Jay Hammond's widow upset with ad promoting oil tax cuts

Lisa Demer

JUNEAU -- A new, somewhat mysterious television ad promoting Gov. Sean Parnell's proposed oil tax cuts and comparing him to the late Gov. Jay Hammond has prompted Hammond's widow, Bella, to call for it to stop running.

"No one called me about using Jay's name in that fashion," Bella Hammond said Tuesday evening from the family homestead in Port Alsworth on Lake Clark. "I'm certainly not happy about things done that way."

She said she was annoyed when she saw the ad on television and thought it misappropriated her husband's legacy.

"I don't think he would have appreciated it. I don't think he would have agreed with the governor's proposal."

In the ad, former legislator Glenn Hackney appears on camera, talking first about Hammond's push to create the Alaska Permanent Fund then segueing to Parnell and his controversial oil tax measure. The governor and his supporters say change is needed to halt declining oil production but Democrats, unions and other critics call it a giveaway that could cost the state $1 billion a year or more.

"Gov. Hammond wanted to run on his idea for a permanent fund but the public thought it was a lousy idea," Glenn Hackney says in the ad. "But after he became governor, Jay and the Legislature worked together and the public was convinced that the Permanent Fund was a great idea. That was leadership. Governor Parnell is showing that kind of leadership today."

Companies that most Alaskans have never heard of will create jobs if there's new production, he says in the ad.

Reached at his home in Fairbanks Tuesday evening, Glenn Hackney said he was told Armstrong Oil and Gas Inc., an independent oil company based in Denver, was part of the group behind the ad campaign but he didn't remember who else was involved.

He said his son, political consultant Art Hackney, asked him to appear in the ad because he served in the state Legislature from 1972-80 including when Hammond was governor. Art Hackney did not return telephone and e-mail messages.

The ad doesn't say Hammond would have backed Parnell's push to cut taxes, Glenn Hackney said.

"Nobody is inferring that in the ad to the faintest degree," he said.

According to the Alaska Democratic Party, a group called Resource Full Alaska bought air time to run the ad on two Anchorage television stations.

State records show that the group registered as a nonprofit corporation on Feb. 1 with three directors: Tim McKeever, John Casperson and Karyn Luckett. McKeever was a former aide to and campaign treasurer for the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, and he and Casperson are Seattle-based lawyers with Holmes Weddle & Barcott. Luckett is listed on LinkedIn as a legal coordinator there. Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful Tuesday evening.

Resource Full Alaska's mission is to unite businesses that want resource development and promote their interests, its incorporation papers say.

The governor's office had no part in the ad, Parnell's spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said.

The message is wrong, said Malcolm Roberts, a longtime aide to the late Gov. Wally Hickel who is part of a nonpartisan group called Backbone. That group opposes cuts to oil taxes without public benefits and is against Parnell's proposal.

As far as Roberts remembers, the public wasn't opposed to the Permanent Fund though there was some controversy about the dividend program and whether it would become an entitlement.

The creation of the Permanent Fund is nothing like a cut in oil taxes, Roberts said.

"Absolutely not," he said. "It's absolutely apples and oranges."

Both Bella Hammond and daughter Heidi are speaking out against the ad, Roberts noted.


Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 952-3965.



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