Alaska’s attorney general told employees he would personally pay for them to see “Sound of Freedom,” a film about child trafficking that has also been promoted by conservative Alaska legislators.
“Sound of Freedom,” based on a true story, is about a federal agent who battles child traffickers in Latin America. The movie, financed by a Provo, Utah, group that has produced faith-based films, debuted on July 4 to strong box office numbers and has made more than $41 million.
On Friday, Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor sent an email to the state Department of Law’s more than 100 employees saying he had seen the movie and was “inspired by the message.”
“It would be my pleasure to personally purchase a ticket to ‘Sound of Freedom,’ for any member of the Department of Law who wishes to see the movie,” he said in the email.
Taylor told employees of the department that seeing the movie was “completely voluntary” and said they’d need to view the film off the clock. The email instructs interested employees to reach out to Taylor’s executive assistant to claim the tickets.
In response to questions posed by the Daily News, Taylor said use of his assistant’s state work time was “insignificant” and gifts under $50 are allowable under the state ethics code. Taylor said he wasn’t tracking how many people had taken him up on the offer.
Conservative Alaska elected officials have also promoted the film, holding free showings for the public.
State Rep. Sarah Vance, a Republican from Homer, sponsored a showing of the film on July 6, the Homer News reported. And on Tuesday, House Speaker Cathy Tilton, a Wasilla Republican, and Rep. George Rauscher, a Republican from Sutton, sponsored a free screening of the movie at the Valley Cinema in Wasilla.
Critics of the film contend that the plot hews near to a conspiracy theory held by believers in the QAnon movement that an international global elite is kidnapping children for sexual abuse. The Guardian described the movie as “QAnon adjacent.” The star of the movie, Jim Caviezel, spoke on a podcast about “adrenochrome and organ harvesting,” an apparent reference to a theory that a global network of elites is killing children for their organs.
In an email, Taylor said he “didn’t know much” about QAnon and wasn’t concerned about the star’s statements.
“If I worried about the personal politics/antics of the actors in the movies I see, I’m not sure there would be many movies I could watch,” he said.
Supporters of the film say it has been wrongly politicized and reject attempts to link it to QAnon beliefs.
“I am saddened by the pushback my actions and this film have received,” Taylor wrote. “I would have thought that we could all agree child sex trafficking is an abomination and would applaud any effort to bring this issue to the forefront.”
In the film, young children are kidnapped by strangers as part of a horrifying global sex trafficking enterprise. Much more common in Alaska, experts say, is a scenario in which a teenager with a history of trauma, addiction and homelessness is coerced or forced into sex by a person they know or a family member.
In a March report on trafficking produced by the Governor’s Council on Human and Sex Trafficking, 77% of the clients at MyHouse, a drop-in shelter for homeless youths in Wasilla, who said they’d been trafficked reported trading sex for basic needs.
“Human trafficking survivors are often trafficked by an intimate partner, trusted individual or family member,” the Alaska Institute for Justice wrote in the same report.
Sex trafficking is a genuine problem in Alaska, said Staci Yates, the chair of the Alaska Stop Human Trafficking Alliance, a member of the Governor’s Council on Human and Sex Trafficking and a manager at MyHouse. Yates herself was trafficked at 17, she said. She expects that the plot of the film — an action movie — won’t much resemble the realities of trafficking seen in Alaska.
“This movie won’t depict what trafficking looks like in Alaska, or even in the Lower 48, because this is overseas trafficking,” Yates said. “It will look a little bit different than here.”