Salmon initiative opposition group fined over its name
A group opposing Alaska’s Stand for Salmon initiative has been fined nearly $2,000, after regulators say its original name was misleading and appeared on campaign videos after it was changed.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission levied a $1,925 fine against Stand for Alaska – Vote No on One, which was originally formed under the name Stand for Alaska to oppose Ballot Measure 1. The measure, intended to strengthen the state’s protections against development in salmon habitats, has drawn fire from the state’s mining industries and other pro-business groups.
The original complaint, filed by measure backers Stand for Salmon, hinged on YouTube videos posted by Stand for Alaska which didn’t include the group’s full name in listings of whom they were “paid for by.”
According to a final order filed Friday by APOC, state law requires that the name of a group primarily opposing a single initiative “must clearly state that the group opposes that initiative.” Stand for Alaska was formed in October 2017, but didn’t amend its name to Stand for Alaska – Vote No on One until June 12.
“The name “Stand for Alaska” does not indicate opposition to anything, so it does not comply with the requirement that the group’s name ‘clearly state that the group opposes that initiative by using a word such as ‘opposes,’ ‘opposing,’ ‘in opposition to,’ or ‘against,’’” APOC officials wrote.
According to APOC, six campaign videos posted between February and May didn’t include the new name, as well as two more videos posted in mid-June after the name change.
Although the commission found cause to fine Stand for Alaska, it significantly reduced the amount from the maximum penalty under state law because the group is in its first year of campaigning. In addition, APOC found that “the penalty is out of proportion to the degree of harm to the public from not having the information.”
“Although the group’s name did not indicate its opposition to the Stand for Salmon initiative, its publicly available APOC filings and other public communications did indicate that such opposition was the group’s purpose,” APOC officials wrote.
A statement from Stand for Alaska called the complaint "administrative in nature," but said that the group isn't challenging the order.
"We've corrected the naming scheme where appropriate and will be paying the fine as the commission recommends," Stand for Alaska officials wrote. "We look forward to continuing to inform Alaskans on the dangerous and deceptive nature of Ballot Measure 1."
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.