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My Response to Baseless Attacks from Alaska GOP Mouthpiece

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Politics can be a dirty game. As Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Landmine, and as a two-time former candidate for state senate, I know this as well as anybody. Luckily, most political dirt doesn’t stick and is better left ignored. Occasionally, however, a smear comes along that is so repulsive and dishonest that it requires a response.

Several days ago, Republican blogger Suzanne Downing published an article titled “Enter the Woman Hater.” The article claims that I specifically attack “women in politics” and that I have the “long knives out for Alaska’s female political figures.” Suzanne’s “evidence” for these claims is a combination of outright lies and selective evidence that must be exposed and debunked.

The article doesn’t make it past the first sentence before resorting to an easily disproven falsehood. Suzanne Downing claims that I moved to Alaska “a few years back.” In fact, I moved to Alaska in 2004, graduated from UAA in 2009, and purchased a home here in 2012, which I still own and live in.

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Jason Grenn

The bulk of Suzanne’s article is a defense of two female candidates that I have published unflattering information about. In a July 29 column on the Alaska Landmine, I called Nikki Rose “xenophobic” for telling the Anchorage Press that immigrants from “all over the world” are a “big reason” for our current crime problems. Suzanne claims Nikki is simply “pro-safety.” I’ll let readers decide for themselves [link]. I also published information about misleading endorsements from high profile politicians that Nikki created, and which she was asked to remove. Suzanne repeatedly notes that both candidates I published information about are female and Native American. She provides no evidence that I attacked them due to their gender or ethnicity.

This is not the first time she has written an article about me where she has resorted to lying. In a June 27 article about an independent expenditure group I am chairing, that is supporting the primary opponent of Representative Charisse Millett (R – Anchorage), she said, “Landfield usually attacks women in his political work, and shies away from attacks on men.”

What Suzanne Downing is doing in both articles is an extended “lie of omission.” Of course it appears that I only publish negative information about women – if you exclude every single story I’ve posted about men. In fact, the Alaska Landmine has a long record of exposing poor conduct by men in politics. I broke the story about Senator David Wilson (R – Wasilla) putting his phone under a female staffer’s skirt (Suzanne Downing defended Wilson, who is a Republican, and published a photo of the staffer). I have repeatedly challenged Senator Pete Kelly’s (R – Fairbanks) actions as Senate President. I wrote about former Democratic Representative Zach Fansler’s sexual assault of a woman that led to his resignation. I have written about the odd behavior of Representative Justin Parish (D – Juneau). I wrote about the BDSM “sex contract” by former Alaska political operative Ben Sparks. I broke the story about the “BDSM Free Zone” sign Representative George Rauscher (R – Sutton) put on the door of his office in the Capitol. I have written extensively about alleged sexual abuse by current and former elected officials and staffers. And earlier this year, I solicited and ran a story about violence against women in rural communities.

Suzanne Downing suggestively notes that I ran against two female opponents for political office. Of course, she neglects to mention that the senate race in 2016 was a three-way Republican primary that included Craig Johnson. She also fails to mention that I originally filed to run against Representative Chris Tuck (D – Anchorage) in 2011 before deciding to switch and run for the senate after another Republican entered the primary. In any case, Suzanne again provides no evidence that I attacked my political opponents based on their gender. Suzanne seems to believe that simply stating the gender of my opponents is argument enough. I didn’t choose the gender of the candidates running against me, and I never attempted to use their gender against them in any way. Many conservatives rightfully decry the dangers of identity politics. Suzanne has no issue using identity politics when it is beneficial to her partisan agenda.

Suzanne Downing concludes her article by joking that “One must hope that he is content with landing his blows on digital media.” As someone who abhors violence against women and has worked to expose sexual abusers, I find this “joke” disgraceful. I served three years on the board of the Alaska Institute for Justice, an organization that helps female immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I have never sunk to using physical violence against women, and I will continue to use my position as Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Landmine to provide a platform to expose sexual abuse and gender violence in Alaska.

So why is Suzanne Downing doing this? It’s hard to know for sure, but it is likely related to the Alaska Landmine’s coverage of Suzanne’s political blog, “Must Read Alaska.” I frequently refer to Suzanne as the Alaska Republican Party “Propaganda Minister,” a lighthearted reference to the fact that Suzanne’s blog claims to be an independent source of journalism when in reality it operates as the de facto media outlet for the Alaska Republican Party. We describe Suzanne as working for the Alaska Republican Party because, well, she literally does. Until recently Suzanne was listed on the Alaska Republican Party’s “Party Leadership” staff page [link]. Just last week she ran the straw poll at the Alaska Republican Party picnic, and she is running another straw poll at an Alaska Republican Party event today in Palmer, which she advertises in her blog’s newsletter. Before moving offices last week, she rented office space from former Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Hawkins.

It’s also likely that Suzanne simply perceives me as a hostile enemy. The Landmine works hard to be genuinely non-partisan and we do not shy away from publishing facts and information that may damage some Republicans. We have also published information harmful to Democrats. We publish information that may be harmful (or helpful) to men, women, and anyone else who steps into the political ring. This is what news organizations do.

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Jason Grenn

I have never tried to get Suzanne fired from a job, contacted her advertisers in an attempt to get them to stop advertising on her blog, or criticized her appearance. Sadly, Suzanne has resorted to all three of these tactics against me. It’s unfortunate that some people have had to read these horrible and baseless accusations against me. I believe that Suzanne’s attacks say far more about her than they do about me. If you have any questions or concerns about this subject, please reach out to me at jeff@alaskalandmine.com.

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Marna Sanford

Keep on keeping on.

Jeff, I genuinely like you and respect you as a person and a writer. Although we skew a little differently politically you have always been friendly, outgoing and honest. Keep up the good work!

Ivan

Let’s just say this… Suzanne doesn’t ever write anything that’s really true and authentic. She is motivated almost entirely by partisanship and personal animosity. Which isn’t a very karmically positive combination.

Sabrena Combs

Haters gonna hate, y’all.