A memo obtained by the Alaska Landmine, from the Legislature’s Division of Legal and Research Services to Representative Zack Fields (D – Anchorage), suggests that the paid ads that Governor Michael J. Dunleavy (R – Alaska) is running against legislators violate the Executive Branch Ethics Act.
The memo concludes with:
The full memo can be seen here:
The Anchorage Daily News recently ran an article titled, “Gov. Mike Dunleavy targets political opponents with state-funded advertising campaign.” In the article it says:
The campaign is legal and appears to be effective in driving public testimony and comment, but lawmakers say it is creating distrust between Alaska’s legislative and executive branches and making it more difficult to find a compromise that ends the ongoing special legislative session.
However, they do not cite anything suggesting the paid ad campaign is legal. The Landmine published an article on May 12, “Legislators get voice mails calling them the N-word and other vulgar slurs” that talks about three Facebook pages the Governor’s office is running, as well as text messages and other methods used to contact Alaskans about legislators.
Dunleavy has been using paid ads on Facebook to target individual legislators that include Senate President Cathy Giessel (R – Anchorage) and Senator Natasha von Imhof (R – Anchorage), who is a Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
According to the memo, someone would have to file an ethics complaint for the matter to be officially determined. According to Alaska Statute 39.52.310, the personnel board would appoint an outside special counsel to investigate the complaint. We could have very own special counsel! That would really bring it all together.
According to longtime legislators and staffers, this kind of targeted ad campaign by a governor, against legislators, using State funds is unprecedented. According to the ADN article:
“Have you ever seen anything like it, Bryce?” asked Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, in a Friday morning meeting.
“No, not anything like this at all,” replied House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. “(As) somebody who worked in the Capitol throughout the ’90s, and I’ve been a legislator for well over a decade — I’ve never seen an administration employ tactics like this, and especially, apparently using state funding to do it.”
A recent press release from Dunleavy criticized legislative leaders:
Multiple sources have confirmed that negotiations between the Governor and Legislature have broken down and the relationship between the two branches is worsening. The Senate is scheduled to concur on the Conference Committee’s version of the crime bill on Tuesday. The budget is more or less agreed upon by the House and Senate, yet they have not yet passed the Conference Committee’s version. This leaves the PFD, which still appears to be unresolved in the Senate.
It will be interesting to see if the Governor is willing to compromise at all with the Legislature over the PFD. Publicly attacking the Senate President and the Legislature is probably not a winning strategy. In fact, the House and Senate seem to be coming closer together over their issues with Dunleavy.