AG says it doesn't matter if 'Our Fair Share' broke law, oil tax hike goes to ballot - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, October 21, 2021
HomePoliticsAG says it doesn’t matter if ‘Our Fair Share’ broke law, oil tax hike goes to ballot

AG says it doesn’t matter if ‘Our Fair Share’ broke law, oil tax hike goes to ballot

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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.

[Read the ballot language summarizing the new tax.]

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:

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Wow. Here I thought the ‘supremes’ were out of line. Ignoring the law should not be an option for this pos AG. If I remember right, he is a holdover from the walker administration. If one didn’t know that, it’s sure to be known now. Fire this leftist ahole and get someone that will do the job apolitically, without the leftist bent. Disgrace to his office and the rule of law. Disservice to his office, Alaskans and doubt or dispute of every legal opinion he represents. He must be angling for a seat with the ‘supremes’ (birds of a feather).
    It’s a waste of “legal resources” alright. It would uncover the illegal means of forcing the “fair share” tax to the ballot when it should be in the dumpster.

    • No, unfortunately, he’s a Dunleavy appointee.

      • Art,
        Clarkson may be a Dunleavy appointee but he was an integral part of the Walker admin. Being an associate/partner of Brena makes Clarkson part of the liberal cabal under Walker.

        • Speaking of which, where is Walker now? Not a peep from him since Byron Mallott was caught diddling a youngster. Who voted these a$$wholes into office?

  • 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. This paragraph is all about free speech and what will be done or not done….but the government can and should prevail if it would take the test to show that the government’s interest outweighs the individual. For instance, why wouldn’t it, when the change of past and present and in the future the individual is harmed by the amount of royalties to a person or community or is put in eminent danger of poverty to a household or a community or lack of protection in the community by government technical resources or other resources that the monetary resources would or would have prevented if it had been changed eons ago and at the beginning of the program distribution. The AG said, “forget it, “ because he didn’t want to be bothered to explain and it would take up his time to do so. Regardless, he works for the people that put the governor by election in his job and he, the AG is a secondary and legal representative of the issue at hand by that election to look after the interests of the people and the government of the State of Alaska.. so, its an attitude adjustment on his part of the important areas of free speech and the benefit to “we the people.”

  • Really? One illegal act in our lives can ruin us, and the courts used to say ignorance of the law was no excuse.
    Now illegal acts can spoil the whole initiative? Ummm, what is our governance based on??

  • The more I think about this, the more irate it makes me. For the AG to say that, without the decision on legality of the petition, it’s “good enough” for him and the issue can proceed, is ridiculous. He’s not the judge and jury authorized to that make that decision. He’s a lawyer. And it appears, a leftist lawyer. That’s communist tactics. Take the left’s word because you are one of them? What if an innocent man charged with murder, was convicted on “good enough” evidence? No investigation. No following the legal procedure. Nothing but the prosecutors opinion of “good enough”. BS. The hue and cry against this piece of garbage should be heard throughout Alaska. This “lawyer” and his “opinion” should be discarded in the daily dumpster in Juneau. Casts even more doubt on the phrase “Liberty and Justice for all”.

    • Ben, Judges don’t always follow the letter of the law. Sometimes they do what they want and if it isn’t too big a deal, they get away with it time and time again.

  • Whether one is for or against the initiative, that AG has got to go. Now.

  • who would of thought Clarkson was a leftist? The guy that helped draft the 1998 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The guy Dunleavy chose for his strong conservative christian views. His legal opinions on banning abortion and breaking the unions.
    Clarkson did cite a legal precedent for his decision. Maybe he just sees the writing on the wall. Working for Dunleavy could be a short term job. Might have to get the team of Brena Bell and Clarkson back together.

    • Leo,
      Clarkson is not a leftist, he is just getting tired of taking the advice of the GOP and then loosing in court.
      Independent thought is important now more than ever…maybe Republicans should just take his advice and deal with it?
      You know the oil cartel will toss a few million to media and television to fight this campaign.
      It is better for the economy to let this initiative go to a vote…in more ways than one!

  • Now maybe you can understand what happens to Alaska Natives in Alaska’s courts. For Natives, to simply be accused is often “proof” of guilt.

  • So, the AG wants to have the power to decide which laws should and shouldn’t be followed, depending on how he feels or which way the political wind blows. All laws are written because there is, or has been, the potential for fraud in a process. What he does not discuss were the signatures gathered outside of Alaska by Alaska “residents” living outside. Anytime a sitting AG discounts following the law, he should be fired.

  • “otherwise valid signatures on “mail in ballots” should not be invalidated solely because some people impersonated registered voters”. There, fixed it for you Mr. AG

  • With an opinion like this, it almost seems like some peoples 1st Amendment Rights are valued more than others to our Attorney General.

  • Well, why not?

    This is the same reasoning that allowed Liiisa Nerkowsky to get enough votes in her write in campaign.

    The AG owes us all a list of what laws may be broken without ramification.

    • Pretty simple; if you’re in the Ruling Class, don’t worry about laws, if you’re in the ruled class, worry about everything.

  • Lazy law. Now you can buy a petition.

    • Been doing that for a long time now every since JFK bought an election.

  • This should come as no surprise.
    Recall the successful Great Alaska LeDoux Vote Experiment, ask why it’s still successful, realize the oil-tax hike initiative could very well pass because of it.
    What we have is: (a) state and local governments forcing their economies into recession just because they can,
    (b) former Governor Walker’s secret deal(s) with the Communist Chinese (remember the China flu?) undoubtedly edging toward fruition, and last but not least
    (c) a circular firing squad hell bent on killing the goose that lays Alaska’s golden eggs, the very golden eggs enabling our Ruling Class to exist in the style to which they have become entitled.
    Luckily, this insanity is not sustainable.
    If oil-tax hikers get what they want, causing a 1980’s-style crash-exodus in the process, this insanity might fade as our Rulers bail out for greener pastures and richer victims.
    Who knows, maybe we should be thanking our AG, yes?

    • Exactly. I’m looking forward to this initiative passing and couldn’t care less how it got on the ballot. It’s going to be glorious watching this final nail being placed in the coffin of Alaskas economy, especially after this fantastic COVID panic caused crash. If we can whittle down our state to about 300K then our “new normal” of social distancing won’t be hard at all.

      • Not too hard right now with our 1 person per 10 sq.miles average.

    • Last month you quoted Floyd and actually understood the quote, so I have no desire to argue with you…it’s just I don’t understand something. What could possibly motivate OUR state and local governments to purposely cause a recession? If you’re referring to the fact that a tanking economy hurts Trump, well that would be true but not relevant to Alaska. There’s little chance of Trump not winning Alaska, and even if he lost, when has our TWO cents ever mattered in a presidential election? I think you’ve over generalized, and I think someone that can tell “a smile from a veil” should be able to be more precise in their argument. Good day.

      • Antonio,
        Our state and local gov’t are run by the left, except for our Governor. For them, any disruption in the status quo is seen as an opportunity to establish more power and use that power to intimidate citizens into doing what they’re “told”. Economic disaster, along with Wuhan v, fits their MO perfectly. They go for martial law tactics almost immediately and won’t relinquish those emergency powers voluntarily. Notice they’re still wanting to raise taxes on the oil industry. We’ll be lucky to see new oil revenue anytime in the near future with the existing state taxes and the price of oil. They want to make sure production doesn’t resume unless the oil companies pay what they can’t afford. Why don’t these “representatives” want Alaska’s “fair share” of the income produced by out of state fishermen and taken home, with very little benefit to Alaska? There’s more money in oil but it’s based on volume paying royalty that benefits Alaska. Should be the same with the Alaskan fishery resource. Same reasoning to tax (fairly), different resource, different players using Alaska’s resources as a very profitable income stream.
        I think we should make our priority Alaska. We need to get our house back in order before we take on national policies. The most important journey for us starts at home.

        • Yes. We NEED to get OUR house in order, and we need to do it NOW. I’m revising my previous thoughts on the oil industry. The foreign producers did not throttle back production fast enough or hard enough, and are even less likely to develop the will to do so in the future. The tankers piling up on both coasts and in the Gulf are visible signs of this.The State is going to be navigating rocky waters in a raging storm. I had problems with a Commissioner and a Director before COVID, and don’t have the complete faith you seem to have in our captain. I do know we’re sunk if the crew keeps fighting the captain! So, yeah, we need to get our SHIP in order now> Didn’t intend to get all nautical!

  • What’s 50% of zero?
    What’s 75% of zero?
    What’s 100% of zero?


    And that’s what adding any tax burden to companies already laying off and shutting down will yield. The only thing even attempting to add to the burden does at this time is to speed the exodus.

    Bonus question:

    What’s the value of a pipeline with no oil flowing through it?

    • It’s pretty to look at. Still has value.

  • “The Alaska Constitution, Article XI, Section 4, requires that an election be held, even if the (unconstitutional) compensation limit was breached. Must Read Alaska should have reported that the Fair Share Act sponsors vehemently deny the excess compensation allegations made by the plaintiffs who are acting as surrogate for Big Oil and trying to prevent Alaskans from voting.”

  • “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.” He forgot to consider LEGAL signature gathering! Unbelievable that an AG would not uphold the law!

  • The oilies are constantly saying that they lose money if it’s under 40 bucks per barrel. Is anyone checking to see what the percentage of distillates are in the pipeline? Distillates are worth many times more than raw crude. It can be easily separated out at the refinery, and Alaska wouldn’t have a clue.
    In the mining industry it’s called “high-grading”.

  • Intriguing question… What could possibly motivate state and local governments to purposely cause a recession?
    Motivations might be benign or malevolent, as varied as the number of elected and unelected officials who for whatever reason(s) arrogate to themselves the knowledge of what is best for productive Alaskans and authority to enforce their policies on productive Alaskans.
    One or two of these might be manageable, a little hanky-panky is expected from government, like we expect to get sick from flu every winter. Can’t fix it, but can control consequences somewhat…
    Now consider the combinatorial effect of every one of Alaska’s elected and unelected officials and their army of lobbyists, for whatever purpose, each working hard to… do what again? Arrogate to himself the knowledge of what’s best for you and authority to enforce his particular policy on you, from taking your money to wrecking your livelihood while ordering you to wear a silly mask.
    These authorities are people who rationally, freely, knowingly choose and enforce policies which productive Alaskans can see is bad for Americans in general and Alaska’s economy in particular.
    Nightmarish stuff, Antonio! But it’s happening… right, wrong, or indifferent, it’s sustaining Alaska’s recession. That’s not “purposely”?
    So it seems reasonable for productive Alaskans not in the group, not dependent on the group for money and job protection to perceive the threats to their Constitutional and economic freedoms as
    … purposeful, not random, unpredictable, or as Hallmark moments of “aw shucks” goof-ups by well-meaning authorities with their best interests at heart.

    • 🙂 That was definitely more accurate! I now see what you mean. I’ve actually had time to watch our State House and Senate these past couple years. I have naively assumed that certain of our legislators acted the way they did out of sheer arrogance! Guess I thought that we Alaskans were better than those lower 48 people and wouldn’t go stabbing a fellow Alaskan in the back, especially over a few bucks. As you point out, there is “purpose” on some level and it’s not in the best interests of the Alaskans I know!

      • Thank you, Antonio.

  • What’s a waste. Is this AG the one who stood by and did nothing while the governor suspended the 1st Amendment during the Covert Feardemic, and still has unconstitutional mandates in effect. The whole administration is rotten to the core, and not conservative in the least bit. Wolf in sheep’s clothing, this Dunleavy Administration.

  • So, if I want to buy a few votes in the general election will ‘The Division’ shrug their shoulders to protect the rights of the other suckers? I promise to waste “judicial resources” if they don’t.

  • Magnificant Johnson. I suppose you’ll be one of the first to leave, so you won’t care about what we have left. Actually, with your attitude, none of us will be sad to see you go. Believe it or not, many Alaskans do care about the State’s economy, and for that reason, I think saner minds will prevail and this measure will fail.

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