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By James Brooks
Alaska Beacon 

Alaska attorney general listed as director of political advocacy group

 

November 16, 2022



Fairbanks Democratic Sen. Scott Kawasaki does not live in his mother’s basement.

She doesn’t even have one.

And yet, in the final days of his closely fought re-election race against Republican Jim Matherly, Kawasaki had to defend himself and answer questions from constituents who read satirical ads sent through the mail by a group called Alaska Policy Partners Inc., which lists Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor among its founding directors.

Alaskans’ mailboxes were flooded with mailers as campaigns typically send their sharpest attack ads immediately before Election Day, but the ones by Alaska Policy Partners stood out and caused candidates to defend themselves.

The one targeting Kawasaki featured a digitally altered image of him, showing him sitting on a stuffed chair, accompanied by a bowl of potato chips and a TV remote. Alongside the image is a caption that includes the phrase “choosing to live in his mother’s basement.”

“This is like a full-out, I think, malicious lie,” Kawasaki said. “And it’s at the last minute, so I have no way to respond to it.”

Kawasaki expected a close race against Matherly, and said, “if I have even one question from a person who, I believe, is fairly knowledgeable about politics, who asks me, ‘Do you really live in your mom’s basement?’ … I think it does have an impact. It’s not a positive impact, that’s for sure.”

As of Monday, Kawasaki was ahead of Matherly 3,507 to 3,124, with another week to go before the last of the early and absentee votes are counted.

In addition to the ones targeting Kawasaki, the political group sent mailers describing incumbent Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Grier Hopkins as a “puppet.”

Campaign finance records show Alaska Policy Partners, funded by a variety of donors, spent more than $110,000 on advertising in a handful of close-fought state House and Senate races.

The group’s leadership is unclear. Jesse Sumner, a Republican candidate for state House in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, is listed as its president of the board but said he is no longer with the group.

Trevor Jepsen, listed as a contact for Alaska Policy Partners, said he left the organization nine months ago and at that time, Jodi Taylor, the wife of Attorney General Taylor, was in charge. A document filed Oct. 20 with the state’s licensing division does not list Jodi Taylor as a director of the organization. It does list Treg Taylor as a director. A record filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Nov. 1 lists Jodi Taylor as a director but not Treg Taylor.

Taylor and his wife are each listed as “director” in the group’s founding documents. Neither responded to requests for comment about their roles.

The group paid Massey Political Consulting, a Utah firm, for its advertising.

Alaska Policy Partners Inc. was incorporated in 2021 as a nonprofit that could engage in political campaigns as long as it isn’t the organization’s primary activity.

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization. Alaskabeacon.com.

 

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