Sponsorship of Dunleavy's budget tour prompts questions about 'public' event status

Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 7:49 PM AKDT
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Gov. Mike Dunleavy is preparing to visit five cities in five days as part of a small tour of Alaska next week about his proposed austerity budget.

The governor plans to discuss his vision for the FY2020 budget, but news that these events are being sponsored and hosted by the Alaska chapter of Americans for Prosperity a non-profit founded by the billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch — have some people questioning the 'public' status of the events.

Dunleavy announced “A Statewide Discussion for a Permanent Fiscal Plan” on Monday, billing it as "a series of community focused discussions and meetings to outline a permanent fiscal plan for Alaska." But that announcement made no mention of the tour's sponsorship by Americans for Prosperity.

The AFP event website gives people an option to pre-register for each event. According to Ryan Mckee, Director of AFP-Alaska, the main reason behind registration in the expected turnout.

"We'll have enough room at each event for probably 200 people," McKee told KTUU, "Anyone can register- first come, first serve."

While McKee asserted that Alaskans of any viewpoint or political affiliation are welcome, many are questioning whether the 415-word terms and conditions of the event registration process are too onerous, which include but are not limited to:

The general public cannot "record, reproduce or transmit” the event without permission, but

By attending, you grant AFP irrevocable consent to record and distribute your likeness, image, voice or "other indicia of identity," and "to distribute, use, broadcast, or disseminate into perpetuity such media for any purpose whatsoever without any further approval from or any compensation of any kind to you."

Clothing, signs or items displaying campaign messaging are prohibited.

Attendees may be required to present valid identification.

McKee addressed concerns by saying that the rules are only there to ensure a safe environment and a successful event.

"We won't be ID'ing people at the door," he said. "We do reserve the right to remove anyone that becomes a problem for the rest of the crowd."

Sen. Donny Olson (D-Nome) had sharp words on Wednesday for the terms and conditions agreement requiring attendees to forego rights to their likeness to a third-party for a meeting with the governor.

Olson went so far as to offer to pay for the cost of renting out Old St. Joe's — the location of Dunleavy's stop in Nome — on the condition that the event be open to the public without stipulations placed on their attendance.

Olson says he's hopeful that the governor will take him up on his offer, and that his constituents will behave in a civil, productive manner.

"Everybody doesn't have a lawyer or can consult one to read the fine print in order to attend the event," Olson told KTUU by phone on Wednesday. "I felt this was a disservice for the people that were out there so I just wanted a clear opportunity for my constituents to engage with the governor."

Following reports of the events being sponsored by AFP, the governor's office acknowledged its partnership with AFP-Alaska and the Alaska Policy Forum, saying in a statement "..The Governor's Road show includes numerous meetings and events in partnership with a variety of stakeholders, groups and organizations."

ACLU Communications Director Casey Reynolds told Channel 2 Wednesday that the meetings are currently being reviewed.

"The ACLU is reviewing both the process and execution of these meetings to make sure they conform to the law and constitutional rights," Reynolds said.

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