The campaign for Republican front-runner Mike Dunleavy is in hot water after it was caught using video footage of a Fairbanks woman of Inupiaq heritage dancing in a campaign ad without the permission of the woman or the group that filmed it.
Marjorie Tahbone, who lives in Fairbanks, told KTOO in a story published Monday evening that she became aware of it after friends forwarded the ad to her. In a Facebook post that circulated over the weekend, Tahbone said the ad “tokenized” her in an attempt to disingenuously show Alaska Native support for the Republican.
“I DO NOT support this candidate and I wish to be removed from his ad,” she wrote.” Why do people think it is ok to use other people’s faces without permission and only for their personal gain.”
In an interview with KTOO, Tahbone said using her image without her permission was a “huge mistake.”
“It’s just my face and it’s obviously my face,” she said. “And I’m obviously a brown person and I’m obviously Native in there. And so, the issue of them using me as an image to portray the support of the Native community, I wasn’t comfortable with.”
Other social media users took notice. Some contacted the Dunleavy campaign to express their concern with the ad while another explained why the campaign’s use of the footage was problematic. Here’s a write up by Twitter user @b0ndman.
The ad was since taken down and has been reposted without the footage of Tahbone. Dunleavy campaign manager Brett Huber told KTOO that use of clip–which was produced by AJ+ whose senior producer also told KTOO wouldn’t have granted permission for the ad–was normal for campaign ads, but said they were responsive to her concerns.
“We saw the comments posted on Facebook, so we took swift action to remove the image,” he said. “I sent a message to Marjorie explaining to her that while the footage was obtained and used legally, we didn’t want anybody included in an ad that they didn’t support.”
Huber went on to explain that Dunleavy’s wife, Rose, is Alaska Native, adding that Dunleavy is “colorblind and he’s gender-blind.”