Tonight, Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) gave his fourth State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature in Juneau. At the end of his speech, he stated, “One last thing: everyone’s invited to the mansion to spend some time with our guests, including Miss America.”
Shortly after the end of the speech, I headed to the Governor’s Mansion. As I tried to walk in, the head of Dunleavy’s security prevented me from entering. He told me no press was allowed. I told him the governor had invited everyone and asked whether he made the decision to stop me on his own or was doing so on behalf of the governor. He replied that it was his call. I asked him if he could confirm the decision with the governor or his staff. He refused, and told me to leave.
I then did a live stream outside of the Governor’s Mansion. It was clear that Dunleavy’s invitation to “everyone” had been taken at face value by everyone else. Republican and Democratic legislators, staff, and members of the public with no government titles or positions came and went freely. One legislator told me the party was packed, and that there were many members of the public in attendance that he did not recognize. There was no sign-in procedure or guest list.
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It seems that security was on lookout for one group of people only: the media.
Last week, Dunleavy held a press conference before the first day of session. He concluded by condemning the media, specifically targeting the Anchorage Daily News. He spoke of a new “set of rules” for his press conferences and pledged to “call folks out at every press conference.”
Tonight’s incident was not the first time the Governor’s office has attempted to block the Landmine from events. Last year, the Landmine sued the Dunleavy Administration on First Amendment and due process grounds after his administration repeatedly blocked the Landmine from press conferences. The suit was successful. A federal Trump appointed judge issued a permanent injunction compelling the Dunleavy administration to invite the Landmine to all future press conferences. The Dunleavy administration then settled with the Landmine and agreed to pay $65,000 (the money went entirely to the Landmine’s attorneys) and provide an invitation to future press conferences.
Hostility toward the media seems to increasingly be part of the ethos of the Dunleavy administration. The administration has faced scrutiny and criticism in the media on several topics in recent weeks, including the firing of Permanent Fund CEO Angela Rodell, failure to deliver supersized PFDs, and a bizarre endorsement from former President Trump offered on the condition that Dunleavy not endorse Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska) in her upcoming race.