The Attorney General of Alaska said it is not important that signatures were gathered illegally on the oil tax initiative that is heading for the November ballot. What matters is that enough people signed the petition, and that is good enough for the State of Alaska.
Alaska law prohibits ballot proponents from paying signature gatherers more that $1 per signature.
In the case of Vote Yes on Our Fair Share, a lawsuit claims that the Robin Brena-funded group hired an Outside signature-gathering company, which paid people handsomely to travel to Alaska and get the required signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Brena has been pushing for higher oil taxes for a decade and is the law partner of former Gov. Bill Walker. Attorney General Kevin Clarkson is also a former law partner of Brena.
The lawsuit, brought by a consortium of business groups in Alaska, including the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, named the State Division of Elections, the Lieutenant Governor, and the sponsors of the ballot measure known as 19OGTX.
The groups allege that the petition circulators working for an out-of-state company Advanced Micro Targeting provided false affidavits in support of the petition booklets, and therefore the booklets are invalid, because the signature gathering company broke the law to get the signatures.
In layman’s terms, the signature-gathering company lied, the lawsuit alleges. It also appears that money went to another signature gathering company and was possibly moved to Advanced Micro Targeting for the purpose of beefing up the bonuses for signature gatherers.
The Attorney General’s position is that it’s a waste of judicial resources to take the case forward, because “otherwise valid signatures should not be invalidated solely because of petition circulators’ violation of the payment limitation in AS 15.45.l10(c). Although the Division shares the plaintiffs’ concern with the possible violation of Alaska’s limitation on the payment of signature gatherers, a remedy that would thwart voters’ constitutional right to propose and enact initiatives through no fault of their own is inappropriate. The plaintiffs correctly note that this litigation will have to proceed on an extremely expedited schedule in order for the factual issues to be resolved at a trial before the initiative appears on the ballot in November.”
The AG has asked that the case be dismissed and states that signature gathering is a core part of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Read the state’s response to the lawsuit at this link: