Paul Jenkins: Oil tax attacks were below the belt

Paul Jenkins

Watching the vicious attack on former Gov. Tony Knowles by people willing to stoop to anything to repeal badly needed oil tax reform is enough to give anybody the creeps. The question no longer is: What will these people do? The question now is: What will they not do?

Knowles' detractors shrink from truth as they would the plague, and it is easy to believe they simply suffer from some form of debilitating, collective mental illness -- even beyond that normally associated with liberalism. Not much else explains the insanity.

The "Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway" organization -- yes, even its name is a lie; there is no oil tax giveaway -- cannot separate honest disagreement on the issues from the slimy art of character assassination.

It sank so low as to fire off a strikingly malicious email titled, "They have the millions ... We have the truth!" It wrongly accused Knowles, a former Anchorage assemblyman and mayor, and two-term Democratic governor, of being a "paid shill" for repeal opponents -- and much, much worse.

There is no need to repeat the odious slurs. They have been reported elsewhere, but know this: None of it was true. It was pure fantasy disseminated by an organization led by Democrats who -- you have to love this -- profess to be Knowles' "friends." Lucky him.

Once caught, the group of prominent leftists stumbled all over themselves to apologize, laying off the slurs on a "young, aggressive volunteer" whose work -- Surprise! -- was, indeed, checked by the campaign's manager, or so it was reported, before it was sent out. Notably, the email went out anyway.

The "apology" was signed by the group's chairman, Vic Fischer, and Jack Roderick and Chancy Croft. Fischer, the attack email said, had approved its message. He says he did not.

So, after the embarrassing mea culpa, one might think the rest of the big-government die-hards supporting the repeal effort that would shove Alaska over a fiscal cliff might take a moment to reflect on zealotry, to wonder if flirting with libel or slander is a good and proper thing. Not on your life. The usual vacuous, vicious commenters were their usual vacuous, vicious selves in the comments following the story about the missive.

Check out their back-biting yourself and wonder, as I do, how these zealots, so wed to tinfoil cap conspiracies, so devoid of decency, or courage or character, live with themselves, and you can hope, as I do, that they never, never breed. Ever.

Unsatisfied with smearing Knowles, the group also posted in its email a photo of former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom, one of those leading the effort against the repeal referendum.

The picture of a smiling Mystrom carries the mocking caption, "Would you buy a used car from this man?" in a childish attempt to denigrate him.

Mystrom, a long-time Alaskan and Republican, is a businessman, former Anchorage assemblyman and two-term mayor. He has been heavily involved in organizations from the Boys and Girls Club, to the United Way, to the University of Alaska Foundation. He championed the City of Lights beautification and long has advocated bringing the Olympic Winter Games to Anchorage.

What a terrible guy for working more than 40 years to better this city. His crime, according to the misanthropes backing the repeal? He deigns to disagree with them.

All of this falls into a familiar pattern with these folks.

First, the half-truth. For instance, they were trumpeting all the good economic news -- jobs and investment, and such -- contained in the recent McDowell Group economic impact study was because of the failed Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share oil tax they want reinstated. Nonsense. Without the reform now in place to stimulate new and added oil production -- which fuels state government and the economy -- Alaska's goose is cooked.

If nobody buys the half-truth, then comes the outright lie. You have heard them: the "giveaway." The conspiracies. It's our oil. Everything was just hunky-dory under ACES, we should go back.

If none of that works, there is character assassination, just as they did with Knowles and Mystrom and anybody else, from anywhere on the political spectrum, who disagrees with them.

The question remains: What will they not do?

Paul Jenkins is editor of the, a division of Porcaro Communications, which is performing services for the "Vote No on 1" anti-repeal effort.