Update, 1:30 p.m.: Anchorage Daily News reporter James Brooks got additional information on the arrangement, confirming that Alaskans for Prosperity is, in fact, hosting the events (somewhere in the range of $10,000). Despite the private meeting language, Ryan McKee, the Alaska director of AFP told Brooks, “By no means are we going to be selectively choosing who’s attending and who’s not,” but that registration is required because space at the events is very limited.
On Monday, Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy announced that he’d be taking his highly unpopular budget on the road to drum up support for his PFD-first spending proposal with stops in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai, Nome and Mat-Su.
But today it’s not just his overlooking of Southeast Alaska that’s raising questions about his road show.
That’s because five of the events are hosted not by the governor but by far-right conservative group Americans for Prosperity’s Alaska branch, a fact left out of Dunleavy’s announcement. Americans for Prosperity’s sign up page for the events also includes a series of conditions for attendance.
The issue was first uncovered by Alaska Landmine editor Jeff Landfield in a tweet today: “Regarding @GovDunleavy’s statewide roadshow on the budget – what is not being reported or said by Gov. is that it’s all sponsored by Americans for Prosperity – AK. They even paid for the venues! Why no love?”
He provides a link to the Americans for Prosperity’s website that sure enough provides the details of the events, along with a description that diverges from what the governor announced on Monday.
The chief issue being raised is that the events have a hefty set of conditions for attendance. They also don’t appear to be that public.
“This is a private, policy focused event dedicated to discussing Americans for Prosperity’s issues,” explains the event descriptions. “As an express condition of admittance to the event, attendees are required to abide by and agree to the following terms.”
Update: As detailed in the update above, these restrictions were described as a “boilerplate.”
Those terms include:
- Registering ahead of the event and providing valid identification for each attendee
- No signage, political materials or large bags will be allowed
- You have to “irrevocably consent and authorize AFP and its affiliates, employees, related companies, and contractors, to record, film, photograph, broadcast, or otherwise capture during the event and related events your likeness, image, voice, or any other indicia of identity in any media whatsoever and to distribute, use, broadcast, or disseminate into perpetuity such media for any purpose whatsoever without any further approval from or any compensation of any kind to you.”
- Any of those images of you “constitute AFP’s sole property, and AFP will have the right to use your likeness, image, voice, or other indicia of identity, including, but not limited to, the right to produce, publicly perform, transmit, exhibit, publicly display, print, reproduce, televise, broadcast, transfer, modify, distribute, create derivative works of, and otherwise use for any lawful purpose, in whole or in part, in any location throughout the world through any means or medium or format without limitation, any Subject Matter, all without prior inspection or further consent or approval by the undersigned of the finished product(s) or of such use, together with irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide and royalty-free rights, title and interest in and to any and all results and proceeds from any such use.”
- Oh, and you’ll also be expressly prohibited from recording or transmitting any portion of the meeting with Alaska’s governor without express permission from AFP.
- If you’re unwilling or unable to comply with the above terms “you may be denied admission to or be asked to leave the event.”
The governor’s administration announced the meetings under the title “A Statewide Discussion for a Permanent Fiscal Plan,” while the Americans for Prosperity group titles them as “AFP Presents: Fortifying Alaska’s Future” with the following description:
“Join Americans for Prosperity-Alaska as they host guest speakers and a panel discussion on why Alaska must face its fiscal reality and implement reforms to curb government’s habit of overspending. Speakers will include experts from the governor’s administration to explain his budget proposal, as well as panelists that will explain how a spending cap and a Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment can help put Alaska on the path to prosperity!”
The speaker list provided by AFP also differs from the one released by the governor. It includes Jeff Crank, the regional director of AFP, and Bethany Marcum, the executive director of the Alaska Policy Forum.
The governor’s speaker list included Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin and Deputy Chief of Staff Jeremy Price, who just so happens to be the former state director of AFP. The Americans for Prosperity website says Price launched the Alaska chapter in 2014.
Americans for Prosperity is the influential conservative political group funded by the Koch Brothers.
As blogger Dermot Cole pointed out: “One of these versions of reality is false.”
If you’re willing to sign over rights to your likeness and agree to not record the meetings, here’s the schedule as distributed by the governor’s office:
Kenai, AK – Monday, March 25, 2019
Anchorage, AK – Tuesday, March 26, 2019
- 10am – Talk of Alaska
- 6pm – Public Event at 49th State Brewery
Nome, AK – Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Fairbanks, AK – Thursday, March 28, 2019
- 8am – Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce (which has a $5 listening fee and limited seating)
- 6pm – Public Event at Westmark Hotel
Mat-Su, AK – Friday, March 29, 2019
While the governor’s townhall schedule may not be open to everyone, the House Majority Coalition’s don’t have any such requirements for attendance. They’ll kick off this Friday in Juneau and continue through the weekend.
House Speaker Bryce Edgmon described the events as an opportunity for people to get more information directly from the Legislature as they consider monumental changes to how the state government operates.
“Cuts and efficiencies are possible and necessary, but these proposed reductions would have significant impacts on elders and youth, rural and urban residents, and every facet of our economy,” said House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. “Because of this stark reality, all budget decisions must be informed by input from people across our state.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly the House plan has been met with opposition from party-line Republicans, who’ve complained about it as a waste of money. Rep. Lance Pruitt, whose wife has a communications contract with the Dunleavy administration, hinted at Dunleavy’s roadshow last week, suggesting that Democrats are just running scared.
“I think that they’re nervous hearing that the governor’s going to start talking in public,” he said. “This is a way to try to mitigate that.”
Here’s the House’s town hall schedule:
- JUNEAU: Friday, March 22 from 5-8 p.m. in Room 519 of the Alaska State Capitol, 120 4th Street, Juneau
- KETCHIKAN: Saturday, March 23 from 12-3 p.m. in Ted Ferry Civic Center, 888 Venentia Avenue, Ketchikan
- MAT-SU: Saturday, March 23 from 12-4 p.m. at the Mat-Su LIO, 600 E. Railroad Avenue, Wasilla
- BETHEL: Saturday, March 23 from 2-5 p.m. at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center, 401 Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway, Bethel
- KENAI: Saturday, March 23 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Soldotna Sports Center, 538 Arena Avenue, Soldotna
- ANCHORAGE: Sunday, March 24 from 2-5 p.m. at the Anchorage LIO, 1500 W. Benson Boulevard, Anchorage
- SITKA: Sunday, March 24 from 2-5 p.m. at Centennial Hall Assembly Chambers, 330 Harbor Drive, Sitka
- FAIRBANKS: Sunday, March 24 from 2-5 p.m. at the Fairbanks LIO, 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308, Fairbanks