The draft of a once-proposed loan agreement between an Alaska Native corporation and Alice Rogoff has shed new light on the 2017 implosion of the 49th state’s largest newspaper.
Despite a widespread, Alaska belief in the deep pockets of the Alaska Dispatch News owner, the then-wife of billionaire business mogul David Rubenstein, the contract reveals Rogoff might have been forced to abandon the newspaper business with the costs of her fascination with media threatening her personal income.
In a hearing in Superior Court in Anchorage last week, Rogoff publicly admitted for the first time that her Alaska journalism adventures were funded by payments of $5 million per year from then-estranged and now ex-husband Rubenstein. But what has not been previously known is that the couple’s marital-separation agreement contract contained a monetary cap.
A copy of a proposed loan agreement with Sitnasuak Native Corp. obtained by craigmedred.news reveals that the annual payments from Rubenstein to Rogoff had less than six years left to run when Rogoff started negotiations to buy the Anchorage Daily News/ADN.com from The McClatchy Co. in late 2013.
“…The balance to be paid under the second amendment to the marital agreement (MA) is not less than $28,750,000 as of 4-1-2014,” the documents disclose.
A Nome-based company, Sitnasuak was looking to loan Rogoff $4 million to aid the Daily News purchase. The loan was never made. Sources familiar with the document believe Sitnasuak might have been among a group of companies approached by PT Capital, a company trying to help Rogoff find newspaper investors.
Rogoff was one of PT’s founders. She has said at trial she still maintains an investment in the company but is not active in its management. PT is now trying to gain a piece of the Alaska Permanent Fund to manage.
How to lose millions
Rogoff burned through approximately 75 percent of her nearly $29 million pot of money in about three years of ADN ownership, her statements and court records in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court revealed last year. Rogoff claims to have poured $23 million into subsidizing ADN operating costs after she bought the newspaper from the California-based McClatchy in April 2014.
ADN employees have said she told them in early 2017 to stop paying bills. The newspaper and its companion website were in bankruptcy by August and sold to the Binkley Company from Fairbanks by September for $1 million. The newspaper is now back to being the Anchorage Daily News.
By early 2017, the numbers would indicate Rogoff was down to a marital-settlement guarantee of only $6.75 million to support her high-flying, $5-million-per-year lifestyle in future years.
A private pilot, she once owned two Cessna 206, single-engine aircraft – one of which she showed off to then-President Barack Obama when he visited her lakefront Anchorage home in 2015 and one of which she crashed in the Halibut Cove Lagoon near the south end of the Kenai Peninsula in July 2016. She was lucky to survive that crash.
The two planes were worth upwards of $1 million and costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to maintain. She also had high lifestyle costs. She traveled extensively, and still does, to visit an old, family home on Nantucket Island and to attend conferences around the world to discuss the Arctic, a region of the planet on which she considers herself an expert.
Since bankrupting the Dispatch News, she has also continued to subsidize a news website covering the Arctic.
After a long separation, Rogoff and Rubenstein finally divorced late last year. Details were not revealed, but it was widely thought among those who had known Rogoff well in Alaska that the woman who once wanted half of Rubenstein’s estimated $3 billion fortune settled for significantly less in order to maintain the cash flow necessary to support what most Americans would consider a lavish lifestyle.
Since the divorce, Rubenstein has helped bail his ex-wife out of trouble in Bankruptcy Court where accusations of possible fraud were raised. It is unknown if that was part of the divorce settlement.
Wheeling and dealing
Rogoff bought the Daily News/ADN.com from McClatchy in April of 2014 and rebranded it the Alaska Dispatch News/ADN.com after completing a $34-million deal that required little of her cash.
The bulk of the $34 million came from GCI Inc., an Anchorage telecom and cable company that bought the old, 125,000-square-foot Daily News headquarters in the Airport Heights area of Anchorage out the deal for about $15 million. Rogoff borrowed another $13 million from Northrim Bank.
She has told different stories about the sources of the remaining $6 million. In a sworn affidavit in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court after she took the Dispatch News into bankruptcy, she said she put $6 million into the deal.
At that time, Rogoff was still trying to conceal just how much Rubenstein was paying her to live in Alaska. She has since been forced to reveal more in state court where former Dispatch News president Tony Hopfinger is suing the now 67-year-old millionaire for the balance of $900,000 of $1 million she promised him in an infamous napkin-deal.
On the stand and under oath in state court, Rogoff said last week that only $1 million of the $6 million buy-in was hers and the other $5 million was Rubenstein’s. All indications are that her attorneys structured the deal to allow the annual payments from Rubenstein to Rogoff to help her subsidize ADN operating costs as she merged the Dispatch, an online only news operation started by Hopfinger and ex-wife Amanda Coyne, with the Daily News newspaper and its far bigger online news website.
Her scheme was to build a dominant Alaska media empire. In court on Monday, on the stand in the Hopfinger lawsuit for the fourth day, she claimed to have built “virtually a state monopoly” on Alaska news before the ADN bankruptcy.
What that is worth has been the subject of much debate at trial.
At the time Rogoff was buying the newspaper for $34 million, Alaska Dispatch co-founder Hopfinger decided he wanted to sell his remaining 5 or 10 percent share (how much he owns is tangled) in the company in which Rogoff bought 90 percent interest in 2009.
He asked for $1.3 million and Rogoff countered with $1 million paid in 10 installments of $100,000 per year. On that all parties now in court agree.
Beyond that it gets complicated. Rogoff contends that in her head – or “in my mind” as she has testified over and over – the $100,000 annual payments were bonus incentives on top of Hopfingers $190,000 per year salary (which he later reduced to $155,000 to give a $35,000 per year raise to ADN editor David Hulen) – intended to keep Hopfinger in Alaska for a decade, though there is no evidence to support that argument.
Hopfinger contends the $100,000 per year was the buy-out of his interest in Alaska Dispatch Publishing, the company that owned the Alaska Dispatch. There is some evidence to support that view, but no document stipulating a buyout specifically signed by Rogoff.
Hopfinger worked with Rogoff lawyers on various drafts of a buyout, but Rogoff never signed one and claims not to have seen the email to which the most explicit draft was attached.
Meanwhile, Rogoff’s attorney for the Hopfinger case is arguing that Hopfinger isn’t owed anything because the interest he was selling wasn’t worth anything, a claim that has been countered repeatedly on the stand in court by his client.
Rogoff has said Dispatch, the Dispatch News, and ADN were worth a lot, but not financially. When she tried to sell the business to an Outside newspaper chain in early 2017, she put the value at $3 million it was revealed in court Monday.
Rogoff has also testified that if Hopfinger had stayed with her instead of leaving the Dispatch (whether he was fired or quit is another source of disagreement), she would still be in business today, and the media operation would be on the way to financial success.
In other sound bites at trial Monday:
- Jennifer Alexander, the Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot attorney around when Rogoff signed and dated the napkin promising Hopfinger the $1 million testified “I’m not sure I was in the conference room when it was signed.” “Our conference room is very large,” she said.
- She also claimed she was not all that familiar with the various deals Rogoff and Hopfinger had going: a buy-out, an employment contract to work at the new Alaska Dispatch News, and a possible ownership interest in the latter. She admitted to covering her ears and going “naw, naw, naw” when Rogoff started discussing those things. “That would be something I would do,” she said. She said she was “trying to bring some levity to the situation because it was very uncomfortable.” Hopfinger’s attorney did not ask her specifically why it was uncomfortable, but Alexander indicated Hopfinger and Rogoff wanted to talk about things other than the specific employment contract she was in the room to draft.
- Alexander said she couldn’t remember whether Rogoff wanted a loyalty clause in the contract. Rogoff has fired at least one other employee for violating an “implied” loyalty clause in a contract.
- Alexander testified Rogoff and Hopfinger appeared frustrated, but “I wouldn’t say angry.” Rogoff had earlier testified Hopfinger was banging his hand on the table. Alexander said she saw nothing like that.
- Rogoff, in her last day on the stand, said she and Hopfinger did most of their business verbally. “I don’t do business in writing,” she said. She said she didn’t need to tell him of her idea the $100,000 was an annual bonus. “I didn’t think I had to say it,” she said. “I thought it was clear.”
- Rogoff couldn’t explain why the payment was being kept secret from Northrim Bank if it was part of an employment contract, and not a separate financial obligation requiring bank approval. And she said she wrote Hopfinger a personal check for the first $100,000 because “I didn’t want anyone at the newspaper to see how high Tony’s compensation was.” As a rule, salaries at the privately owned ADN were kept secret.
- Rogoff said the $6 to $8 million lost by the Alaska Native Arts Foundation, a nonprofit and one of Rogoff’s several other failed businesses, was “mostly federal money,” not state money.
- In his first appearance on the stand, Hopfinger testified that he didn’t think of his arrangement with Rogoff as a marriage, as she often referred to it, but as a very close partnership.
- Hopfinger said Rogoff bought her 90 percent interest in Dispatch in 2009 for $75,000 in another napkin deal that wasn’t formalized by lawyers until almost six months later. He always trusted Rogoff, he said. When his employment contract with Dispatch expired, he said, it was never renewed because “I’m not sure either one of us even knew it expired.” But the business went on paying him as if the contract still existed.
- When Rogoff started talking about buying the newspaper, Hopfinger said, “it seemed pretty risky to me. I was an online guy.”
- In the meeting with Alexander, Hopfinger said, he and Rogoff talked about trust, and she was offended that he wanted something in writing. “I trust you,” he testified was his response, “but if you’re in my shoes, you’d want to have something in writing.” She then scrawled out the promise and said if she didn’t pay, “show it to the judge,” Hopfinger said. Afterward, he said, he, Rogoff and Alexander all laughed about it. He was under the impression Rogoff wanted to avoid a formal agreement because of a Northrim Bank restriction on Rogoff spending.
Craig, for the record, I am enjoying your ADN/Rogoff articles. Please keep them coming.
If the press could be trusted at all we’d be reading about the former Lt.Gov. “the Village Didler” but we all know that crime will go unpunished as he leaves office richer than he did coming in…Harry Truman famously said;”those who enter politics poor and leave rich are stealing!”I’d rather listen to two tomcats fornicate tailtied over a clothesline than any spewage from former political pirates like the Obama’s….We have turned the Asylum over to the inmates!
What crime is that, wolfass? Talk about “spewage!”
Rogoff needs a better divorce attorney. David Rubenstein is one of the richest men in the country. He spent $20 million to buy a copy of the Magna Carta from Ross Perot and then spent $1 million to build a box to display it. He’s donated hundreds of millions of dollars to all sorts of charities, heads up the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian…. and he sends his wife a mere $5 million a year?
What we are seeing is the Puppet Oligarchs in charge of so many areas of our economy may not be as “rich” as we are led to believe.
Now if we could only get a copy of Trump’s taxes, we would see the grand scam perpetrated on American society…
When you wrote:
“Rogoff said the $6 to $8 million lost by the Alaska Native Arts Foundation, a nonprofit and one of Rogoff’s several other failed businesses, was “mostly federal money,” not state money.”
I start to see the Obama connection as well….
More deficit spending on failed political programs.
What a waste of tax payers dollars…
Not bad for a race baiter and community agitator.
“The launch of Michelle Obama’s cross-country book tour for her new memoir, “Becoming,” last week is just the latest marker on the road to fabulous wealth for the former first couple, who are on their way to becoming a billion-dollar brand.
In addition to a $65 million book advance and an estimated $50 million deal with Netflix, both of which she shares with husband Barack Obama, the former first lady is poised to rake in millions from appearances on her 10-city US tour and sales of merchandise connected to her autobiography.
And like her husband, Michelle Obama is currently in demand as a speaker for corporations and nonprofits, commanding $225,000 per appearance, The Post has learned.
Forbes estimated the couple made $20.5 million in salaries and book royalties between 2005 — when Barack Obama became a US senator and they first arrived in Washington — and 2016. They are now worth more than $135 million.”
Steve, you should know by now rich business people never use their own money.
noone I know really gives a
shit about Rogoff and her
the public is really concerned
with the drug zombies kicking
our doors down and stealing our stuff!!!! get it??
Going to agree with Bob here.. Man, from the trash littering Anchorage, to the young bum, druggies laying on the street corners, to the druggie misfits working and hanging out in the Walmart parking lot at 6am, to Meth labs and indoor greenhouses in the rural. Of course Alaska isn’t alone. The rural lower 48 is pretty much ruled by that drug cancer. There are only so many strippers and dealers to go around, so, how else are they supposed to feed that $500/day drug habit – STEAL!!! I kind of like the Phillippine approach.
You only recite what U hear on Fox News….
First of all 33 states have legalized Marijuana for medicinal uses like PTSD…
I suspect you live in one of the states which has not.
Alcohol is the most abused DRUG in America and leads to job loss, homelessness and violence (many times domestic in nature).
“Alcohol consumption can damage the brain and most body organs. Areas of the brain that are especially vulnerable to alcohol-related damage are the cerebral cortex (largely responsible for our higher brain functions, including problem solving and decision making), the hippocampus (important for memory and learning), and the cerebellum (important for movement coordination).”
Third, most drugs that are “abused” are prescription drugs…usually obtained legally from a general practice MD or DO.
“Prescription drugs are the #1 most abused drug in this category. Whether obtained from a friend or family member or prescribed by their own doctor, people often misuse or abuse pain relievers such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone to experience euphoria or intense excitement.”
These “pain killer” addictions lead people to experiment with harsh drugs like Heroin.
Lastly, since U.S. “occupation” of Afghanistan, Herion production has skyrocketed…
Bob & Bryan:
I and many others are members of the “public”, believe this story about the failure of the largest newspaper and a carpet bagger woman who apparently has a hard time with the truth and who had far more money than common sense, is very newsworthy and very interesting. Nobody forces anyone to read Medred’s pieces and I recommend for those who do not think the Rogoff saga is worth reading that they skip over these articles. For me, and I suspect many others, I say keep up the good work Craig.
After seeing the downfall of ADN over the past 2 years, I’m interested in it’s conclusion. Besides, it’s fun to see which one of you tin-hat wearin’ fools will take the comment section down a new worm hole of insanity.
yes, Bob. i noticed the shortage of crime news being reported in Alaska media. i’d suggested Nixle where you can get a steady stream of reports to fuel the idea crime is out of control in Anchorage.
maybe it’s just a climate thing. the more the weather gets like Atlanta; the more we get like Atlanta.
Craig, is property crime “not” out of control (whatever that means) in Anchorage?
I believe the folks that knew thought there were about 50 individuals in Juneau making a living burglaring houses about a year ago. Has been a number of arrests, since then, and I believe we’ve seen some relief. And crime seems to be on many pols to do lists.
How long before we’ll all be raking our forests to control the fires?
I do not think Anchorage is alone in the rise of our “Narco State” in USA…
I will not forget the day this summer when I saw a H.A. biker in the valley blow down the middle of the Park’s hwy at around 90mph right past me…it just so happened an AST patrol car was coming up the southern lane and did not even flash a light at him.
I thought, hell…I have not seen that kinda stuff since I was driving through So Cal years ago….
Then I read in a story a few weeks later that a “purported Hells Angels member” is busted — “after a joint task force uncovered more than 12 pounds of methamphetamine and some $25,000 in cash during a raid on Friday.”
I can only think the large amounts of property crime (stealing and burglary) is directly connected to the drug trafficking and distribution rings in AK.
Gangs are one of our nation’s greatest security threats and need complete vigilance from our society.
Storage units and gates are getting “torched” in Willow and what we are seeing is modern “organized crime” of the most serious offense.
Bill it sounds like you are throwing shade against trumps forest management comments . It appears you are poo pooing the concept forest fires can be a result of poor forest management. I suggest you do some research. Or talk to any head Forester . They will explain to you how forest litter small twigs and combustible objects in combination with specific humidity and temperature raise fire indices . During fire season they do a test each morning to determine such . If you remove any one of those risk factors fire risk goes down . I took a lot of classes relating to such . Lots of folks know more but that’s part of formula. Another part is actual forest management. Removing deadfall / insect damage , controlled burns ect . In Alaska – fire abatement and prevention. There are companies who specialize in it . Our forestry -fire crews remove dead or hazard trees when they have slow seasons. Also it’s factored into management. They put out insect traps and watch forest health do timber surveys and consider where fire hazards are and how to mitigate . Logging can help as it spaces out the trees so it’s harder for fires to jump . In insect damaged forests timber salvage sales is common . So trump is 100% correct and his detractors show their enormous lack of knowledge when they gave him a hard time for saying management is to blame . Forest management is something humans can easily resolve so it’s a start . I’m sure trump is not heavily educated on subject but he knows enough to understand part of the problem. His detractors on the other hand just want to spread bad feelings about him regardless of the facts. Doesn’t he make enough legitimate mistakes? Why make stuff up and lie about someone trying to do a job the best they know how . Pretty sad those people are . Maybe they just wanna hear themselves talk or are blinded by hate .
But Steve, you said my post was bologne and that Meth wasn’t the problem – perscription drug were. Now you say Hells Angels and Meth are?
Opinion – this explains what you are saying I believe.
Don Trump knows nothing about forest management but he would have you believe that he is an expert who is also planning on a “great climate.”
The Finns are having a field day with Trump’s gaff and I’m all for them. He knows nothing of what he speaks and further doesn’t give a shit that he is ill informed. He only chooses to be ill informed because he has at his disposal all the experts in the country. What does he do but BS his way through something that he “thought” he heard from the head of a country that has no, I repeat NO, comparison to California (different forests, different climate, etc.).
While it may be the best he knows how, it’s not good enough because there are plenty of experts around who could give him advice that he won’t take.
I tried to point out how pharmaceutical drugs fuel the addiction cycle…
Do you know that one family controls the patents to Oxycotten?
Also, U.S. Congress passed laws that moved to weaken the DEA in prosecution of large illegal shipments of pharmaceuticals.
“The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.”
Many times these prescription pills begin the narcotic addiction cycle into more destructive drugs such as Heroin and Meth which nearly half of all on the street in the U.S. arrives via the Mexican Cartels.
Trump is completely wrong regarding the fire in Paradise.
These are highly developed and manicured “suburban” communities….lawns, shrubs, concrete pads, swimming pools and sidewalks with paved roads.
Buildings surrounded with concrete and full of sprinklers still burned to the ground???
Many had NO trees around?
Fire hydrants on every block…
These forest were “managed”…how else would you make space for over 8,600 houses and over 200 businesses throughout the area?
So what caused this “Incendiary fire” to occur and spread the way it did?
Here is a video where the firefighters speak out against Trump.
My deepest sympathy goes to ALL of these victims.
I have a friend who cannot even go back to check on his house….told it might be four months or more….this starts to look like Marshal Law in America.
Again, only complete Apathy from Trump.
Steve, have you ever lived in SoCal? I have and I can tell you forest fires happen on a regular basis there. Only difference this time was some Hollyweirds were in its path. Certainly not Global Warming or some silly nonsense like that. SoCal is desert scrub. Lightening doesn’t mix well with desert scrub. Just a fact of life. Guess what happens when it rains a lot there? Runoff, flooding, etc.. is that Global Warming to?
I have lived in Cali…
4 years with NPS in a wall tent in Yosemite…dealt with many fires every year.
Worked with fire crews on large mitigation projects for 3 seasons…..
But, only 3 percent of forests in CA are under state management and this fire in Paradise was not So Cal….
Nor was it considered a “wild forest”….
This was a highly developed area…in Nor Cal.
And never have so many structures and people burned so quickly?
Let’s not forget the powerlines were reported “down” 15 mins before the blaze occurred and electric lines have been linked to many fires in the past.
“State officials have determined that electrical equipment owned by PG&E, including power lines and poles, was responsible for at least 17 of 21 major fires in Northern California last fall.”
Lastly, yes Climate Change exasperbated this inferno…over 1 thousand missing….nearly 9,000 structures burned….
Truly sad for all of those involved.
That video introduced by proven liar Brian Williams- Steve you can fill us in on Williams dishonesty. A man who lost all credibility I believe. The video a complete smear piece by people with very small brains out to try and make someone look bad . Example trump points fingers and didn’t open his arms . Wow that’s bullshit . When was last time you saw a fishing captain ,army general buisness manager open his arms . They would say fix this and this and don’t let it happen again period ! Trump is not hired to be sweet and kind he is hired to fix our problems. Apathy my ass . Trump cares as much as anyone. Those poor people lost everything they own and their lives . Trump wants it fixed that’s why he is blaming. Weather he is right or wrong can be debated but someone who pretends to know how trump feels about it is just blowing smoke into the wind. Making stories up . To suit their narrative. Trump had nothing to do with fact people are not let in that is just stand protocol . You know that well . It’s for safety and anti looting. How about some fricking truth rather than smears ? It can be debated weather people should be let in . I say let freedom ring and let those people in regardless of danger . But that’s just me . I’ve been there rescuing people, other peoples pets and belongings and homes while stuff is exploding, world war 11 relic munitions, propane , fuel ect and flames 200 ft high . I’ve been wearing nomex since I was 13 . Fought my first fire at 13 . Lots of firefighters in the family. I have burns from those incidents. My family has had forest fires take 3 homes . I know they are hard to keep at bay but not impossible. Steve don’t listen to all the trash media going to rot your brain. Take a look at satellite images pre burn of town of paradise. The trees were very close . Thinning and harvest would have remedy part of the danger . It can even be done on private land . Without nafta that would become profitable again . You experienced fire . You know what reduces danger . Vegetation free zones . Fuel reduction,Thinning , controlled burns ect . It’s not magic . You are educated enough not to spread smears and trash video .
Steve , I support your thinking about prescription drugs . Bad deal . Ties into addiction. Lawsuits and studies agree with you . The guy trump had in charge of health that was trying to put pressure on prescription drug companies as to their methods and prices just came up as “suicide” from multiple blunt force trauma injuries . He was 47. Sounds like big money involved to me .
Sorry, but you do not understand what is causing these intense fires (accross the Globe).
Most forest are logged and trimmed.
Over 9,000 “wildfires” burned last year in cali…
Over 170 new wildfires in ONE day last October?
Video after video shows fire guys stating “they have never seen fires like this”.
This is not about “raking the floor”.
These areas in Paradise and Santa Rosa (past fire) that burned were very manicured…
Sure there were tall trees, but plenty of barriers like highways, concrete pads, driveways, sidewalks, commercial districts (with the most “sprinklers” in their building codes).
Many burned areas still had green trees around where houses were…I never have seen that after a wildfire blows through.
Usually the needles are scorched at least?
Obviously there are new factors at play.
You can connect the dots, but to think cutting all the green trees away makes one safe in this day and age is just foolish.
I had nearly 100 foot clearing around my first cabin…with watered green lawn and it still burned in the Sockeye Fire.
Most of the places in Santa Rosa were surrounded by concrete and yet they all burned.
If an area does not get rain for months and months, then everything is bone dry with a lower combustible temp.
Add in “unpredicted” winds of up to 80mph in the middle of the night and you can have a “GeoStorm”.
Do U think it is a coincidence that the movie GeoStorm came out the same time as these fires were burning?
Maybe research “GeoEngineering” and see what comes up?
One 30 year veteran of Cal Fire thinks these current fire patterns are hotter, quicker and more destructive than anything he ever had seen.
I tend to agree with him.
Steve I’m on same page on geo engineering dislike . Understatement. First I’ve found on it was World War Two where britts used it and it was documented as to functional and dangerous. That’s a verifiable fact . It caused them floods and other havoc . The whole cloud seeding is a travesty. Even in Alaska . More known in California though. Toxins anybody? I think it was Microsoft owner who suggested sea salt is better alternative. I admit haven’t looked at geo engineering link with calif fires . But just for supposition. If aluminum or other chemicals was in the cloud seeding that came down with past rains and was covering everything with a fine dust it sure could create an unstoppable fire . Aluminum likes to burn . A fine dust of it would do what – insanity fire . But all that’s just supposition. I have no idea if there is any link . I do know California can be hot , dry and has a lot of dead debris. Mixture for a fire infurno . Even the American Indians did controlled burns . So I guarantee trump is at least partially on correct mindset . = management. Fire abatement ect is first line . That’s scientific proven fact . Interface firefighting around structures is incredible hard and takes excessive preventive measures. I would have to research if geo engineering has any link .
Also to clarify. I only fought fire intermittently over a period of many years . Lots of people have way more experience and knowledge about it than I .