Rep. Gara to Pre-file Legislation to Stop Political Attacks in Publicly Funded Alaska Election Pamphlet After Attack Ad Appears in 2014 Guide
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 25, 2014
Anchorage – This year many voters were surprised to see a political attack ad in their official election pamphlet.
“The voter guide was never intended to be partisan or a vehicle for negative attack ads,” said District 20 State Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage).
The State of Alaska’s official election pamphlet has always provided candidate and competing ballot measure statements intended to inform voters. Alaska law allows political parties to provide material for the pamphlet and this year’s pamphlet included a series of full page ads paid for by various political parties.
“I never recall seeing it used for negative attack ads,” said Rep Gara. “The pamphlet should be non-partisan. Alaskans are bombarded with too much negative advertising during elections. We don’t need the state of Alaska sanctioning that conduct.”
This year the Alaska Republican Party paid for an ad attacking Senator Mark Begich that was included with the informational ads run by the Alaska Democratic Party and the Alaska Libertarian Party. Rep. Les Gara will pre-file legislation to prevent partisan political ads from being sent to voters though the state-funded election pamphlet. Gara intends to seek bipartisan support for the effort before officially filing the bill. The bill would eliminate the language in state statute that allows political parties to include up to 2 pages of material in the official election pamphlet.
“In the past the parties have normally included positive information and not attacks,” said Gara. “The Alaska Republican Party ad attacking Senator Begich seems to have opened a new, ugly chapter for this previously non-partisan guide. Now, with that precedent, one or perhaps all parties will start to pay for ugly attacks in what is intended as an informational voting guide.”
Rep. Gara’s legislation will be pre-filed in advance of the start of the 29th Alaska Legislature in January. Gara stresses that he is open to language changes in the bill and hopes to have sponsors from both parties.