Politics

Group opposed to Alaska oil tax measure files complaint saying proponents aren’t following rules in Facebook ads

The group opposed to a measure seeking to boost taxes on Alaska’s oil industry filed a complaint with Alaska campaign regulators this week, asserting that Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share is violating disclosure requirements on social media advertisements.

In the filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, OneAlaska - Vote No on One asserts that two Facebook ads posted by Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share do not include a disclaimer. Other Facebook ads do not disclose the state of residence of the top three contributors, or a message of approval from the group’s principal member, the complaint asserts.

Robin Brena, the chair of Vote Yes group and its principal member, said the group does not believe it has erred, but it is reviewing the complaint.

The Vote Yes ad disclaimers — included as exhibits in the eight-page complaint — show that the top three contributors, including both Brena and his family-owned real estate firm RSD Properties, are from Anchorage.

However, the disclaimers do not include the state of Alaska in describing their residence.

Vote Yes “is simply ignoring the legal requirements for political communications with regard to its social media campaign,” the eight-page complaint, not counting exhibits, says.

[Spending in Alaska oil tax battle reaches new heights, with more than $17 million raised]

OneAlaska asks the campaign regulators to pull the ads until the issue is resolved, and fine the Fair Share group for the violations.

“Because Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share is a repeat violator of APOC rules, the Commission should punish the misconduct identified in this complaint with the maximum allowable penalty,” the complaint states.

Brena said the complaint is another attempt by opponents of Ballot Measure 1, as the measure is also called, to harass the Fair Share group and distract from the oil tax debate.

[Ballot Measure 1 would change how big oil companies operate in Alaska. Here’s how.]

Brena’s side has prevailed twice at the Alaska Supreme Court, he said.

In August, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision ordering Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer to correct his impartial ballot summary for the proposed tax increase, and in a separate case dismissed a complaint by the the Resource Development Council and other industry groups involving payments to signature-gatherers.

“I think Alaskans should be offended by them trying to disrupt our ability to participate in direct democracy, to engage in fair political speech, and to vote and have our signatures counted,” Brena said.

Kara Moriarty, campaign manager for OneAlaska, said the complaint has nothing to do with those cases.

“It has everything to do with being completely transparent with the public,” she said. “The APOC guidelines are pretty clear.”

“We’re following the guidelines, and we are just asking our opponents to do the same,” she said.


Sponsored