This screenshot of a Facebook post by political blogger Jeff Landfield shows his original 2014 image at right and the cropped version published by Dunleavy for Alaska at left. (Screenshot)

This screenshot of a Facebook post by political blogger Jeff Landfield shows his original 2014 image at right and the cropped version published by Dunleavy for Alaska at left. (Screenshot)

Democratic Anchorage senator declaims pro-Dunleavy ads

Bill Wielechowski issues cease-and-desist letter against independent group

A Democratic senator from Anchorage is asking a campaign backing Republican governor candidate Mike Dunleavy to stop using his voice and picture in pro-Dunleavy ads.

In a press release Monday, Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said the Dunleavy for Alaska independent expenditure group “never asked my permission to use my name or image in its ads. In fact, I’ve specifically told them they do not have my permission.”

“It’s deceptive. It’s against my wishes,” Wielechowski said when reached by phone.

The image and an audio clip remains on the front page of the group’s website, and in a press release, the group says it will not take it down.

In the Alaska Senate, Wielechowski has been the most ardent legislative defender of the state’s traditional formula for distributing the Permanent Fund Dividends. For years, he has unsuccessfully attempted to garner legislative support for a constitutional amendment preserving the dividend.

In 2016, he led a charge to overturn Gov. Bill Walker’s partial veto of the dividend, and after the Legislature declined to override that veto, he sued the state, arguing that the veto was unconstitutional.

The Alaska Supreme Court disagreed with the interpretation offered by Wielechowski and upheld Walker’s veto.

In the legislative session that followed, Dunleavy joined Wielechowski in support of constitutional protections for the dividend. Before the veto, Dunleavy had consistently voted in opposition.

“He came around to my view. For five years, he didn’t have my view,” Wielechowski said, adding that he came to appreciate Dunleavy’s support in the Senate.

In an interview earlier this year with KFQD-AM’s Dave Stieren, Wielechowski talked about that support and said they agreed on the Permanent Fund and “a few other issues.”

In the interview, which took place after Dunleavy’s resignation from the Senate, Wielechowski said he missed having Dunleavy in Juneau.

Clips from that interview are being used in pro-Dunleavy ads.

“I was specifically asked, is this an endorsement of Mike Dunleavy? I laughed at that,” Wielechowski said by phone. “I like Mike Dunleavy. I like him personally … but I don’t support him, and in my book, that’s the end of the story.”

Some ads incorporate a 2014 picture of Dunleavy, Wielechowski and Alaska political blogger Jeff Landfield. Until 4 p.m. Monday, the ad used on the group’s website had cropped Landfield to exclude him and move Dunleavy and Wielechowski closer together.

“For me, it’s funny,” Landfield said by phone.

In a press release following Wielechowski’s request, Dunleavy for Alaska manager Terre Gales called Wielechowski’s statements a “ridiculous media stunt” and said the group will continue to run its ads in accordance with the law.

“Dunleavy for Alaska legal counsel will respond to Mr. Wielechowski, and any attempts on his part to interfere with DFA’s media contracts will be met with swift legal action,” the group’s statement read.

Gales did not respond to an email or a phone call seeking comment.

Matt Singer, an attorney representing Dunleavy for Alaska, said, “This is a publicity stunt. It’s not a serious legal issue.”

The nearest precedent may be the 2014 U.S. Senate campaign featuring Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan. In that race, the Begich campaign ran advertisements featuring the likeness of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and touted his bipartisan cooperation with Murkowski.

Murkowski responded by appearing in an ad promoting Sullivan, then held a press conference to denounce Begich’s ads.

“It seems like the same play,” Singer said. “It’s just not a serious issue. That’s my perspective.”

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, speaks to his amendment to the state’s operating budget to inflation-proof the Alaska Permanent Fund in the Senate at the Capitol on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file)

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, speaks to his amendment to the state’s operating budget to inflation-proof the Alaska Permanent Fund in the Senate at the Capitol on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file)

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

The Homer City Council met with new council members for the first time Oct. 11. The election results were certified during the meeting and council members Shelly Erickson, Donna Aderhold and Jason Davis were sworn in. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
City of Homer 2020 audit shows clean financial records

The City of Homer received a clean audit for the 2020 fiscal… Continue reading

The Homer Election Canvass Board counted the final Homer City Council election ballots Friday, Oct. 8. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Election results certified in municipal elections

Aderhold, Erickson, Davis win Homer City Council; Tupper wins Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, District 9; Daugharty wins Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education, District 8.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Several members of the Alaksa House of Representatives were absent form a floor session Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, but after a quiet first week lawmakers are scheduled to hold committee meetings through the end of the week. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
COVID cases delay Senate

Still slow going.

Most Read