Margaret Stock and the Alaska Independent Challenge to Senator Lisa Murkowski

She taught at West Point.

She’s a Harvard Law School graduate.

She’s a winner of the MacArthur Foundation award for her work on immigration.

She’s Alaska’s premier immigration attorney.

And she’s running as an independent for U.S. Senate from Alaska.

Her name is Margaret Stock.

And she’s Alaska’s best hope to unseat the increasingly unpopular reign of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Stock grew up as a New England Republican — think Rockefeller, Eisenhower and Edward Brooke — the former Senator from her home state of Massachusetts.

She was a lifelong Republican until she switched to be an independent earlier this year to run for the Senate.

More than half of registered Alaskans are independents — with about a quarter registered as Republican and 15 percent registered as Democrats.

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Stock became an immigration attorney.

“I found immigration law was fascinating,” Stock told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “It’s fascinating because the U.S. government has all the power. And the rules are arcane and convoluted. It’s difficult to comply with them. And the culture of the agency is to drive their statistics up on how many people they are deporting. They just go after people. The average person would look at the case and say — that person hardly did anything. Why are you trying to deport them?”

“I was just so outraged by this. It said something about the government just beating up on people.”

“Instead of following the traditional career path of being a white collar litigation attorney at some law firm, I became the foremost immigration attorney in Alaska. I’m not making a ton of money. I am underpaid compared to other lawyers. But I’m having a heck of a good time.”

“You don’t make money being an immigration lawyer. You do it because you love it. Most of your clients don’t have any money. A case I just handled — I sued the government because the government wouldn’t make my client a citizen. They were spending thousands of dollars to deny a guy citizenship, even though he wasn’t a criminal.

As soon as I sued them, they turned around and made him a citizen. And they had to pay me $13,000 in legal fees.”

“I have had a lot of cases like that over the years — where some poor person is being treated badly by the government and suing the government gets them to behave. So that’s what I do. “

In the summer of 2001, Stock was scheduled to take a sabbatical to teach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“I was supposed to teach Constitutional law, national security law and military law. I was teaching at West Point on September 11, 2001 when the planes hit the World Trade Center. I was in the classroom teaching Constitutional and Military Law.”

“On September 11, I was the only lawyer in the country who knew both immigration law and national security law. They are two distinct fields. It’s rare for anyone in the military to know anything about immigration law. People in the military don’t know both.”

“On that day, my life completely changed. Everyone was calling me. I ended up doing a lot of policy papers, testifying in front of Congress, talking with people. My sabbatical vanished. I spent the next nine years working for the Pentagon on immigration and national security issues. I was continuously fighting against this idea that we needed to shut down our borders and become xenophobic and don’t let anybody in.”

“That was the emotional reaction everyone had to 9/11. Foreigners attacked us. Shut down the border, keep all of the foreigners out. And I kept explaining that America became such a great country because we had a relatively generous immigration policy. The right approach to security was to let the right people in. It wasn’t to keep everybody out.”

“If we want to enhance our security, we had to let the right people in who were going to help us with our security.”

“People didn’t realize it but we probably could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if we had enough people who spoke foreign languages working in the intelligence community. They had intercepts that told of the hijackers’ plans, but nobody had translated them. One of the reasons they hadn’t translated them was the intelligence community didn’t have the language skills over the years. It was because of a dysfunctional immigration system. In prior wars, the U.S. Army had many immigrants in the ranks. In World War I, twenty percent of the Army was made up of immigrants. In World War II, there were plenty of German speaking people in the United States. They were drafted, turned into citizens and served in the U.S. military. That gave the military German language capabilities. During the Korean War, they recruited immigrants. During the Vietnam War, they drafted immigrants.”

“At the end of the Vietnam War, the defense establishment came up with a rule that you can’t get into the military unless you have a green card.”

“That had never been the rule in the military before. They used to take anybody who was able bodied in the country. After September 11, they were only taking people who had green cards. And the legal immigration system was broken. You couldn’t get a green card anymore.”

“From 2001, to 2010, I worked on immigration policy for the military. In 2010, I hit my statutory retirement date. I transferred to the retired reserve and went back to Alaska. I then went back to working immigration cases. My firm today is called Cascadia Cross Border Law Group.”

You are running against Senator Lisa Murkowski (R), Ray Metcalfe (D) and another independent Breck Craig. What made you decide you wanted to run for Senate?

“I was a Republican most of my adult life,” Stock says. “I had become disillusioned with the partisanship in Washington and the special interests, big corporations and the powerful elites in both parties. People don’t trust Washington because it doesn’t work for them.”

“Senator Murkowski is an archetypical example. She ran six years ago alleging that she was going to become moderate. She ran as a write in candidate. Joe Miller, a right wing Republican, won the nomination. And she ran and won as a write in. It was clear that Miller was going to be the next Senator. The Democrat was not going to beat him.”

“A coalition of people went to Murkowski to urge her to run by write in. Fewer than 300,000 people vote in the Presidential election years. You can win an election as a write in. If you spend enough money you can reach people. That was six years ago. It was pretty close, but she won.”

“Her father vacated the Senate seat to become Governor and he appointed his daughter to be Senator in 2002. People here were upset with that at the time. But in 2010, they thought she was better than Joe Miller.”

“Six years ago she made a lot of promises to people that she would become a moderate. As soon as she got into office, she broke all of those promises.”

“I was at the state fair yesterday in Palmer, Alaska — people came up to me and said — she gave up the same voting record as Joe Miller. That’s not what they wanted. They wanted her to go to the center.”

What about the Democrat Ray Metcalfe?

“He’s apparently not supported by the Democratic Party of Alaska. He did win the primary. He’s a former Republican who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat. He entered the primary at the last minute. Ray wasn’t campaigning statewide, but he has tremendous name recognition. He won the primary. The Democratic Party is not apparently supporting him. They do not think he’s a viable candidate and they don’t like the way he conducts himself.”

Metcalfe seems to be standing with Bernie Sanders. Is the Democratic Party going to support you?

“Yes. They have now officially given me access to their coordinated campaign even though I’m not a Democrat.”

“The Murkowski campaign thinks I’m the key opposition. They have been attacking me through the Republican Party. They wasted no energy attacking Ray Metcalfe. They are trying to attack me. Their strategy is to put the word out that I’m not really an independent — I’m a Democrat. They believe that if they label me a Democrat, I cannot beat Lisa Murkowski. Fifty four percent of Alaskans are independents. Democrats are only about 15 percent of the electorate here. They believe if they successfully label me as a Democrat that I will not be able to beat Senator Murkowski.”

“Mark Begich, who used to be Alaska’s Democratic Senator, says he does not support Ray Metcalfe. He said that publicly.”

Metlcalfe says he’s running an anti-corruption candidacy and that he favors Bernie Sanders’ policies.

“He says that but the Bernie people in Alaska say they don’t believe it. The Bernie people are supporting me. They are working on my campaign.”

Has Bernie supported you?

“We have no formal endorsement from Senator Sanders yet.”

Are there any public polls?

“There are no public polls. I’ve heard that Senator Murkowski did a poll but they didn’t release it.”

“I was talked into running when someone showed me a poll that was done by the PPP. It showed an independent could beat Senator Murkowski.”

What about corporate power and corporate crime?

“I’m a fan of Ralph Nader’s book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. He thinks the alliance will stop this takeover of the reckless influence of corporations and their government patrons.”

“Corporate crime is a big deal. I read something you wrote for the Harvard Law Record. The things you have described — I have seen over my professional career as an attorney. When the little guy gets charged with a crime, he goes to a public defender. The public defender negotiates a deal. But when corporations get charged with a crime they can hire the most expensive lawyers on the planet. And those lawyers are expert at negotiating deals with the government to prevent people from going to jail. It’s about the resources. Maybe someone down on the corporate ladder will go to jail.”

“One of the things that bothers me is that these big corporations are pushing for more ordinary people to be put in jail because it will help their corporate profits. I’ve seen that first hand. I was working on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration Reform. We were going down to the border, going into detention centers. I was shocked to find out in the readings they gave us that corporations like GEO and CCA were actually lobbying for tougher laws on the theory that this would increase their corporate profits. They were in the private prison industry. They would lobby to have tougher sentences for people so that they could lock them up. The corporate minutes at some of these meetings would show that they would talk openly about how fewer and fewer Americans were getting convicted of crimes. And this was going to reduce their profits. And they needed a new source of profits. And that would be immigration. They were going to push for tougher and tougher immigrations.”

“We now have a horrible situation. I just read an article last night about how most of the new prisoners in America were immigrants. They were not badly behaving people. They were just trying to feed their families in the United States, but they don’t have the right sort of visas, so they get locked up in federal prison for long periods of time.”

“I have a client whose husband called me. He’s a military veteran and a senior citizen. He was practically in tears. His wife is doing six months in federal prison. She is from Mexico.

The reason she is doing six months in federal prison is because she came up to the border with the United States wanting to see her son. Her son is in the Marine Corps and was about to be deployed. She wanted to see her son, but she didn’t have the proper visa. In an effort to get their statistics up, they grabbed her and accused her of trying to enter the United States illegally. They put her in jail for six months. This military veteran, a U.S. citizen, is desperate to try and get his wife out of jail. She is not an immoral person. She just wanted to come back and see her son. And now she is doing six months in federal prison.”

“What is driving this? The corporate profit motive. You are talking about corporate crime. It ought to be a crime for a corporation to lobby to put more people in jail so as to increase corporate profits. It’s just crazy.”

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Margaret Stock, see 30 Corporate Crime Reporter 34(11) September 5, 2016, print edition only.]

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..