Anchorage

Anchorage Assembly unanimously rejects taking action against member who made controversial statements about Nazi-themed license plates

The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday unanimously voted to indefinitely postpone a resolution against member Jamie Allard that would have publicly acknowledged her recent behavior as “actions and conduct that breach the public trust.”

Allard, who represents Eagle River and Chugiak, came under fire for comments she made on Facebook during a controversy in late January as photos of state-issued vanity license plates reading “FUHRER” and “3REICH” circulated on social media. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy subsequently removed her from the Alaska Human Rights Commission.

During a statement at Tuesday’s meeting, Allard said that she denounces racism and that she did not violate city laws or ethics code. She called the resolution “a pathetic attempt to create division within our community for political gain.”

The resolution against Allard was sponsored by Assembly member Meg Zaletel, who voted to indefinitely postpone it.

Zaletel said that she had searched for a way to censure or discipline Allard, but found that there was no public process laid out in the city’s code or code of ethics, so instead she drafted the resolution.

[State to adjust screening process after controversy over Nazi-themed license plates]

Several Assembly members cited the fact that there is no specific process for censuring or disciplining a member laid out in city code as a reason for voting to indefinitely postpone the resolution.

Member Kameron Perez-Verdia said that the license plates were “clearly hate speech.”

”Any effort to defend that is wrong,” he said. “But I don’t think this is the right process for us to go through, either.”

He said he didn’t know what Allard intended when she wrote the comments about the license plates and also urged the Assembly to develop a stronger code of conduct and a process for holding members accountable.

If passed, the resolution would have made public record a number of accusations against Allard, including blocking or deleting comments from citizens on her social media accounts that she uses to engage the public. It also accused her of making a false statement.

“I could have simply spoken about these offensive comments — which I did — but what shocked me was the total disregard for the responsibilities that we hold to the public around the use of social media, when we do it in our official capacity,” Zaletel said.

Zaletel said that although the resolution did not pass, she would still pursue a review of the ethics code and how members should use social media, an issue that the controversy brought into “stark relief,” she said.

Member Crystal Kennedy moved to postpone the resolution.

The resolution could set the stage for members of the Assembly to launch “never-ending political attacks on each other for whatever it appears to be the offense of the day,” Kennedy said.

It could lead to further divisiveness, distrust from the public and “even more embarrassment for the Assembly as this entire incident already reflects poorly on this Assembly as a whole,” she said.

Kennedy said it would also circumvent other available paths — for citizens to launch complaints with the Board of Ethics and for citizens to initiate a recall campaign.

“The Assembly has no right to interfere with the will of constituents and to disenfranchise voters in that way,” Kennedy said.

Allard, in a statement before the Assembly held the vote, said that there was no violation of the municipal code, ethics rules or law on her part.

“I have always and will continue to unequivocally denounce racism 100%. I have never defended racism in any form, regardless of what fantasy members of this body or the media portray. This is a pathetic attempt to create division within our community for political gain,” she said.

“And in the process, the Assembly is wasting time and municipal resources,” Allard continued. “I think there are tens of thousands of members in our community who would appreciate the body actually doing their job, instead of pushing a hyperpolitical agenda and wasting taxpayer money. The fact is this body is entertaining this nonsense demonstrates how out of touch some are.”

Allard said that none of the comments she has made had anything to do with supporting racism and that they were not made in her official capacity.

“I do not now nor have I ever supported racism in any manner,” Allard said. “And just because Miss Zaletel says it doesn’t make it true. I ask Miss Zaletel to stop her fixation on me, and to please focus on her constituents. Thank you.”

The resolution, which listed multiple accusations against Allard, also sought to acknowledge that there is not a process for publicly filing an ethics complaint against an Assembly member with Anchorage’s ethics board.

Complaints against members lodged with the ethics board must be confidential and members of the public were demanding a public disciplinary process, Zaletel said during an interview last week.

During public testimony before the Assembly voted, members of the public both criticized and spoke in support of Allard.

One testifier criticized the Assembly for its treatment of the public during periods of public testimony and defended Allard. The woman said she was baffled by the interpretation of Allard’s statements and the comments were “explicitly and simply about the values of free speech upon which our country is built.”

“Nothing she said was hateful. Nothing she said suggested she supported the beliefs supposedly held by the owners of the license plates,” the woman said. “She made no apologies for Nazis or racism.”

Another person expressed dismay and anger over Allard’s Facebook comments about the license plates and said that the plates were explicit Nazi references.

“The excuses made for Nazi terminology from a sitting Assembly member who is supposed to represent all of us — not just those who voted for this person despite what this person thinks — that she is on record as saying, are willfully ignorant, disgusting and indefensible,” he said.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Contact her at egoodykoontz@adn.com.

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