‘Tom Sconce’ scandal: Assembly covers up 590 pages of email trails to a fake person, a secretive blog, and the Anchorage Press

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A massive coverup is underway by the leftist majority of the Anchorage Assembly. And it is likely to go to court.

Nine Assembly members on Tuesday night approved keeping over 590 pages of requested emails by a citizen member of Reclaim Midtown, an activist group concerned with fraud, waste, and abuse of power.

Some of the emails being kept locked up forever are addressed to a fictitious person named “Tom Sconce,” with an email address set up for Sconce at [email protected] Some emails are to or from the leftwing blog The Blue Alaskan and the Anchorage Press, or involve those publications.

Other correspondence are between Assembly Members Chris Constant, Felix Rivera, and Austin Quinn-Davidson to a D.C. advocacy lawyer who had neither a letter of engagement or contract with the Assembly nor a license to practice law in Alaska. Those emails are being kept secret under the claim of “attorney-client privilege.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Anchorage Assembly went into executive session for two hours, and when they emerged, on a vote of 9-0 they denied allowing citizen Russell Biggs the ability to appeal their decision to black out reams and reams of correspondence between certain members on the Assembly, as well as former acting mayor Quinn-Davidson. Assembly members Jamie Allard and John Weddleton left the room, rather than voting, since the Assembly’s attorney Dean Gates could not adequately explain to them what they were voting on.

Those believed to be involved in the coverup include Assemblyman Chris Constant, Assemblyman Felix Rivera, Assemblywoman Austin Quinn-Davidson, and Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar. It’s not clear if Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel, Assemblyman Pete Petersen, and Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance were part of the communications that are now being hidden from the public.

Biggs has argued that the documents “were excessively and unlawfully redacted contrary to Anchorage Municipal Code and state law requirements for transparency of public records.”

It appears that the Assembly’s Attorney Dean Gates is involved in the cover-up, as he struggled to explain the rationale during the public meeting.

Of note, the Anchorage Press was last year awarded a $70,000 sole source contract by the Assembly to do Covid-19 outreach.

BACKGROUND

On April 28, 2021, Biggs filed Public Records Request 2021-11, seeking emails to and from the accounts of: All current Assembly members using these search terms. “Tom Sconce,” “[email protected],” “Blue Alaskan,” and “Anchorage Press.” The date ranges for the emails requested were Jan. 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021.

A batch of the records were made available to Biggs in July. A second batch was not made available until Dec. 17, but when they were sent to Biggs, over 590 pages were redacted, many of those redacted in full. There were no “to” or “from” showing, no dates, no subject lines, and no page numbers. What they sent to Biggs were blank pages.

On Dec. 30, Biggs appealed the heavily redacted disclosures to the mayor on six different bases:

  1. No “slips” were provided to him. These are logs saying what is being redacted that are required by AMC 3.90.060(A).
  2. Casey Pick, one of the people involved in the emails, is an attorney from outside the state acting as a consultant, not an attorney, and the communication is not privileged.
  3. Many of the redactions include “to and from” information so there is no way to know if they are actually communications with an attorney.
  4. The applicable municipal law on attorney client privilege is AMC 3.90.040(A)which only applies to legal questions concerning pending or actual litigation.
  5. Biggs asked for communications referencing specific names and a specific email address. “I find it hard to believe an email mentioning any of these is a communication for the purpose of providing legal advice,” Biggs said.
  6. AMC 3.90.010 adopts a public policy favoring “full disclosure” and Biggs believes any claim of privilege as to these specific records deviates from this policy by making privilege claims on an overly broad basis.

On Jan, 12, The Municipal Attorney Patrick Bergt determined the appeal should go to the Assembly, not the mayor. Biggs then e-mailed his appeal request to Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance on Jan. 13.

LaFrance set the appeal for the Feb. 1 meeting, but Biggs was out of the country on vacation, and had limited communication at that point. He asked it be delayed to a later time so he could return. The Assembly leftist majority refused.

In a letter from his attorney, Biggs said he had been given only 14 hours to formulate a response after waiting for many months for the documents he requested.

“Mr. Gates, Assembly Counsel, first provided a privilege log on January 27, 2022. That is nine months after the original request was made. Mr. Biggs is presently out of Alaska, on vacation. He has not had a chance to review the privilege log, compare it to the documents, or consult counsel,” Biggs’ lawyer wrote.

Gates wrote to Biggs that he could provide a statement by noon on Jan. 28. The letter giving Biggs a deadline of Jan. 28 was transmitted by e-mail on Jan. 27 at 10:10 pm, giving him just 14 hours of overnight time to formulate his response.

Many of the emails involving Casey Pick, who is counsel to a LGBTQ organization that advises on transgender youth would not be privileged information, because Pick has no contract with the Assembly.

Pick’s LinkedIn profile says she is a “Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs, I help lead our work advancing policies and positions that support LGBTQ youth in crisis by executing the Trevor Project’s advocacy agenda on the federal, state, and local level and in the executive, legislative and judicial branches. This role focuses not just on LGBTQ issues, but also on mental health and suicide prevention overall, with a major focus on leading The Trevor Project’s efforts to end conversion therapy.

“My responsibilities include performing in-depth legal research on questions of state and federal law or administrative policy; managing Trevor’s amicus brief filings; drafting state and federal legislation; and being on-call for rapid-response analysis of new or amended legislation in the states or Congress.”

Assemblyman Chris Constant’s statement on his emails with Casey Pick.

It is likely that the gay members of the Assembly — Constant, Rivera, Quinn-Davidson (then as acting mayor) and possibly two others were using Pick to advise them on AO 2021-65, the ordinance involving conversion therapy bans for youth with gender identify confusion. That controversial ordinance was the subject of much debate in the summer of 2021, when the emails were being sent. It may be also the case that only Constant was using Pick to advise him, as evidenced in his comments in the video clip above.

What’s also becoming more clear is that certain Assembly members are hiding their involvement with a leftwing blog, The Blue Alaskan, which they have been feeding information to for months. The identity of the owner and publisher of The Blue Alaskan is a secret, but insiders believe Chris Constant, Forrest Dunbar, Felix Rivera, and Austin Quinn-Davidson have an arrangement with the blog to use it as a way to shape their message. Such communications to the media are not privileged information and the redactions of those pages would likely be found illegal by a court. Unless, of course, Bill Falsey is involved. He is the former city manager and city attorney who has a contract with the Assembly to work on land issues, and more recently to defend the Assembly in a separation of powers issue.

Biggs’ attorney Sam Severin wrote that the attorney-client privilege may not be appropriately asserted in the case of Pick. “The privilege log states that the e-mails are between members of the Assembly, Mr. Gates, and ‘legal consultants.’ It is unclear what a legal consultant is and who the legal consultants are. The information is likely not privileged. Alaska law speaks of ‘attorneys,’ not legal consultants. At least one federal circuit court has ruled that ‘Hiring lawyers to do consultants’ work does not bring a privilege into play.'”

Severin continued, “For example, the very first e-mail is between Christopher Constant and Casey Pick. Mr. Gates is not on the e-mail, so the privilege would only apply if Pick is an attorney, if Pick is rendering legal advice, or ‘professional legal services,’ and if Mr. Constant is Pick’s client.

“The cornerstone of a democracy is the ability of its people to question, investigate and monitor the government. Free access to public records is a central building block of our constitutional framework enabling citizen participation in monitoring the machinations of the republic. Conversely, the hallmark of totalitarianism is secrecy and the foundation of tyranny is ignorance.”

The redactions are so thorough, there is no ability to tell at all why certain members of the council are corresponding with an attorney, Severin argued.

“The titles should not be redacted. There may be an argument to redact some titles if they contain thoughts or mental impressions, but it is not possible to evaluate whether that is the case,” he wrote.

“Some, such as page 21, 29, 37, 60, do not even contain the names of the recipients or the sender. They are so heavily redacted, it is not possible to even determine what the document is or who sent it. Page 219 is an e-mail from Mr. Gates to unknown recipients. Mr. Biggs cannot evaluate that for whether the privilege was appropriately asserted; neither can the Assembly. Nor can a court. These are but examples,” he wrote.

The Assembly instructed its attorney Gates to answer four of six complaints by Biggs over the redactions. Must Read Alaska filmed and posted the public portion of the unfolding scandal on the MRAK Facebook page on Tuesday night.

76 COMMENTS

  1. If your cause is so righteous, why hide what you are doing?
    .
    This is not difficult. If these communications were pre-decisional, or deliberative, fine. Say so. That the Assembly, and the city attorney did not make that claim, it makes everyone think something is afoot.

  2. This junta must be broken up. As always seems to happen with liberal leadership, that which they accuse others of (lawless administration per C. Constant), is in reality what they are.

  3. Hmmm… This sounds kind of like the same issue Palmer has going on right now. Communists communicating and meeting outside the chambers.

    • I wondered what took so long in the Chewsdee night meeting. At least one voice was trembling more than usual and more dramatic than ever. It ended in a stalemate and hurridly adjourned.

  4. Wow! Now THIS is real investigative journalism! Bravo, Suzanne!
    How much does anyone want to bet that the Anchorage Daily Spews doesn’t touch this story, ever?
    .
    Aside from that, one can only wonder what the slimeballs in the Anchorage ass-embly are trying to hide by blocking all this information and these emails. Truth, honesty and decency do not need to be hidden in the shadows and covered-up by cowards and bullys.
    .
    I bear nothing but ill-will and malice towards Constant, LaFrance, Rivera and Davidson. They are all criminals, sociopaths and utter reprobates, and it is to Anchorage’s everlasting shame that such people of such low moral character were ever elected to public office.
    .
    The Marxist Nine’s war against the citizens of Anchorage marches on.

    • You’ll see nothing but lies and censorship out of ADN. It’s no more than a disgusting leftwing rag at this point.

      • You know what they say about people who make unwarranted assumptions, Chris.
        .
        Aside from that, what would my hypothetical support for Trump mean in the context of this story, anyway?
        .
        If your TDS lasts for four or more years, you should seek professional (psychiatric) help immediately.

      • After spending over 30 million your friends have found no proof of a crime. Julian Assange said the reason he never released any dirt on Trump is because he could not find any. Trump must be the smartest mastermind criminal in history or maybe he hasn’t committed any crimes unlike Biden or Hillary. He lives in your sick mind very well.

    • I’ll put $10 up for it. with-in 1 week…so by 2/10/22. I don’t think they want to, but by then it may be unavoidable. Kind of like the unfolding of the demise of our former illustrious mayor.

  5. …and their pit deepens while the suspence heightens for the 9’s fall into the pit dugout for their enemy. This is absolutely terrible! The fall will be monsterous. What is, is what has to be done if it brings salvation to a city and the embarrassed offenders.

  6. A citizen off the street has more integrity, so help me GOD you all swore your hand on our Bible. GOD knows your evil ways and deeds, I would quit and beg forgiveness immediately. Oath breakers look at what you have done.

  7. Suzanne, a point of clarification please:
    .
    Since the assembly’s vote was apparently 9-0 to block the appeal of Mr. Biggs to release this information, with Jamie Allard and John Weddleton abstaining, does that mean that Crystal Kennedy ALSO voted to block that appeal, in line with the Marxist Nine (minus Weddleton)? I find that hard to believe, as it would be against her character and her voting record in the assembly, which has been in opposotion to almost all (if not all) of the measures favored by the Marxist bloc.

    • Appears that maybe Kennedy has been plying behind the scenes in support the cabal, knowing her voting conservative with usually only Allard and sometimes Weddelton, would never overcome the marxist majority.
      Hope Biggs gets this to court so all the scam can be presented to the public. I suspect there have been some legal violations occurring.

    • Not surprised that Kennedy supported the lawbreakers, she and Weak-kneed Weddleton supported most of the Marxist majority’s BS over the past two years.

      • From all that I have heard and read, Uncle Jimmy, Crystal Kennedy did NOT support the Marxist Nine in almost any of their (anti-charter) moves and votes. And I will say that out of all the assembly members, she was by far the most responsive, the most polite, and the most helpful to me during the whole Covidian fiasco.

  8. Democrats and Rino Republicans have been legalizing crime for hundred years. They allow themselves to commit crimes and pass laws to get away with it.

  9. Anchorage! You better wake up and get rid of these people or else you will face extreme prejudice from their actions and they will get away with it.

      • Since elements of this possible criminal conspiracy appear to have been conducted across state lines, the FBI would be the proper agency to investigate. Unfortunately, the FBI of today exists to protect leftist lawbreakers.

        • I was gonna say that the FBI is run by the leftist democrats and is no longer trustworthy. They are as evil as the CIA.

    • When Bean’s Cafe lost the contract at the Sullivan Arena, I was told at the time that it was for cause and an investigation was underway likely leading to criminal charges. Reclaim Midtown has been the only entity shining any light on this situation. The leadership of Bean’s has actively sought to suppress any coverage which doesn’t portray them in a certain light, both during the term of the contract and after losing it.

  10. Thanks Suzanne for covering this as it will not make the ADN or any other media and it is important for the public to know these dark secrets being undertaken by our assembly members..!! This is unlikely to end well for them once the truth is known….

  11. If Briggs takes to court (hopefully) he needs to set up a GiveSendGo.com account so we can help him offset costs. Its a Christian based crowdfunding site that doesn’t freeze/cancel accounts that are conservative in nature like GoFundMe does.

  12. To everyone commenting on this article.
    .
    Tell your friends and neighbors. Knock on doors. There are five assembly members up for election this cycle. Make sure everyone you can in your district is aware of this, and the rest of what the Assembly is pulling.
    .
    The reason the leftist majority keeps getting elected (or surviving recalls) is because the average resident just does not pay attention. Their life is OK, so if they vote, they are likely to just vote for the person already holding the seat.
    .
    Let them know the statist on the Assembly are NOT working in their best interests in an open and honest manner.

  13. They need to be able to effectively communicate in private, without parties roadblocking their initiatives while they are still in the planning stages. Smart business people do this all the time. Besides, Dan Sullivan wasted money on an accounting program that never worked and Mayor Bronson still hasn’t fixed the port.

    • Frank, you expect what got screwed up over 12 years will be fixed in 10 months? You are smarter than that. If you know of a fix that can be done in that short a time, please let Mayor Bronson know. I won’t hold my breath waiting.

    • Berkowitz spent as much and MORE on the software AND the dock. That door swings both ways. One can agree on a semblance of privacy to conduct the people’s business but, this particular Assembly has proven that they will not work with Bronson on anything and then accuse he and his cabinet of being the law breakers. They’re projecting their deficiencies on others. Classic.

  14. Wow….rule of law, morals and ethics.

    These seem to be foreign concept to the Assembly.

    Get me in for east anchorage…

    I know right from wrong history and law…

  15. The controlling authority isn’t the somewhat restrictive MOA code, but rather the Alaska Public Records Act. Alaska courts have been very unfriendly to governments trying to avoid disclosure absent some very specific statutory protection, and they haven’t been reticent to pierce statutory exclusions when they concluded that it was in the public interest to disclose. For example, AS 39.25.080 confers a very robust exclusion from disclosure to State employee personnel records other than basic “name, rank, and serial number” information. The courts just blew right through that and ordered the release of an employee’s, by that time a former employee, entire personnel record.

    Despite the protestations of a long list of ‘crats and public officers, just having a lawyer in the room won’t give you attorney – client privilege; that privilege is reserved to communications with YOUR attorney necessary to prepare a legal defense. Deliberative privilege, the closest thing Alaska has to the federal Executive Privilege isn’t very robust and doesn’t survive making a decision; the courts haven’t been kind to it.

    This is simply obstructionism. In order to defeat the communists’ claims of privilege, the requestor is going to have to retain private counsel to go before a Superior Court judge who probably hates Republicans and go line by line through the information for which they’re claiming privilege. That will take a lot of time and money, and, of course, that is the whole idea.

    • OTOH, neither the Assembly nor the Clerk own the servers Muni e-mail resides upon. The Mayor can release everything unredacted if he wants to and ask for forgiveness afterwards. Would save the taxpayers a lot of money. I’d do the release. Make sure the e-mails are out there and then announce it. Cheers –

      • I’d have done it pre-emptively if I had that much control over the IT weenies. From what I’ve seen, at least in my day political management had more control over the State workforce than MOA management does, but we did have “no-go” zones where at best a directive was considered a suggestion and they’d have to talk to the union to see if they could comply.

  16. Maybe not a surprise, but where is Binkley’s ADN on this. If the assembly can restrict information for anyone, then that means newspapers. I am sure that even ADN will eventually need some information like this.

    Future Assembly using this tactic could just eliminate the possibility.

    Puts the entire Freedom of Information into question.

  17. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain, the surname “SCONCE” is English: possibly a nickname from Middle English skaunce , scans meaning ‘trick, deception, joke, jest’.
    However, there is still some debate on this interpretation as many modern day experts in English Etymology believe that the surname was most likely a nickname associated with “the village idiot”…

    • Yes, Frank, how dare he try to hold public serpants accountable!
      The gall! The nerve!
      .
      Can’t lowly peons like Mr. Biggs just accept the actions of their betters in government, do as their told, shut up and obey?

      • Truly.
        Whole pages redacted so not even the names or page numbers are visible? Must be pretty bad if you’re trying to prevent names from being known.

  18. I would like to say, “truth is better than fiction” or “You can’t make this stuff up”. We’ll see how this plays out though!

  19. We better get control of voting rights! I don’t believe these people were voted into office. Marxists are taking over every major city in the U.S. and Juneau missed the bullet of being moved to Willow by wording in the next election regarding the cost of moving the seat of government, causing confusion and being voted down. This is definitely important, but we need a constant input by those citizens on the voting rights committee!

  20. More like the Assembly is wasting MOA resources hiding their actions and forcing this to court. Maybe the assembly should be held personally liable for such cover ups, not the property tax payers….

  21. Suzanne, if they are using @anchorageak.gov e-mail addresses how could any of this be redacted? I could understand if they were private e-mail addresses, but they are on the clock, yes?

    • Yes, they are redacting all “to” and “from” and “subject” and “date” — everything. You can run some of these sheets through your copier as if they are virgin paper — there’s nothing on them at all. -sd

  22. looks like the ADN couldn’t ignore it maybe because of the AK press involvement(trying to kneecap the competition for ad revs???) (wild speculation) pretty one sided with constance little editorials and they didn’t make it their top story so they’re probably trying to bury it, but 590 pages of ”attorney client privilege” is hard to ignore especially in the midst of the assembly and Austin the hut wasting and probably stealing that cares act money

  23. One of the reasons we have multiple LGBTQWTF members on the Assembly is that persuasion simply made no difference to voters, which is the correct position.

    Yet this last week 2 Assembly actions (or outrages based on your point of view) – Constant’s floppy wrist complaint and this issue (coordinating about their opposition to conversion therapy) are entirely based on the LGBTQWTF worldview. Looks like the Assembly majority led by the inestimable Chris Constant is doing its level best to turn it into an issue.

    They really aren’t gonna like playing under their new rules. Cheers –

  24. There is one Judge and lawgiver they will never be able to hide from nor bribe and control. Until that day however the people of Anchorage will have to sort this out or go down in corruption.

  25. Paging Tom Sconce

    Almost 600 pages redacted to reveal
    Absolutely nothing from the Biggs’ appeal
    The leftist nine had nothing to say
    Nary an effort for their position to sway
    Makes one wonder what is the big deal

    Using a faked Google email account
    And 600 blank pages, quite an amount
    So much info the nine want to cull
    But finding their attorney-client privilege is null
    A slap in our face; so tantamount

    Is Blue Alaskan complicit as some would posit?
    Along with the Press but what is the profit? 
    Some say it’s to do with the alphabet queers
    And how towards trans the young might be steered
    Time for Tom Sconce to come out of the closet

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