “disciplining his wife” deserves not to have one. And again, if I ever heard such a comment from anyone, that person would have faced a serious confrontation with me.
Both Barbara and I have “disciplined” our children. They have all turned out well. We are proud of them and they (all four of them) love their parents totally. Indeed, our children have turned out so well that I joke that they all take after their mother.
With regard to child support, I served as Court Trustee from 1969 to 1973. During my tenure, we developed the computerized system of collecting child support which has expanded into the Child Support Services Division with exists today. I have no patience or sympathy for any parent who fails to properly support his (or her) child.
In my practice of law when involved in divorce work, more often than not I represented the mother/wife. Ninety-five of my cases settled; only five percent went to trial. Divorces are sad situations for both spouses, and also for the attorneys who handle them. I have often said that the only reason I handled such cases is because I could go home at night to my beloved Barbara and realize how wonderful our life together is. I have always felt bad that many others cannot enjoy a marriage such as ours.
As I said above, I am old-fashioned. I take my hat off inside if a lady is present. I try to rise as often as possible when a lady enters the room. I always try to treat women like I would like my wife to be treated. Call me a dinosaur, if you will, but that is how I was raised.
I have had a good time during these conformation proceedings and I have met many interesting people. It matters not to me whether we agree or disagree on issues; what matters is that we can talk with one another and that we don’t become disagreeable with one another.
The Burton letter, however, crosses the line. Now I am a bit angry! Whoever wrote that letter should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. I do not deserve such treatment no matter how much the writer disagrees with me!
And since I am writing, let’s deal with another issue. I am in receipt of a second memo dated 9 April 2009 referencing a lady who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 8 April 2009.
The lady referenced my attendance at a UAA Forum in October 2005. She alleged that she heard me “argue that DV victims are liars”.
I do not recall the date of such forum but I do recall attending such a forum. We were shown a movie about domestic violence. When it became my time to speak, I criticized the movie because it gave the misimpression that only men committed domestic violence on women.
I believed that I had been invited because of my years of experience in the field. I simply pointed out that men too could be victims of domestic violence. I also stated that on occasion people who sought domestic violence protective orders did so because they wanted to use the process “as a sword rather than as a shield”. I said that in my experience I had seen cases in which people lied to get such protective orders and that our domestic violence system was sometimes abused.
Quite obviously the lady who attended the UAA forum heard only what she wanted to hear.
My remarks that day were accurate and based on almost four decades of experience in the field. The lady’s recollection of the event, however, was not accurate.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Wayne Anthony Ross
Sarah Palin, Governor
Mike Nizich, Chief of Staff
Sharon Leighow, Deputy Press Secretary