Politics

Group pushing for Anchorage Assembly member’s recall receives $75,000 from paving company co-owner

A group supporting the recall of Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel is planning a significant mail, radio and door-to-door campaign using money contributed from the co-owner of an Anchorage paving company.

According to campaign finance disclosures published this week, McKenna Brothers Paving co-owner Marc McKenna donated $75,000 on Sept. 29 to a third-party group supporting Zaletel’s removal from office.

McKenna’s donation was to Recall Meg, a registered group chaired by Andy Kriner. Kriner is the owner of Kriner’s Diner, which defied previous COVID-19 restrictions in Anchorage.

It’s the largest single donation to either side of the recall election. The money will be used to buy radio ads and mailed flyers coordinated by Axiom Strategies, the company that employs Alaska Republican strategist Art Hackney.

One of the flyers sent to District 4 voters emphasizes the size of a national labor union’s $70,000 donation to a group working to keep Zaletel in office.

The donation and spending arrive as Midtown voters are beginning to fill out and return ballots in the special by-mail recall election. Ballots must be returned by Oct. 26.

The official reason for the recall is proponents’ claim that Zaletel violated a city COVID-19 emergency order by participating in an Assembly meeting last year that exceeded capacity limits. Recall supporters, however, have been more likely to criticize her for other actions including supporting COVID-19 restrictions, like her introduction of the new mask emergency ordinance in Anchorage.

An employee answering phones at McKenna Brothers Paving said Marc McKenna was not available by phone, and he did not respond to an emailed request for an interview or a message left at the company.

Before this year, public records show McKenna was an infrequent contributor to political campaigns. He gave $500 to the unsuccessful 2014 mayoral campaign of Dan Coffey and gave the same amount to Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s campaign earlier this year.

Donations to third-party organizations are not limited, and during this year’s mayoral election, McKenna Brothers contributed almost $85,000 in non-monetary donations to a third-party group called Conservatives for Bronson. Company trucks carried Bronson signs during the campaign.

Since the election, Zaletel and Bronson have frequently clashed on issues affecting the city.

In addition to McKenna’s donation, the Recall Meg group received a $15,000 donation from James Protzman, an Anchorage business owner, and $5,000 from Diane Louise, a retiree.

Those and other donations give the Recall Meg group $96,200, more than the $70,000 raised by Stand Up for Meg Zaletel, the leading third-party group opposed to the recall.

Both sides’ third-party spending exceeds the amount raised directly by the two campaigns. Through Oct. 9, the campaign to keep Zaletel in office had raised $52,723. The pro-recall campaign had raised $22,763 through Wednesday.

If a majority of the votes favor recall, Zaletel will be removed from office and the Assembly will name a replacement. That person will be subject to election in the spring. If a majority of votes oppose a recall, Zaletel will be up for re-election in the spring.


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