An internal power struggle at the Calista Corporation centers on the handling of a personnel matter and whether it was dealt with properly, or whether it’s being used as a tool in an attempt to take over the corporation. The dispute is working its way through the courts now. The court filings do not disclose the identities of those at the center of the incident, but it is now clear which Calista corporate executive was fired in the wake of alleged sexual harassment.
George Owletuck used to be Calista’s government relations liaison and in August 2017, a woman accused him of relentlessly harassing her. CEO Andrew Guy’s alleged mismanagement of that complaint has devolved into a power struggle between him, former board chair Wayne Don, and their respective supporters.
Before Calista filed its civil suit against Don and his supporters, KYUK uncovered Owletuck’s identity with the help of an anonymous source who does not work at Calista. KYUK later confirmed Owletuck’s identity in an interview with Jim St. George, Calista’s former Business Development Director. St. George worked with Owletuck on at least one major project at Calista, and when the woman accused Owletuck of sexually harassing her in August 2017, St. George was the man CEO Andrew Guy put her in touch with.
"I introduced myself, said who I am," said St. George. "I said, 'I understand you’ve talked to George Owletuck and apparently there have been some things that have been inappropriate. I apologize.'"
St. George laughed dryly. "And she said [to me], ‘Oh, you have no idea!’"
After speaking with St. George, KYUK had enough information to go with a story on Owletuck’s role but held the story to focus on coverage of the lawsuit and the defendants’ responses. There we found further confirmation of Owletuck’s identity. The response written by Don’s attorney, filed in court Tuesday morning, included four pictures from social media of George Owletuck and CEO Andrew Guy travelling together. Owletuck’s name and face were redacted from the court filing, but the other people in the picture were not. KYUK searched their names on Facebook and was able to find unredacted versions of those pictures, which are included at the top of this article.
The Calista Corporation hired Owletuck for the government relations job in 2014, citing his impressive resume and past leadership experience in the region. He had worked for State Sen. Lyman Hoffman and the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, and he currently serves as a board member for Marshall’s Native Village Corporation, Maserculiq Incorporated.
Owletuck also might have played a key role in Calista’s internal politics, even before the corporation hired him. In a response filed in court Tuesday, Don’s attorney portrays Owletuck as CEO Andrew Guy’s “closest advisor.” The response quoted emails that Owletuck sent the woman he sexually harassed where he claims to have played an essential role in helping Guy hold onto power during a boardroom coup in 2012. Back then, when Guy was put on administrative leave, Owletuck says that he campaigned extensively for him on Facebook and messaged hundreds of shareholders on his behalf. CEO Andrew Guy was reinstated; Calista hired Owletuck two years later.
According to the response filed by Don’s attorney on Tuesday, Owletuck started to sexually harass women almost as soon as he was hired. During the three years that he worked for Calista, Owletuck was allegedly disciplined for making inappropriate comments to women he worked with, taking credit for a woman’s work, behaving inappropriately with an intern, and “watching” a female employee.
When a woman tried to sell her company to Calista in August 2017, she told CEO Andrew Guy that Owletuck had harassed her too; Owletuck had been her point of contact at Calista and advised her on her business proposal. Guy told Business Development Director Jim St. George to become the woman’s contact for the corporation, rather than Owletuck. St. George remembers what the woman, who lives in the lower 48, told him.
"She basically told me that George had sent her underwear," said St. George, "had shown up at her house in person, and had sent her 1,200 texts, or something of that magnitude. So obviously any sane person, their radar would skyrocket at that point."
Jim St. George reported that sexual harassment to Calista’s Human Resources Director; the corporation investigated Owletuck and fired him in November 2017. But CEO Andrew Guy does not appear to have reported Owletuck’s behavior to Calista’s Human Resources Department when he heard about it in August 2017, even though Calista’s Code of Conduct says that he should have. Defendants in the lawsuit have presented exhibits from the time after the woman complained to Guy about Owletuck, showing that Guy and Owletuck went hunting together and traveled together to Washington D.C.
Beyond these sexual harassment allegations, Owletuck has also been accused of mismanaging money in other projects. In 2011, the Newtok Traditional Council hired the former legislative aide to serve as CEO of the tribe’s new nonprofit, the Mertarvik Community Development Corporation. Climate change is rapidly eroding Newtok’s shoreline, and one of the main goals of the nonprofit was to help the village build an evacuation center at its new site on higher ground. But the project stalled and Owletuck was later accused of spending some of Newtok’s grant funding in questionable ways.
According to a 2013 state audit, Owletuck was paid $20,643 for “bogus reasons.” The audit also indicates that Owletuck was paid $19,440 that wasn’t processed properly though the nonprofit’s payroll system, which violates IRS rules and regulations. All of that money came from state grants, which the nonprofit was using to help Newtok relocate. In a letter to Newtok’s Traditional Council in 2014, Scott Ruby, the head of the state’s Division of Community and Regional Affairs at the time, claimed that over $300,000 from those grants had been spent improperly. All of this happened before the Calista Corporation hired George Owletuck.
KYUK tried to contact George Owletuck for this story, but was unable to reach him.