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Alaskans Outraged At Sullivan Billionaire Backer

New York billionaire mails addresses, names, voting records of neighbors and friends to Alaskans

Funnels Six Figures to Dan Sullivan


ANCHORAGE — Alaskans are outraged a billionaire backer of Dan Sullivan is violating Alaskans’ privacy by distributing their names, home addresses and voting history in mailers designed to intimidate Alaskans into voting.

The mailers are being distributed by New York billionaire Paul Singer who has already funneled over $300,000 to Dan Sullivan’s campaign and hosted a swanky fundraising event for Sullivan.

Anchorage’s Channel 2 covered the story and received comments from dozens of Alaskans who believe the efforts supporting Sullivan are a blatant violation of privacy.

“Alaskans have every right to be outraged at Dan Sullivan’s latest attack on their privacy. Outside billionaires like Paul Singer and the Koch brothers are willing to do anything in their attempts to buy Alaska’s Senate seat including attempting to represent the State of Alaska and distribute the home addresses of Alaskans. Alaskans deserve better than Dan Sullivan’s lack of respect for privacy,” said Max Croes, Communications Director for Alaskans for Begich.

Billionaire Paul Singer, who runs the American Opportunity Alliance, is notorious for making millions off of Wall Street’s collapse and driving up the price of oil with questionable oil speculation practices. Singer has funneled over $300,000 into Sullivan’s campaign and has been referred to as a “vulture capitalist,”even profiting from the bankruptcies of Chrysler and Lehman Brothers. Fortune Magazine called Singer a “passionate defender of the 1%.”

Read the full story below:

KTUU: Alaskans incensed by letters publishing their voting records

Chris Klint, Senior Digital Producer,
POSTED: 08:00 PM AKDT Oct 25, 2014

A series of letters from a shadowy group is telling Alaskans’ friends and neighbors whether they voted in previous elections — and threatening to release their voting records in the Nov. 4 general elections.

In letters photographed by Channel 2 viewers who received them, the Alaska State Voter Program lists 10 friends and neighbors, along with their home addresses and whether — but not how — they voted in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections. At least one person reported subsequently receiving an email from the group containing the text of the mailed letter.

An introduction in the letters rhetorically asks why people don’t vote, then poses the group’s solution to the issue. The language is mirrored on the group’s website, which allows people to generate a list similar to those in the letters by entering their name and mailing address or their Facebook account.

“This year, we’re taking a new approach,” ASVP members wrote. “We’re sending this mailing to you, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues at work, and your community members to publicize who does and does not vote.”

USA Today said in a 2012 story that using shame as a targeted get-out-the-vote tactic has been popularon both sides of the aisle, with conservatives at the group Americans for Limited Government sending voters in 19 states nearly 3 million letters that year similar to those received in Alaska. The liberal group sent postcards to 12 million “potential progressive voters,” estimating how often they voted relative to their neighbors but not disclosing those neighbors’ voting records.

Channel 2 viewers have uniformly condemned the Alaska mailings as an unwarranted intrusion on their privacy, with one saying a friend who received a copy of the letter at his Wasilla home did not respond well.

“He and his wife are furious because the letter lists names and addresses of their neighbors and what years they voted — which means their names are probably on a letter in other people’s households,” the viewer wrote. “These types of shaming and bullying tactics are unacceptable and they cross the line.”

A second viewer pointed out the possibility of information from the letters enabling criminal activity.

“We recently had ID theft and the last thing we want to publicize is where we live,” the viewer wrote. “I wonder how many people are outraged like us.”

A third viewer said the mailings represent a threat to Alaska-based service members’ operational and personal security.

“How is this even okay to send out people’s names and addresses?” the viewer wrote. “What about the military families in this state who are trying to maintain proper OPSEC and PERSEC, who just had their names and addresses sent out to random other people?”

Gail Fenumiai, the director of the state Division of Elections, said Saturday that the Alaska State Voter Program is not affiliated with the State of Alaska, despite a round logo in its letterhead which loosely remembles a state seal.

“People are thinking it’s coming from us, and it’s not,” Fenumiai said. “It’s been very disconcerting and disturbing to voters.”

According to Fenumiai, the letters are based on a state voter list which tracks whether voters participated in elections over the last 10 years. Under state law, the document is publicly available for $20 in print or $21 electronically.

“The state voter list is a public list, and there are no limitations on what can be done with the list once it is purchased,” Fenumiai said. “That said, we think it’s unfortunate that it’s being used in this way.”

Despite angry reports of the letters coming in to the Division of Elections, Fenumiai said the power to regulate use of the state voter list ultimately lies with the state Legislature.

“If people are unhappy with the list being used in this way, they should contact their state representatives and senators,” Fenumiai said.

While ASVP isn’t registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission according to Fenumiai, she said the interstate nature of its PAC would leave it covered by the Federal Election Commission. State officials have been unable to uncover much more about the nature and origins of the group, she said.

An attribution at the bottom of the letters says they are paid for by the Opportunity Alliance PAC, a political action committee associated with the Republican-affiliated American Opportunity Alliance. The alliance’s website doesn’t list a page for Alaska, but includes links to an attack ad against U.S. Senate incumbent Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), as well as endorsements of Republicans Joni Ernst in an Iowa U.S. Senate race and Martha McSally for an Arizona U.S. House seat.

A February article in Politico tracks the American Oppportunity Alliance to New York billionaire Paul Singer, whom the publication describes as a “good GOP soldier” despite a stance in favor of same-sex marriage which puts him at odds with elements of the party. The Washington Post reports that Singer threw an event that raised $600,000 last year to benefit Dan Sullivan, Sen. Mark Begich’s challenger in this year’s Senate race, as well as two other candidates.

ASVP’s envelopes list an Anchorage return address of 3700 Arctic Blvd. #497. That address leads to a mailbox at The Mail Cache, a FedEx Office and UPS store in Midtown Anchorage. The store was closed when a Channel 2 crew visited Saturday afternoon.

The group’s letter includes a column of question marks next to voters’ names for the Nov. 4 elections — one it promises to fill in later.

“After the November 4th election, we intend to mail an updated chart,” the letter’s authors wrote. “You and your friends, your neighbors, and other people you know will all know who voted and who did not vote.”

The mailings may backfire, however, judging by the reaction to that threat by the viewer whose friends received the Wasilla letter.

“This letter is just one more reason why this has been the most distasteful political campaign season ever,” the viewer wrote.

Editor’s note: The names of Channel 2 viewers who received letters have been omitted from this story to protect their privacy.