The Alaska Department of Law is investigating an assistant attorney general after The Guardian published a story alleging he has espoused racist and antisemitic views on social media for years under a pseudonym.
The Guardian said it had identified Matthias Cicotte as the person behind a Twitter account using the handle @jreubenciark.
“An investigation is ongoing,” said Grace Lee, a spokeswoman for the department, on Wednesday.
Lee would not answer whether Cicotte is working or suspended during the course of the investigation, saying the issue is a confidential personnel matter. He has been with the Department of Law since 2012, she said.
Cicotte did not respond to emails and phone calls for this story, nor did he respond to the Guardian.
The Guardian said “anti-fascist researchers” initially identified the account as belonging to a state attorney and a Guardian investigation “confirmed and augmented” the ownership.
“Since-deleted tweets archived by anti-fascists reveal that he advocated various extreme positions including the summary imprisonment of Black Lives Matter protesters; vigilante violence against leftwing groups; and a punishment of execution for acts including performing gender reassignment surgery,” the story said.
Some of the tweets promoted “Deseret Nationalism,” a loosely defined right-wing Mormon movement, the story said.
The Guardian story said that after the Department of Law was presented with information in the article last week, Deputy Attorney General Cori Mills wrote: “The department of law takes the allegations raised here seriously, and we uphold the dignity and respect of all individuals and ask that all of our employees do the same ... Having just learned about this late last week, we are gathering information and conducting a review. Since this involves personnel issues, we are very limited in our ability to comment further.”
The ACLU of Alaska said state employees have the right to free speech, but questioned whether Cicotte’s alleged statements influenced his work.
“It isn’t the government’s job to police speech made in a person’s private life or improperly use it as a justification for firing, retaliating, or taking other action against an employee,” spokeswoman Megan Edge said in an email. “However, the statements revealed by this report make us question the extent to which these bigoted ideas are reflected in Cicotte’s professional conduct, given his role and involvement in cases where the civil rights of incarcerated people are at issue.”
Cicotte was first admitted to practice law in Alaska in 2008, after graduating from Brigham Young University’s law school, according to Alaska Bar Association records. He represents the Department of Corrections in litigation against the state, including in civil rights cases brought by inmates and advocates.