Oil tax signatures were fraudulently gathered, according to new lawsuit

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A group of trade organizations has filed a civil complaint against the Division of Elections over the signatures on the Our Fair Share oil tax increase ballot initiative.

Resource Development Council of Alaska, Alaska Miners Association, Alaska Trucking Association, the Associated General Contractors, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, and the Alaska Support Industry Alliance filed the civil complaint on Friday. Read the lawsuit here:

The allegation is the Our Fair Share proponents hired a company out of Las Vegas to collect the signatures needed for the initiative to appear on a ballot. That company, Advanced Micro Targeting, violated the law by promising signature gatherers that they could expect to get 80 to 100 signatures a day six days a week, and if they did that, they’d get $4,000 a month plus a bonus. They were also compensated with air fare, meals, and hotels.

Alaska law prohibits paying more than $1 per signature on ballot initiatives.

Advanced Micro Targeting is also the subject of a similar lawsuit alleging fraudulent signature gathering in Montana. They have faced lawsuits on local races in other states.

[Read: Montana Green Party ordered to disclose signature costs]

Our Fair Share wants to increase taxes on oil production in Alaska by 200-300 percent. The group is led by the law partner of former Gov. Bill Walker, Robin Brena.

The effort by Brena is another attempt to undo the most recent oil tax reform, SB 21, which passed in 2013, was challenged by Brena in 2014, but was reaffirmed by voters. SB 21 led to an increase in investment in Alaska’s oil patch.

Our Fair Share needed to get 28,501 signatures before Jan. 21, 2020 in order to make the November General Election ballot. They had just 90 days after taking receipt of the petition from the Division of Elections. So they hired Outside signature mercenaries through Advanced Micro Targeting.

Robin Brena reacted immediately on Facebook: “It is not surprising in the least to see the surrogates for the international oil producers standing against Alaskans getting back a fair share of our oil or standing against Alaskans right to vote on it.”

The Alaska Attorney General has in past communications cautioned that the ballot language for this next round of taxation is confusing and could lead to unintended interpretations.

[Read Attorney General Kevin Clarkson’s opinion here]

But evidently the language was good enough for the sponsors of the initiative, which include former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, current State Sen. Tom Begich, former Anchorage Assemblyman Eric Croft, former Gov. Walker deputy chief of staff Marcia Davis, former Rep. Les Gara, U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross, Anchorage Daily News columnist Stephen Haycox, ACLU’s Laura Herman, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, and Sen. Bill Wielechowski.

Read the entire list of sponsors here:Vote-Yes-Petition-SponsorsDownload

15 COMMENTS

  1. The sponsors of this ballot initiative who are still in Public Office need to be voted out and removed from office. They should be charged with sedation by ignoring the State Constitution and the Permanent Fund Division. Taxes like that on any industry will result in the indutry leaving the State.

  2. The Montana complaint was with Montana’s commissioner of political practices, not a lawsuit.

    And the Commissioner tossed the complaint while ordering the Green Party of Montana to disclose funding.

    No finding of any illegal or fraudulent signature gathering.

    A search for more lawsuits by other states against AMT yields nothing, though AMT did sue Intel for anti trust.

    I’d be interested to see any links to other lawsuits by other states against AMT.

  3. The fact that ACLU’s Laura Herman is a sponsor for this is unacceptable.

    From what I read, the ‘purpose’ of the ACLU is that they are supposed to be a non-partisan organization fighting for individual rights.

    Laura joined the Alaska ACLU in 2017, as the Communications Director, making the AK ACLU fully staffed for the first time in it’s 46-year history.

    –ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua A. Decker comments, “I’m really excited that we’re going to be a fully staffed affiliate for the first time in our 46-year history: the work we’re doing is hugely important, both for Alaska and the country, and I’m tremendously proud of all us for working hard to do it.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union is our nation’s guardian of liberty. For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been at the forefront of virtually every major battle for civil liberties and equal justice in this country. Principled and nonpartisan, the ACLU works in the courts, legislatures, and communities to preserve and expand the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

    The ACLU of Alaska, founded in 1971, is one of the 53 state ACLU affiliates that strive to make the Bill of Rights real for everyone and to uphold the promise of the Constitution—because freedom can’t protect itself.– (from ACLU AK website).

    I personally am a target of the ACLU right now.

    Right now, the Alaska Supreme Court Justices are deliberating on a “freedom of speech” case brought by the ACLU on behalf of a Sitnasuak Native Corporation shareholder, Austin Ahmasuk.

    Austin was fined and given a cease and desist order by the State of Alaska Banking and Securities Division for his false/misleading statements that the Nome Nugget Newspaper published to effect the outcome of this private corporation’s election.

    The ACLU has involved themselves with a private corporation’s civil liberties and the shareholders of a private corporation’s Civil Liberties

    They wrongfully argue that freedom of speech is being chilled by the State of Alaska Banking and Securities oversight authority of fair elections.

    The AK ACLU’s is defending unlawful acts of a coalition, who are also employees of the local newspaper, to effect an election by characterizing individuals in a defamatory and false light.

    Now to read that the AK ACLU has become so emboldened that they sponsor an unlawful action to effect a State of Alaska election has to be addressed.

    • Might be worth sharing your information with the IRS, petition them to revoke this ACLU chapter’s non-profit status in light of your facts…

      • Yeah, looks like every legislator would have to resign too under that illogical set of rules.

        What people do on their private time is their own time.

        I”ll believe in your outrage when you call for all the other people with conflicts similar.

  4. The right to petition is a recognized, constitutionally protected liberty- Article 1, Section 6 of the Alaska Constitution.

    The right to initiative petition (and referendum) is also a constitutionally protected liberty.

    The Lt. Gov. has a constitutional requirement to ensure Alaska voters have the right to vote on getting a fair share of our oil wealth, and for the transparency the Fair Share At requires.

    Outside interests, acting through surrogates, want to make false assertions and deny Alaskans their constitutionally protected rights.

    Here is XI, Section 4, in part, that requires an election:

    “An initiative petition may be filed at any time. The lieutenant governor shall prepare a ballot title and proposition summarizing the proposed law, and shall place them on the ballot for the first statewide election held more than one hundred twenty days after adjournment of the legislative session following the filing.”

    So even if the complaint had merit, the election must still go forward- and Alaskan voters can not be denied the right to vote.

  5. A 200-300 percent tax increase on oil production might be good for Alaska.
    .
    If doubling or tripling the payoff to Alaska’s version of a third-world dictatorship makes oil too expensive to produce, it seems reasonable to expect oil companies will stop producing oil until Alaska’s dictatorship is overthrown, replaced with something more user friendly.
    .
    For productive Alaskans, a 200-300 percent tax increase on oil production probably means killing the goose that lays our golden egg
    .
    With a dead goose and no more eggs, productive Alaskans might be annoyed enough to start work on a populist-driven regime change, or in ruder terms, overthrowing the dynasty which our lobbyist-legislator team has become.
    .
    It could happen.

  6. Not only were they over-compensated, the signature gatherers were also lying to people by telling them that the petition was for people to get a larger PFD check, and failed to mention that it was for higher gas taxes. When I asked the petition gatherer to show me the actual petition so I could read it, it clearly said it was to increase gas taxes, yet they were telling people it was for a larger PFD payment. I refused to sign it and called them out on it in front of other people they were trying to solicit. They were gathering signatures under false pretenses. Yes, people should read something before they sign, but we all know that most people don’t. I find it downright irresponsible and unethical for them to lie about their petition for the sake of getting signatures. Their petition should be thrown out.

  7. Petition sponsors are all Lefties, Democrats, and Big Government types. Joe Vogler said it best in 1990. “Bring us $5 dollar oil prices and all of these complainers will move from Alaska. And we will be a better state because of it.”

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