Beware of Outdoorsman Charlatans: It’s Election Season

Beware of Outdoorsman Charlatans: It’s Election Season

By Carl Nelson

It’s quite interesting what surfaces during election season. The microcosm of rhetoric and chest-pounding, cheap shots and personal attacks. In concert, it’s almost comical. Yet, when it comes to the direction Alaska will be headed on a national and international level, and considering our current federal representation, I fear that comedy is the last thing Alaskans need.

I’m a lifelong hunter and fisherman. My father was a Scout Master in East Anchorage growing up. I learned like many Scouts did, about fishing and hunting, and about honor and telling the truth.

As the August 19th Primary Election gets closer in voters’ sights, I hope Alaskans who value transparency, particularly when it comes to hunting and fishing recreation, will consider all of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate closely. Specifically, Dan Sullivan should be scrutinized beyond fancy radio and T.V. advertising and out-of-state PAC messaging.

Label me overboard, but I follow campaigns. Granted, I’m not political, don’t work in government, nor have I ran for office or worked for a politician. I follow what candidates say and do because it’s important to me both as an informed voter and to measure integrity.

Early on, the Democrats began running with the narrative that Dan Sullivan is not Alaskan. From owning a house in Maryland to having a non-resident fishing license in 2009, they’ve done a fairly good job keeping that message alive. Sullivan constantly refutes the claim by saying that he moved to our state in 1997, which is the first time he fished at his wife’s fish-camp on the Yukon River. His time fishing there appears true and is substantiated by his photos.



While the Democrats have asserted that Sullivan had a non-resident fishing license in 2009, it would be easy for Team Sullivan to refute their claims by showing his fishing license from 1997 when he was at his wife’s fish camp on the Yukon.

As an informed voter, and a guy who loves and thrives in the great outdoors, I don’t hang my hat on one claim or another in political posturing, but I do take offense to posers. Sullivan once spoke on a local radio talk show in Anchorage about the fact his opponents (Miller and Treadwell) wouldn’t know the dangerous end of rifle. This is a ridiculous kidney punch to men like Joe Miller, who owns and has hunted with multiple firearms all of his life, and to Mead Treadwell. When Treadwell and I spoke at Alaska Outdoor Council, NRA and Safari Club International events over the years, I certainly didn’t see Dan Sullivan in the room but for recently because of his candidacy.

Regarding Sullivan and fishing, the logical reaction to a questionable licensure claim would be to call the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and verify who was licensed when…since tags and licenses are public information. However, if you did that, you would find that Dan Sullivan never purchased a fishing license until 2009.

When Dan was fishing at his wife’s fish camp “every summer since 1997,” it appears to have been done with no fishing license. While the statute of limitations regarding the law has probably expired, that doesn’t mean accountability isn’t in play. Dan Sullivan, a Yale Law School graduate like President Bill Clinton, has no excuse to claim ignorance on the law.

Fishing regulations and boasting of being a “guy’s guy” and outdoorsman is disingenuous if you really are not, and you don’t even comply with the fishing regulations that govern anglers’ actions.

Dig a little deeper, and listen to the likes of the Alaska Democratic Party, Joe Miller, and Mead Treadwell, and the hornets’ nest buzzes a bit more. Dan Sullivan’s fishing license history is sketchy:


    • In 2009, Dan Sullivan received a Non-Resident Fishing License.


    • In 2011, Dan Sullivan claimed he had been a resident for 1 year, 9 months (indicating arrival 4/09).


    • In 2013, three months before he declared his candidacy, he claimed he had been a resident for 10 years.


  • Even if Dan had been in Alaska from 1997-2002 (a little over 4 years), and then again from late 2009-2013 (4 years) – he hadn’t been an Alaskan resident for 10 years.

A friend of mine recently contacted the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to determine if there might be a problem with Sullivan’s disclosure discrepancies. He asked a staff member to review the licensing history juxtaposed to his residency and intermittent times in Alaska. The staff member noted that the discrepancies are a problem and people are fined for such routinely. But not Dan Sullivan.

What excuse does the former Attorney General have for violating fishing regulations? Sullivan has responded that he was only completing the applications based on Fish & Game staff guidance. This time, Rep. Mark Neuman may not be able to cover for Mr. Sullivan, and it’s easy to blame staff but typically that doesn’t work for the common folk like you and me (e.g. try turning your PDF application in late or erroneously and blame staff).

With a five-minute phone call to F&G, it can be shown that Dan Sullivan has broken two regulations/laws and has shirked accountability.

Do you really think Senator Begich isn’t ready and eager, champing at the bit to pounce on Sullivan’s inconsistencies? If you think the Primary is a battle, just wait until the General Election and WWIII of Democrat vs. Republican carnage.

Disappointingly, this year’s Primary looks like 2010 all over again, and if something isn’t done now, Mark Begich has the ability to put a Republican hopeful in handcuffs (or at least publicly castigate and shame him).

Remember the lessons learned four years ago: Base your vote on proven leadership and consistent statesmanship; Don’t trust the rhetoric: Don’t invest your vote in an unvetted, unknown candidate with alarming out-of-state ties.

The Republican Party got lucky when they went against Scott McAdams (“Scott who”? you ask. The big guy from Sitka), but this isn’t a candidate as lack-luster as McAdams. The GOP’s choice will be challenging Mark Begich, who is arguably the best and most skillful campaigner the Democrats have ever groomed in Alaska. We saw what he was willing to do to our beloved Senator Ted Stevens in 2008. Do you not think Begich is willing to do that again, especially against Dan Sullivan?

For me, it’s about walking the walk. If a candidate says he loves to hunt and fish, then I hope he really does and is not claiming such hobbies to curry my vote. As for following the law, I do – and you do, when it comes to fishing and hunting. You’d expect someone running for U.S. Senate would comply the same way. If not, then it’s time for voters to reflect on their own values and lack thereof of some politicians who would do anything to represent them.

A charlatan is defined as a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill, or plain and simple: a fraud. If Dan Sullivan’s unsupported outdoorsman bravado and self-aggrandizement are based on improper fishing licensing, that doesn’t bode well for the Republicans against Mark Begich.

Perhaps it’s time to cut the fishing line on Dan Sullivan.



Carl Nelson is a U.S. Army veteran. He has lived in Alaska since 1972. Carl is an avid fisherman and hunter, and is a lifetime member of the NRA and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, as well as a member of the Alaska Outdoor Council and Safari Club International.




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