Verne Martell is the husband of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
His wife was in the spotlight amid the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump. Sen. Murkowski was seen as a possible “yes” vote when it came to calling for witnesses, such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton, to testify. But on January 31, she announced that she would join with the Republican majority and vote against calling for witnesses.
She explained on social media, “The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena. Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything.” The final vote in the Senate was 51-49 against calling witnesses.
Here’s what you need to know about Sen. Murkowski’s husband, Verne Martell.
1. Verne Martell Encouraged His Wife’s Political Career & Murkowski Has Hinted That His Political Opinions Don’t Always Align With Hers
Lisa Murkowski got involved with politics in the late 1990s. She was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1998.
At the time, her two sons would have been about 5 and 6 years old. Her husband, Verne Martell reportedly was her biggest champion. In an interview with the New York Times in April 2018, Murkowski said Martell encouraged her to pursue her political ambitions. He took on a greater bulk of the responsibilities when it came to the kids.
Murkowski told the newspaper the arrangement worked well for the family, but that her political life has caused some friction in more recent years. She hinted that Martell may disagree with her on some issues. “It’s gotten harder with the strangeness of politics right now. Because he’s got his opinions, too… Most times when I come home, I am just, I don’t really want to talk about politics. I want to talk about the flooring that you laid in the living room today.”
2. Verne Martell & Lisa Murkowski Have Been Married Since 1987
The senator and her husband have been together for more than three decades. On their 31st anniversary on August 22, 2018, Sen. Murkowski wrote on social media, “Today Verne and I celebrate 31 years of marriage. I’m blessed to have him at my side as we have raised our sons and served our state. Happy anniversary!”
Martell and Murkowski appear to enjoy hiking in the Alaskan outdoors as often as they can. She shared the picture above from a trip to the Matanuska Glacier. “Alaskans, what did you do on Ted Stevens Day to get out and play? I hiked out onto the Matanuska Glacier with my husband Verne, went hiking with my son Matt and friends, and goofed around at a photo booth with friends.”
3. Verne Martell Was a Spaghetti Aficionado; He Ran His Own Business Called the ‘Alaska Pasta Company’ For 27 Years Before Selling it to His Son
It’s safe to assume that the Murkowski-Martell household likely ate a lot of pasta over the years. Verne Martell launched his own small business in 1987, called the Alaska Pasta Company, based in Anchorage.
The company focused on manufacturing for wholesale. Martell’s customers included restaurants in the region. Martell usually ran the business completely on his own, without additional employees, as reported by Roll Call in 2016.
Martell eventually decided he wanted to sell the Alaska Pasta Company. He did not expect the buyer to be his own son. Matt Martell studied business in college and told his father that he wanted to take over control.
Verne Martell did not appear to give up cooking, however. He and Murkowski won an award for their salmon cakes recipe at the March of Dimes Gourmet Gala in Washington, D.C. in 2015 (pictured above).
4. Martell & Murkowski Have Two Grown Sons: Matt & Nicolas Martell
Verne Martell and Lisa Murkowski have two grown children. Matt Martell followed his father’s footsteps into the business world. He bought Verne’s pasta company after graduating college with a business degree.
Since taking over the Alaska Pasta Company, Matt Martell has expanded into retail sales. His parents are often been seen by his side selling the pasta at farmer’s markets in Anchorage.
Nicolas Martell, according to his LinkedIn page, worked on his mother’s re-election campaign in 2016 as Director of Field Operations. Nicolas earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2013. He is currently working on his MBA from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Murkowski also attended Willamette for law school.
5. Martell Loves to Fish & the Family Bought Riverfront Land in 2006, But Were Pressured to Sell it Back
Verne Martell and his sons apparently enjoy fishing. Buying waterfront property in 2006 seemed like a good idea at the time. He and Murkowski purchased land in Kenai, a coastal city southwest of Anchorage. The seller was identified as Bob Penney, a developer who was also known for donating significant contributions to congressional candidates. Murkowski also described Penney as a lifelong family friend.
The couple purchased the 1.27-acre plot for $179,400. But an appraisal revealed that the land was worth at least 20 percent more than that, or $214,900. And a nearby property was valued at nearly $400,000; this raised further questions about the nature of the deal and how large of a discount Martell and Murkowskii had truly received.
A Washington watchdog group, the National Legal and Policy Center, filed an ethics complaint. To avoid further controversy, Martell and Murkowski decided to sell the land back to Penney for the same price they had purchased it.