Creating Alaska

Steve McCutcheon

Name: Steve McCutcheon

City: Anchorage

District: 22

Occupation: Photographer

Born: August 30, 1911 - Cordova, Alaska

Death: December 16, 1998 - Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska Resident: Lifelong

Convention Posts:

  • Chairman, Committee on Legislative Branch
  • Member, Committee on Rules

Education: Anchorage Public Schools

Public Offices and Organizations:

  • Deputy US Marshall, Valdez - 1940-41
  • Assistant Commissioner of Labor, Territory of Alaska - 1941-42
  • Territorial House of Representatives - 1947-49
  • Territorial Senate - 1949-53

Quote from the Constitutional Convention:

"I will give the majority Committee thinking with respect to the article the way we have developed it. From time honored fashion, which stems from probably beyond the history of the United States, is that the charges shall arise in an impeachment proceeding in a lower house and be tried in a so called house of aristocrats, or lords, or senators, if you please, the feeling being that the upper house represents the upper crust of society.

In this particular instance, it has been the feeling of the Committee that the charges might arise in the senate because the charges that will be presented by the senate may be leavened by the fact that only half of the senators have been elected at this time. So there could be no irresponsibility of the new house in the event it was a complete turnover of personnel or legislators, and that if the charges had sufficient merit, they should be tried before the new house, which is the house that was last completely responsible to the will of the people.

In other words, if there is merit in the charges presented by the senate, then certainly the new representatives, who are the last ones who have responded in the largest group to the will of the people, the most of the people, if they find the executive has been culpable of the crimes he has been indicted for, then let him be thrown out. If he were tried before the senate on the charges by the house, the charge might be hurled at the house members that they are brand new, they know nothing of the problem, and that in this particular instance they may be operating on a strictly political basis. But on the other hand, with half of the senators at least held over, that certainly will have a leavening effect on the judgment of the senate in bringing the charges, but if those charges can be sustained in a brand new house, which may not have any political alliance but is the last group most completely responsible to the will of the people, then certainly it appears to us, or appeared to the majority of our group, that that was the fairest method of considering an impeachment."

-Delegate Steve McCutcheon, Day 49 of the Constitutional Convention, explaining the reasoning behind adopting an impeachment process for state officials.

From "The Citizens Guide to the Alaska State Constitution" by Gordon Harrison and the Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency:

"Virtually every state constitution grants the legislature the power to remove the governor and other principal elected and appointed officials by means of impeachment. Some constitutions also allow removal of lesser officials for cause by concurrent resolution—a process called joint address or legislative address—but the Alaska constitutional convention delegates rejected this option. Unusual features of Alaska’s impeachment provision are its application to “all civil officers of the state” rather than just the highest elected and appointed officeholders; origination of impeachment in the senate and trial in the house (it is the opposite in the U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions); and omission of a definition of impeachable offenses (compare Article IV, Section 12, which specifies “malfeasance and misfeasance” as impeachable offenses for judges).

Impeachment is rarely used at either the federal or state level. However, in 1985 in Alaska, a grand jury report alleged that Governor William Sheffield attempted to steer a state office lease to a political supporter, and recommended that the legislature initiate impeachment proceedings against him. The legislature convened in special session and began a hearing on impeachment. Since there is no statutory implementation of this constitutional section, it was necessary to deal with such important preliminary questions as what constitutes an impeachable offense; what standard of proof is required; what procedures should be followed by the senate and house; and whether the impeachment was reviewable by the courts. In the end, the senate rules committee, which heard the evidence, did not find sufficient cause for the full senate and house to proceed with the matter."