BUT GROUP’S FINANCIAL REPORTS SHOW MESSY MONEY TRAIL
The oil tax ballot initiative spearheaded by Robin Brena has exceeded the number of valid signatures it needs to get its question on the ballot — some ballot, at a time still to be determined.
As of Feb. 28, the Alaska Division of Elections posted that 32,378 signatures were validated out of the 36,252 signatures reviewed by the State.
Brena’s group had collected more than 44,000 signatures, turning them in on Jan. 17, 2020. It needed 28,501 of those signatures to be from registered voters from at least 30 of the state’s 40 House districts.
Brena, business partner to former Gov. Bill Walker and long-time oil tax proponent, wrote the “Fair Share” ballot initiative to recalculate taxes on oil companies and undo the reforms of Senate Bill 21, which passed the voters in 2014. Brena is the also primary funder of the initiative.
The Fair Share group used Texas Petition Strategies and paid $43,333 for professional services for the the signatures gathered in Alaska since taking possession of petition booklets in October.
Brena was the source of that $43,333, having contributed the identical amount to the Fair Share group.
The group also has transactions with another Texas company, Advanced Micro Targeting of Dallas, in the amount of $72,500 for signature gathering services.
Brena was also the source of that expenditure, donating that exact amount to his Fair Share group in a separate set of transactions.
Alaska law limits the amount that can be paid to signature gatherers to $1 per signature. With all funds expended to date, the group appears to have spent well over $5 per valid signature, although there’s no evidence the worker-bees with the clipboards were getting more than $1 per name.
‘FAIR SHARE’ APOC REPORT? WHAT A MESS
The campaign finance reporting for the Fair Share group is unclear as to what the group is spending its money on.
Among its several reports filed this year it shows money flowing back and forth between Brena, the Fair Share group, and the two Texas contractors who specialize in signature gathering. The reporting appears to have errors throughout.
More curious is this recent report from February. In it, the Fair Share group (19OGTX) admits it is coordinating signature gathering with the “move the legislature” ballot group (19MALA), as seen in these sample expenditure items.
The 19MALA “Equal Access” group shows no such coordination in its APOC reports, however.
The Fair Share group has filed four conflicting APOC reports in February, some of which make little sense to campaign experts that were asked to review them by Must Read Alaska.
“These people can’t even fill out a simple report telling who they paid what to, and for what purpose, but they want to be in charge of rewriting a tax code that has hundreds of millions of dollars of impact on our state,” commented one of the reviewers. “All of Alaska’s future budget depends on this group that cannot even file a proper financial statement for less than $350,000 in income?”
Overall, the Fair Share group has reported $340,293 in contributions, more than a third of it coming from Brena himself, with much smaller amounts from other oil tax proponents, such as David Gottstein, Robert Waldrop, Ken Alper, and retired Supreme Court Justice Walter Carpeneti.
WHEN WILL IT BE ON THE BALLOT?
While it has not yet been certified by the Division of Elections, the Fair Share measure could be put on a ballot as early as Aug. 18, 2020, the date of the Alaska Primary, although that depends on whether the Legislature gavels out in 90 days, which would trigger that ballot assignment. The 90-day session appears unlikely to many political observers.
The question could also be put on the “next statewide ballot,” which could be a special election for the Recall Dunleavy effort, led by former Gov. Bill Walker cabinet members that are struggling to collect over 71,200 signatures. Under some circumstances, both of these questions could be in the same “special election” either in July or in the fall.
Having both the recall of a governor and an oil tax hike on the same ballot would set up an epic campaign battle for various interests across the state, and would even pit Native corporations against each other. The scenario could have an impact on other political races by capturing all the attention and available funds for campaign efforts.
WHAT DOES THE BALLOT MEASURE PROMISE?
The Fair Share ballot measure would:
- Tax more heavily the legacy North Slope fields that produce a minimum 40,000 barrels daily over the most recent calendar year and 400 million cumulatively;
- Increase government take of oil profits by 62-72%;
- Increase the gross minimum production tax for the larger fields from 4% to 10% and increase the 10% minimum by up to a maximum of 15% for every $5 increase in oil prices above $50 per barrel;
- Eliminate an $8 per barrel tax credit starting at $50 per barrel;
- Add another 15% tax on producers’ profits starting at $50 per barrel of profit.