Alaskans for Better Elections has become a repeat litigation group fighting fair-election causes and free speech.
Backed by Outside dark money to prevent Alaskans from reconsidering Ballot Measure 2 – Open Primaries and Ranked Choice Voting, ABE has gone after a second group that opposes this experimental voting system that helped Rep. Mary Peltola become a member of Congress and ensured that Sen. Lisa Murkowski would not have to face a Republican primary.
ABE filed a complaint Monday against Preserve Democracy, the group formed by Kelly Tshibaka earlier this year.
Earlier, ABE had filed several complaints against a different group, Alaskans for Honest Elections, that formed in January to gather signatures and get a repeal of Ballot Measure 2 on the ballot in 2024.
Critics are pointing out that Alaskans for Better Elections is using the Alaska Public Offices Commission, a state agency, as a weapon against free speech. Lawsuits such as this may have a chilling effect on citizens who may wish to engage in the political process.
In its complaint about Kelly Tshibaka, who ran for U.S. Senate and came in second to Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2022, Alaskans for Better Elections says that Tshibaka’s Preserve Democracy is giving unreported “in kind” support to Alaskans for Honest Elections.
Preserve Democracy is also supporting a repeal of Ballot Measure 2 through the legislative process. Tshibaka, at the invitation of a legislative committee, testified once about ranked choice voting.
Alaskans for Better Elections also accuses Tshibaka of acting like a lobbyist, since Preserve Democracy is — ABE’s lawyers speculate — her employer.
As an employee of her own organization, she didn’t register as a lobbyist with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, according to attorneys Scott Kendall and Sam Gottstein.
“Ms. Tshibaka even touted her efforts to lobby for a legislative repeal during a recent interview with the website Must Read Alaska,” the attorneys claimed.
The laws have clear carveouts for citizens to lobby if they keep it under a certain number of hours, but this is a harassment lawsuit from lawyers fully aware of that detail, but that seek to tie up the defendant and the defendant’s money.
Tshibaka only testified for 10 minutes at the request of the committee. She phoned in her testimony.
Ironically, at the same hearing, Alaskans for Better Elections’ employee Juli Lucky also testified about the legislation to repeal. Presumably ABE has run afoul of the same “law” that ABE is claiming Tshibaka violated. Lucky testified twice, once in House State Affairs on HB1 in March, and again on HB 4 in May. In all, she testified for 15 minutes. She also flew down to Juneau to testify in person in March.
The ABE complaint also says that Preserve Democracy “appears to have unlawfully participated in the April 2023 Anchorage Municipal elections without registering or reporting as required by APOC.”
Kendall and Gottstein say that Tshibaka said on the Must Read Alaska Show she was mailing flyers out. The lawyers say that because they did not get the flyers, Tshibaka must have only mailed them to Republicans. They want APOC to look into it.
Kendall, a longtime ally of Sen. Murkowski, even said that since Alaskans for Honest Elections showed up with their petition at an event Tshibaka was speaking at (Edna DeVries’ School of Government in Palmer) that this is proof the two groups are intertwined.
The lawsuit appears to be harassment litigation that asks the Alaska Public Offices Commission to do its homework for the complainants, who speculate through 95 pages of what they think are illegal acts, and say that if APOC investigates and finds out anything more, they are keen to litigate that as well.
Those who wish to help Preserve Democracy fight legal “lawfare” harassment can find out more here.
The entire 95-page complaint by Kendall and Gottstein on behalf of Alaskans for Better Elections, is below: