Dunleavy to appeal case of bloggers vs. governor - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, March 5, 2021
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Dunleavy to appeal case of bloggers vs. governor

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Gov. Mike Dunleavy has notified the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that he will appeal the decision of a federal judge who said Dunleavy must put specific political writers on his press notification list and notify them of any opportunity he has for group meetings with the media.

The case pits the First Amendment rights of the governor against the news-gathering rights of independent media, such as those who run blogs. In this instance, it’s a media and entertainment limited liability corporation owned by Jeff Landfield, Cale Green, Paxson Woelber and Allison Hovanec. No one outside the corporation knows who funds the operation, but that may become discoverable if the lawsuit proceeds and the governor’s attorney convinces a court that the group is not actually independent media.

That case may put the group’s side work in peril. Green is the campaign manager for Bill Evans for Mayor, and Paxson Woelber does design work for many political clients, including having been the designer for the Dunleavy for Governor campaign in 2018, when he created a series of iconic signs and logos for the governor. Landfield also takes money to run campaigns, as recently as the last election cycle, and occasionally runs for office himself, most recently during the last election cycle. The issue of them being political entities, now trying to appear as independent media, becomes relevant for discovery.

Like the Alaska Landmine, The Midnight Sun AK blog is run by a registered lobbyist and Democrat campaign strategist and manager — Jim Lottsfeldt of Lottsfeldt Strategies. Other political blogs in Alaska are also run by partisan interests. Must Read Alaska is a conservative blog whose owner does not run campaigns on the side.

Judge Josh Kindred, a President Trump appointee who serves on the United States District Court, ordered the governor to include the Alaska Landmine LLC in press briefing notices and in press conferences. The State may view this as an infringement on the political free speech of the governor, by forcing him to give audience to anyone who starts a publication of any weight.

“The balance of equities tips in Plaintiffs’ favor as the requested relief—to add Mr. Landfield’s email address to a media distribution notification list that he has been on before—is not onerous, and, without this email notification, Plaintiffs may not learn of scheduled press conferences in time to participate. The Court finds generally that allowing Plaintiffs to attend press conferences so that they can report to the public is in the public interest,” Kindred wrote.

“Therefore, it is ORDERED that Defendants include Plaintiffs on the email distribution list of members of the “traditional media” in the sense that phrase is used by Defendants, when Defendants invite journalists to gubernatorial press conferences and other press events.”

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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

  • Boy, we waste a lot of energy with these silly kerfuffles.
    This does raise a significant issue concerning “press briefings”.
    If you do a cattle call to the traditional media, I don’t see how you can restrict anybody that wants to attend. If the Governor limits access to someone, he is essentially a propagandist of sorts – directing the message. I think the court decision is pretty clear the hurdle remains high to restrict information or access.
    The solution for Dunleavy is to change the method of message delivery. Take only written questions, Produce a powerpoint presentation, etc. instead of the traditional standing behind the microphone and lectern and facing the cameras and reporters.
    Why worry about a political opponent learning the same thing that you just presented to the press?

    • The takeaway I got was that the method of notification (email) weighed more than formal press credentials. Now, if the Governor only appeared at scheduled pressers, perhaps there would have been a different answer from the court? Not sure how that works with the public’s business being….well, public. In theory.

  • Landfield is an oddball as he has been known to do some journalism (was it Campbell Lake I’m thinking of?). But he’s also known to do satire, and as the article states, run for public office.

    Having said that, what’s the big deal with allowing bloggers to be on a list?

  • Suzanne-are you on the press notification list and are you notified of any opportunity the Governor has for group meetings with the media?

    If not you should.

      • So would this case only be looking to ban bloggers with alternative political affiliation from those in office?
        Sounds like this appeal is a blatant attempt at censorship & a waste of Alaskan government money & employee time.

      • So, are you bothered that Landfield and company openly work in politics, while you slink around in Florida throwing shade on your former State?

          • Best of luck here Suzanne.

          • Except your husband has had a job there in Florida for years according to reports. Is that inaccurate? Do you actually still live in Alaska?

          • Looks like you may have picked up a troll, Suzanne, who has no class. Maybe just cut her out of this forum like the malignant glob of ick that she obviously is. Best of luck in your treatment. We’ll be praying for you. – Moose

          • Suzanne,
            Our prayers are with you!
            Say, can you please publish your mailing address again so we can mail checks to your ALASKAN address?
            Thanks, and keep up the good work.
            P.S. Good on you Billy Boy Yankee!

        • Not at all. Maybe you people will finally get your head out of your ass and do something to save your state instead of letting it go down the toilet.

          • I wouldn’t let her neuter my whipped pup. and if anyhow every once in a while you get a troll that comes through here and then load a whole bunch of crap? It’s like we’re in the hell did these people come from and what took them so long? Did they just move in from Portland or what?

        • Jayne,
          Thank you for giving Suzanne an opportunity to tell her readers about her personal life. I regret however that I do not understand your assertion that Suzanne is “throwing shade” on her former State? Which State? Alaska? Oregon? I say this because I have never known Suzanne to criticize or show contempt for Alaska.

          I can attest that when I mail checks to Must Read Alaska, it is to an Anchorage Alaska Address, and not one in Florida.

          BTW, why accuse Suzanne of being a “slink”, are you jealous of her? Jealous because of how adroitly she pursues her craft ? Jealous of her inner and outer beauty? Please explain, after all many of us MRAK readers are philistine’s and unable to comprehend subtle accusations.

          • Yeah it was a cheap shot for sure while our editor in chief is down here in Florida getting help. I haven’t been able to find out too much about the troll other than see some sort of a assistant veterinarian. She crossed the line.

  • Well, he can invite them. I wouldn’t bother speaking with them.

  • Why waste Alaskan resources for this? Are we not facing a huge deficit? Didn’t this Governor run on being a fiscal conservative? The 2022 election can’t get here soon enough.

  • I don’t know much about journalism, and what I might have thought I knew 20 years ago is certainly not true today. But by any measure except owning a printing press Must Read Alaska meets all the same tests that the Anchorage Daily News meets. And I am not certain that the Daily News actually owns a printing press; they may rent one or contract the printing. Radio and TV stations own no presses either of course. This Landmine and Midnight Sun do not meet any of the tests. The Landmine and Midnight Sun people are not credentialed; no background in journalism nor any effort to cover a story. To some degree they are in the protection racket. I think it is worthwhile for government to seek a bright line from the courts, but I wouldn’t bet a lot that the courts will do a logical and useful job of it.

  • Who’s advising Dunleavy here, what a dumb road to do down. These political types surround themselves with like minded fast talking slow thinkers, and that’s where their problems start………….

  • This governor needs to quit wasting our money in these petty pi$$ing contests and get to work!

  • Gotta love discovery!

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