Fritz Pettyjohn: If you don’t like dark money from the Sixteen Thirty Fund meddling in our elections, vote yes on Ballot Measure 1

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By FRITZ PETTYJOHN

Ballot Measure 1 isn’t just about calling a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Alaska Constitution. It’s also about the power of dark money, special interest money. 

“Defend Our Constitution”, the group opposing Ballot Measure 1, is telling voters to fear a convention, because it would be controlled by dark money, special interest money, from the Lower 48.  

This is a blatant lie.

There is no dark money pushing Ballot Measure 1. All the dark money being spent in this referendum is opposing it. Specifically, the notorious leftists at the Sixteen Thirty Fund have contributed $1,851,500. This is two-thirds of the money “Defend Our Constitution” has raised.  They got another $500,000 from the NEA, the outside special interest group.  

In contrast ConventionYES has raised $21,395, all in small donations. Not a dime of dark money.

So is it “game over” for Ballot Measure 1? Normally a campaign being outspent over 100-1 doesn’t have a chance. 

Not so in this case. Look at the APOC report for evidence. The Sixteen Thirty Fund contributed $500,000 on July 29. This was enough to enable Defend our Constitution to outspend its opponents 30-1. But that wasn’t enough of an edge. They needed more money, because not enough Alaskans were being fooled by their campaign of fear and disinformation. 

So at the end of September the NEA and the Sixteen Thirty Fund kicked in an additional $1.8 million.

The great irony of the campaign for Ballot Measure 1 is that if it succeeds, and a convention is called, the power of dark money will be defeated. If you don’t like outside dark money corrupting Alaska politics, vote yes on Ballot Measure 1. By doing so you’re telling the Sixteen Thirty Fund to stay out of our politics.

Ballot Measure 1 will pass if enough voters understand that it’s the only way to protect the Permanent Fund dividend from the legislature. Put the dividend in the Constitution. Take all the politics out of it. Over the last six years Alaskans have witnessed the sorry spectacle of endless legislative squabbling over the dividend. A lot of politicians in Juneau hate the dividend. They think they should spend the money, not the people. The large PFD of 2022 was the result of an unusual alignment in the legislature, one which is not likely to be repeated.  If the people want more such dividends in the future they need to pass Ballot Measure 1.

The campaign for Ballot Measure 1, and a Permanent Permanent Fund Dividend, is in its final stages. ConventionYES doesn’t have, and will not have, the resources to effectively counter the lies and distortions of “Defend Our Constitution.” They’ve got millions of dollars of outside dark money at their disposal.

What ConventionYES does have is the truth, so it has a chance. Its message is compelling, and simple. Vote for your dividend, vote yes on Ballot Measure 1.

It’s up to individual Alaskans to spread this message among their family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. It has to be a classic grass roots movement. It’s the people vs. the powerful, the truth vs. a campaign of lies, the grass roots vs. dark money.

In other words, it’s up to you.

Fritz Pettyjohn served in the Alaska Legislature in the 1980’s.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Feels good to say i have not seen one annoying dark money advertisement attempts at scarying me, It wouldn’t work on me. fear-mongering ads are over dramatic and i tune out drama. More alaskans should tune out drama, the weirdos will have to find some better use to spend its money when it be nice alaskans vote yes and teach the sponser a lesson that money doesn’t buy all.

    .

    • Hahahaha. That’ll be the day. The politicos and elite would pound sand in a tantrum seeing alaskans can
      no longer be
      manipulated, and they vote against the corrupt grain.

  2. Maybe Fritz can offer some insight… should voters blindly trust the fate of their constitutional convention to a state election system which seems so easily compromised by mail-in voting, proprietary Dominion vote-tabulation gear, ballot harvesting, corrupted voter rolls, Zuckerbucks, ballot harvesting, and election “observers” who’ve no clue what they’re observing?
    .
    Fritz got people who know how the operation works, know what to look for, people who can verify that, despite the above, Alaska really has an accurate, verifiable one-man, one-vote electoral system?

  3. It’s hilarious that you are trying to claim that republicans and conservatives don’t take and use dark money in their political campaigns. The Senate just voted on a bill to end the use of dark money. And every single Republican in the Senate voted against it.

    Moreover, you can’t prevent dark money by holding a constitutional convention. Most campaign laws are federal, and to the extent the Republican Party of Alaska wants to use state law to prohibit dark money. All they have to do is pass a statute. No constitutional convention is required.

    The timing of this article is quite funny, though. Because the Alaska Public Offices Commission has scheduled an emergency hearing for this coming Friday to investigate evidence that Dunleavey’s campaign has been flouting Alaska’s election laws. You’d have to be pretty naive to believe Dunleavey or Alaska’s republicans will ever do anything to stop the use of dark money in political campaigns, since they use it all the time.

    • Agree with you on this one.

      Money is speech according to the Supremes and they’re not wrong as a First Amendment principle.

      Both political parties are rife with it.

      The job of the voter is to sort the wheat from the chaff on their own behalf.

      Judgement is better placed on the gullible voter than those who spend big money on political campaigns.

    • Rick: You aren’t wrong about all politicians using dark money. They will take any money they can get. It would be dumb of them not to depending on what strings are attached. But as a voter, we shouldn’t like seeing a race to see who can collect the most dark money.

      So now that we are in agreement I hope you see how the ballot measure 2 campaign was an extremely deceptive ad campaign full of brazen hypocrisy and manipulation. The entire ballot came from out of state and was funded by out of state money that was made obscure and then ran ads stating “do you want to stop dark money. Vote yes.”

      And you can do all the whataboutism you want, if the election laws somehow limited out of state obscure funding it would be a huge disadvantage to democrats in this state, at this time. You know it too. That’s why you are saying “you do it too” because you ultimately don’t want to see it go away.

      • Rick: and this ad campaign against the convention is no different. They state fears of taking gun rights away when the interest groups that are funding the “no” campaign actually would like to see some gun rights taken away. It’s like a guy coming to buy your car slipping your mechanic a few bills to tell you your car is junk. That’s not ethical campaigning and my YouTube is chalk full of those ads because of all the dark out of state money funding that side. Why do you think the ends justify the means just because Republicans do it too?

        It would be nice to see each politician from either party representing well informed, not deceived, Alaskans that voted for them.

        However I don’t believe there is a silver bullet answer to reducing the outside influence. So it’s up to us to know better and bad mouth those that seek to deceive us.

  4. The amount of people ready to vote No because they’re scared of what might happen is why Alaska can’t have nice things.

    Nothing great ever happens without risk. But far too many of our people are afraid to risk being great.

  5. Since a constitutional convention will open *everything* to change, I’d like to read/hear from someone EXACTLY how we canchange things that are detrimental to Alaska, and keep the positive the original architects created.

    Be specific.

    • Have you ever read Dune? There is a phrase often used which applies to this thinking. “Fear is the mind killer”.

      Yes, everything in theory is on the table. But it’s silly to assume every single will be addressed. Why should it?

      More, there is the whole voting and approval process. Even if some delegate (which we choose) wants to declare moose hunting illegal or require polygamy, it has to be passed. Which requires a majority vote by the delegates. Which should be watched closely by the citizens telling them something is stupid and drop it.

      Plus we can’t overrule the US Constitution. We can’t declare an AK Purge and once a year start shooting people.

      Take a deep breath. Let go of your fear. They web search AK Constitutional Convention rules.

      • Fear might be a mind killer according to a science fiction book, but failure to take the past 20 years of Alaska politics/corruption into account would be a freedom killer

    • OK.
      1. Elect delegates to the Constitutional Convention that are reasonable, and not willing to change every section of the Constitution without justification.
      2. Communicate with those delegates. Make your opinion known.
      3. When the changes are released for popular vote, get involved, talk to people, ring doorbells. Make sure the average person understands what the change is, and why voting for/against it is a good idea in your opinion.
      .
      See, simple. Government of the people, by the people.

    • KM to my understanding it isn’t a “let’s start from scratch” event. Instead delegates make suggestions on the specific items that need work. Then they will be discussed and either accepted or rejected by the delegates. Finally the different recommendations will be presented to the voters for final approval and only IF approved by the voters will the constitution be changed. Can you see the majority of Alaskans vote for more taxes, or restricting gun rights or fishing rights……? No me either.
      There are a few things that do need attention:
      Placing the PFD original formula in the constitution
      Rescinding the Blaine amendment and have education dollars follow the child (it has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2020 Espinoza vs Montana)
      Change the way judges are appointed, by having the governor appoint a candidate and the state senate confirm.

  6. SCOTUS approved dark money when they ruled corporations were people. The Alaska Constitution guarantees privacy. If Fritz does not like privacy rights he will be welcomed in Alabama.

    • Frank all this talk about privacy rights is just ridiculous. Grow up! Say “abortion” and be honest about what the topic of your gripe really is.

      • A Taxpayer: thank you for clarifying. He has said before that he cares about the state constitution and privacy but it sincerely confused me to see him accusing conservatives of not caring about those things. And Frank just does drive by comments so he has never clarified.

        I agree, it’s real cowardly to avoid using the word abortion. It’s not reproductive rights. Or healthcare rights. It’s specifically about abortion and the fact they can’t even come out and say it means they know they are pushing for something that is universally understood, even in their circles, as unsavory.

      • The right to privacy is one of the legal bases underpinning the right to abortion in Alaska. But it has also been recognized as the basis of many other rights.

        It’s hard to argue with the basic concept that people should be free from the government interfering in their private, personal life when they are doing no harm to others. The right to privacy was the basis for the Alaska Supreme Court decision in the 1970s that the state could not criminalize the personal consumption of small amounts of marijuana in one’s home, as long as they stayed in their home while under the intoxicating effects of the drug. It has also been cited, by the U.S. Supreme Court, as the basis for it’s decisions that states cannot prohibit the purchase and use of contraceptives, regulate first trimester abortions, ban interracial marriages, ban gay marriages, or criminalize homosexuality. But there is no express right to privacy in the US Constitution, so these decisions were based on an implied right to privacy that the Court foundin the US Constitution. The recent decision overturning Roe vs Wade calls into question the existence of such an implied right of privacy, and thus the validity of Supreme Court decisions protecting rights to use contraceptives or marry who you want to marry.

        Historically, before these Supreme Court decisions, many states criminalized what legislators considered immoral behavior, such as homosexuality, interracial marriage, adultery, gay marriage, and selling contraceptives. The drafters of Alaska’s Constitution were well aware of this historic tendency of some state legislatures to legislate on matters that intruded into the private lives of citizens.

        So it is a good thing that we have an express right to privacy in the Alaska Constitution. The idea that we should be free from state regulation of matters that are personal and private is the foundation for libertarianism. It is a libertarian concept. The conservative religious folks want to strip the right to privacy out of our Constitution, so they can legislate their morality on everyone else. It’s one of the reasons I will vote “No” on holding a Constitutional Convention.

        • Rick, I beg to differ. Conservative minded folks like their privacy just like anyone else. What I object to is to use of the broad based euphemism “privacy rights” to talk about abortion. Frank’s comment made that very clear, when he mentioned Alabama, where the people of that state decided on the side of the unborn. Even most libertarians draw the line at unbridled medical intervention to end a pregnancy. The current push for late term pregnancy termination on demand (no medical condition with mom) even at 40 weeks, without ANY regard for the unborn child in my opinion is ghoulish, cruel and cold. It devalues life. It is noteworthy that the mothers of the people demanding abortion at all costs, made a different choice.

        • Rick, one other point. I appreciate your write-up on privacy rights. The one thing throughout all the abortion/privacy rights debate, is the lack of mention of the ONE right that IS in the US constitution front and center. It is the inalienable right to LIFE. You create a life should it not have the inalienable right to live it? No implied right to privacy right should be able to take that away.

        • Rick: Nice try. One piece that brings your whole jenga tower down: “when they are doing no harm to others”. Whether or not abortion affects the life of someone else is the core of the debate and you skipped right past it to equate an abortion to consensual sex and marriage, smoking weed, etc etc. Backup and first define when the life of another human begins. It’s definitely not when a female first makes eggs, I think we both agree. And I don’t believe it is only when a baby passes through the birth canal. If your position is that it is up to the mom to decide, then when is it not up to the mom to decide? If the umbilical cord is still attached, is it ok for the mom to club it? Rumor has it that in California it is legal to do that. Is it when the fetus is outside of the womb, but not when the doctor can reach in and pull it out? That’s silly. This is why the constitution does not define it. This isn’t a privacy issue. This is an issue of abortion affecting the life of another or not. Imagine someone making your argument about slavery because they didn’t think a slave counted as a human life. “What I do to black africans in the privacy of my own home is none of your business. I know you think blacks are human, but that is up to me decide because many people see it differently.” You can make the argument that a fetus isn’t a human life, but you better make that argument instead of the argument for privacy you just made. And a libertarian is all about everything should be legal as long as it doesn’t affect another human, so a libertarian would also need to define when another human life begins before they could take a position on abortion that aligns with libertarianism.

          So this isn’t about privacy or libertarianism. The debate is about abortion affecting another human life or not and it always has been. Make that argument. That’s the core of the debate. Moving past it to make specious arguments about privacy doesn’t get us anywhere.

  7. If #1 does pass, you can be sure that dark money will flood into the state. What should be a citizens’ function would quickly be swamped with outside activists who are dedicated to telling us how to live our lives.

    • Dark money is already flooding the state. Has been for years. Ballot Measure 2 did nothing to slow the flow, despite claims it would.
      .
      There is no law, no matter how well written that cannot be bypassed. There is no way to stop dark money.
      .
      But… to defeat it with a yes vote on measure one will tell those using dark money that we are aware of it. It will set them back, and perhaps reduce its effectiveness. Might be for just a short time, but it is something.

    • Dark money has already flowed into the State that is the whole reason the stupid RCV passed because to many voters were listening to the Vote Yes on RCV. The only wat to stop dark money in the State is to make it illegal for groups to fund campaigns outside the State. No changes can be made to the State Consistutuion that go against the US Consistutuion i.e. removing our 2A rights that the commercials like to talk about.

    • ….and that is further support for voting “No” on 1. Despite the relatively condescending tone of folks saying we shouldn’t be fearful, the reality is that the people who will participate in the Con-con are the same people who: argued not to rank either Nick or Sarah and therefore gave us Ms. Peltola; that elected the Los Anchorage assembly that wants to dismantle the structure of Anchorage government; that elected multiple State representatives and an identifiable segment of State senators that ran on one platform (primarily Republican) and upon election, promptly took actions contrary to that platform.
      Oh, the other thing? The same folks that will be selecting delegates and presumably adding their opinions on what Constitutional provisions to change and how to make those changes….and that same group of people approved Ranked Choice Voting. It is prudence, and not irrational fear, that suggests that the Alaska Constitution should not be exposed to changes that would be controlled by the current electorate.

    • FUD alert! Dark money is already flooding the state. The outside activists are already here, and you sound like one of them. FUD alert!

  8. The original Alaska delegates who wrote our State Constitution inserted the language providing for a Constitutional convention every ten years in order to protect individual Alaskans from an entrenched and conflicted legislature acting against the general populace’s best interests. Just look at the political sleezebags who oppose it & ask yourselves why they oppose it. Everything that can be proposed in a convention will be voted on by the citizens of Alaska. Currently, almost all legislation today is determined in the backrooms of Juneau by special interests and lobbyists. Want term limits, judicial reform and a full statutory PFD? Vote YES for a Constitutional Convention, I am!

  9. While being trained as a poll worker at the Shipcreek building for the 2016 election, pamphlets were handed out to all election workers. This was done inside the building, in the large ‘training’ room. Therefore, reasonable to believe, the state and municipal election officials approved the distribution of the pamphlets.
    The information, I recall, was regarding voting and the process we were involved with. The pamphlet was an explanation of the 1630 Fund. I blew it off becuase, as a poll worker, I took on the task as a non-partisan participant in the voting process.
    Why were Alaska officials sanctioning a group with a biased agenda presenting their viewpoint i.e. pamphlet to hopefully ‘non-partisan’ poll workers?
    When returning to the Shipcreek building on election night, the precinct chair and I were intercepted in the parking lot by a twenty something person directing us into the building. I can not assume to know all Alaskans, but the New England accent of the worker(?) In the parking lot stood out. Just a coincidence–where does the 1630 Fund originate?

  10. There is no guarantee that a constitutional convention will address the PFD at all, or, if so, in a way that most Alaskans would want. Nor should anyone assume a convention will strengthen as opposed to weaken privacy or gun rights or parental rights or any other issue the people who vote for it care about.

    Separately, liberal dark money groups spent heavily running ads in favor of Republican candidates in the most recent primaries nationwide – the Republican candidates that they believed would fare the worst against their preferred Democratic candidates.

    Why assume that the purpose of the ads is to oppose a constitutional convention? Given that a majority of Alaskan voters tend to vote Republican, perhaps the idea is to convince these voters that they should vote for a convention because these dark money groups are running ads against one. Maybe they see that as their best chance to get what they want.

    “Oh please, oh please, don’t throw me in the briar patch,” cried the wily rabbit…

    We could end up with a bunch of delegates akin to the Anchorage Assembly. Who knows what would be created? There is nothing wrong with our State Constitution as-is and I plan to vote NO.

    • Akent – The National Education Association and public sector unions are big monetary interests that are opposed to a Constitutional Convention. I wonder why that is?

      • Running ads in opposition doesn’t mean they really oppose having a convention.

        Maybe they want a convention and feel the best way to get a majority of Alaskans to vote for one is to run ads against it (classic reverse psychology).

        Have read several articles in support of a convention written by people whose only rationale for thinking we need one is because liberal dark money groups are running ads against it, so it seems to be working on some people.

        • AKent too highbrow! The average non-involved voter does not dig too deep into the motivations of an ad. There is a reason these ads run 24/7. Repetition will spark a memory for the voter in the booth. To count on voters reacting and voting in the opposite manner, would be a huge gamble for people, who want the status quo to continue.

  11. Amen to that! Of course we need to worry if they open up that can of worms.
    Just look at the past 20 years of political swing in Alaska, and where the influence came from for the most part. – Ranked choice voting, Don Young replaced by a democrat, Pretend Republicans like Louise Stutes and Kelly Merrick,…..the list goes on and on.
    So why would anybody assume that there would a constitutional convention that would be devoid of outside influence. Todays political climate does nothing to reassure that the will of the majority of the people would be implemented, quite the opposite. Then we’re stuck with the outcome for at least 10 years. 10 years of further pandering and corruption that would make any future hope of repairing the damage all but impossible. Re: Ballot Measure 2.

  12. ~Preamble~
    We the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land, in order to secure and transmit to succeeding generations our heritage of political, civil, and religious liberty within the Union of States, do ordain and establish this constitution for the State of Alaska.
    .
    Based on the examples we have witnessed recently in all levels of our federal, state and local representation by those who were voted into office by the same people who would then select our con-con representatives, can we really believe that the resulting discussions could even move past agreement on this most humble beginning to our constitution as it stands? Are they grateful to God? To our founders? Do they want to secure our political, civil, and religious liberty? Doesn’t appear so. It’s not fear, my friends. It’s logic and reason. Is the status quo less dangerous to the commies than a convention? Other than statements implying it must be, else why would they throw so many dollars at it, I have heard no convincing arguements. I can’t explain it, but it makes no sense. Perhaps reverse psychology on a grande scale. Still voting NAY.

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