Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced he will host a series of community-focused discussions and meetings called “A Statewide Discussion for a Permanent Fiscal Plan,” which will strive to outline a permanent fiscal plan for Alaska. The first discussion will be held in Kenai.
While it is not disclosed in the state’s press release, Americans For Prosperity-Alaska is hosting the event series, which they call “Fortifying Alaska’s Future.”
Dunleavy’s series of community events comes shortly after the State House Finance Committee decided to host a series of forums across the state addressing residents’ concerns about the budget.
The undisclosed sponsorship was reported by Jeff Landfield, editor of Alaska Landmine, a state-focused political blog, in a tweet on Tuesday.
Portia Noble, an event organizer for Americans for Prosperity — the primary political advocacy group of the David H. Koch and Charles Koch — said the events advertised on the Americans for Prosperity website and the state’s press release are the same events. She confirmed the series of community meetings are being hosted by the advocacy group.
“These presentations will outline our vision for Alaska, take an in-depth look into the direction we’re headed, and further lay our proposals out in the open,” Dunleavy said in the press release. “As we surpass the 60th day of the Legislature, it’s important that Alaskans fully understand where we’re headed.”
Matt Shuckerow, the spokesman for the governor, said the administration has and continues to partner with several different organizations, like the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Policy Forum, Americans for Prosperity and others to organize events for the community.
“We are not event planners,” Shuckerow said.
When explaining why the state didn’t disclose the sponsorship information in the press release, Shuckerow said the state was releasing information in real time and was waiting for specific information to be confirmed before announcing it to the public.
“We wanted to make sure to get the dates out first, while additional information was getting locked in,” Shuckerow said.
The release said locations and times are subject to change.
According to the press release, the governor will attend these public community meetings with the Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, Commissioner of Revenue Bruce Tangeman, Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin and Chief of Staff Jeremy Price.
On the Americans for Prosperity website, the event is advertised as a “private, policy-focused event dedicated to discussing Americans for Prosperity’s issues.” The event information also includes two guest speakers — Jeff Crank, regional director of Americans for Prosperity and Bethany Marcum, executive director of Alaska Policy Forum — who were not included in the state’s press release.
“Join Americans for Prosperity-Alaska as they host guest speakers and a panel discussion on why Alaska must face its fiscal reality and implement reforms to curb government’s habit of overspending,” the Americans for Prosperity online event information reads. “Speakers will include experts from the governor’s administration to explain his budget proposal, as well as panelists that will explain how a spending cap and a Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment can help put Alaska on the path to prosperity.”
Noble and the state’s release say the events are open to the public, but lengthy terms and conditions listed below the Americans for Prosperity’s online event information say all attendees must register themselves and any guests. Event coordinators may also ask guests to present valid identification to enter.
Shuckerow confirmed the events will be open to the public. He said the administration is anticipating large crowds at the events and is encouraging residents to register for the meetings through the Americans for Prosperity website. Noble said registration is not required to attend, but is encouraged.
According to the terms and conditions, “guests who attend the event consent and authorize Americans for Prosperity to record, film, photograph, broadcast or otherwise capture during the event … your likeness, image, voice or any other indicia of identity,” which can be used by the organization.
The terms and conditions also say guests are not allowed to record, reproduce or transmit from the place of performance without specific written permission from Americans for Prosperity. Further, the terms say no signage or candidate stickers, pins, T-shirts or other materials may be worn and no bags larger than purses will be allowed into the event. Attendees who fail to comply with these terms and conditions may be denied access to the meeting.
In a statement, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich took issue with the terms and conditions outlined by the group, and said Dunleavy is obligated to promote “open and transparent public forums.” Begich call for Dunleavy to cancel the Americans for Prosperity-hosted events.
Shuckerow said the governor has more community events planned for the future.
The first of the community meetings series will take place in Kenai at 6 p.m., Monday, March 25, at The Cannery Lodge. Events in Anchorage, Nome, Fairbanks and Mat-Su will follow.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.