Briefs: Who is behind the ads aimed at Lisa Murkowski?


Here is a collection of new briefs from around the state:

SEN. MURKOWSKI TARGETED BY ADS, CAMPAIGNS: An organization called the Community Catalyst Action Fund (CCAF), which focuses on universal health care and protecting Obamacare, is targeting Sens. Lisa Murkowski-Alaska, Jeff Flake-Ariz., Susan Collins-Maine, Dean Heller-Nev. and Shelley Moore Capito-W.Va. with a media blitz urging them to vote no on the reform of the Affordable Care Act.

Screen shot of the advertisement targeting Sen. Lisa Murkowski on the upcoming vote to reform Obamacare.

In addition to CCAF, the Indivisible Project is also getting involved with targeting Murkowski, providing a website to encourage citizens to call lawmakers, and providing scripts for them.

However, the most active group is the CCAF, which is supported in part by The Atlantic Philanthropies and focuses on organizing citizens and training them to ask candidates pointed questions about their opinion of Obamacare.

The group seeks to shape the narrative of the debate over health care reform. The ad campaign started Monday and the group plans to spend $1.5 million on trying to convince the targeted lawmakers to vote no on the Republican-sponsored bill to replace Obamacare. CCAF appears to believe that the five senators they are targeting with the ads — including Sen. Murkowski — may be susceptible to left-wing pressure.


CCAF is a left-wing organization run by experienced Democrat operatives. Board members include the Chairman Karen Hicks, of the Civix Strategy Group, who describes herself as having  designed and run national and state based campaigns “that combine a winning strategy with a plan to build lasting power through leadership and skill development.”

Karen Hicks, chair of CCAF, which is targeting Lisa Murkowski to vote no on Obamacare reform.

Hicks has run and held leadership positions on presidential, statewide and local campaigns.  In 2008, she served as a senior advisor to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton with a focus on the early nominating states as Clinton ran for president.

In 2004, Hicks was the field director for the John Kerry Campaign and oversaw the campaign’s $80 million grassroots mobilization effort in the battleground states.

She is vice chair for NARAL Pro Choice New Hampshire.

Also serving on CCAF’s board is Dan McGrath, executive director of Take Action Minnesota. He worked for Progressive Minnesota, as a canvasser and community and political organizer, and became the group’s executive director. He also has a labor organizing background with Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Robert Restuccia is the Fund’s executive director. He is an assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health and was with the organization Health Care for All for over a decade. That group has allied with the Indivisible Project with the “TrumpCare Ten” initiative to target Alaska and nine other states, by pushing scripts out to citizens and providing support for calling senators.

CANNABIS CAFES: The Alaska Marijuana Control Board is looking at options for on-site cannabis use in businesses, such as marijuana cafes. The board meets July 11-14 in Fairbanks.

The control board shelved the project in February, but is once again trying to put sideboards on what would essentially be marijuana taverns.

CHILKAT VALLEY NEWS SOLD: Kyle Clayton, a reporter at the Chilkat Valley News, has bought the paper from owner Tom Morphet. Clayton has reported for the Petersburg Pilot and elsewhere.

A special election to recall Haines Borough Assembly members Morphet, Heather Lende, Tresham Gregg is scheduled for Aug. 15. Citizen Don Turner Jr. alleges that Morphet and Lende were pressuring the police department to provide a police blotter to the Chilkat Valley News newspaper, which Morphet owned and for which Lende wrote. The newspaper is a for-profit business, creating a possible conflict of interest since Morphet had a financial stake in providing readers police news.

Morphet owned the newspaper since 2012, and is staying on to help with the transition. He put the paper up for sale several months ago.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT: Four members of an Ohio family who may be on the Kenai Peninsula now are sought by Ohio authorities in connection with a mass murder.

Photos of George Wagner IV, Edward “Jake” Wagner, George “Billy” Wagner, III, Angela Wagner
George Wagner IV, Edward “Jake” Wagner, George “Billy” Wagner, III, Angela Wagner

An execution-style killing of eight members of a family in Pike County, Ohio happened in April of 2016. George “Billy” Wagner, III, 46, Angela Wagner, 46, George Wagner IV, 25, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 24, are wanted for questioning. Investigators speculate the killings may have been related to marijuana-growing operations, but a child custody dispute may also have been the motive.

The Dayton Daily News reports investigators learned of the family’s location from Pastor Kelly Cinereski of Resurrection Bay Baptist Church in Seward, who said the family attended his son’s church in Kenai on Sunday.