State fines group opposing salmon habitat initiative for violating naming rule

Campaign materials for Stand for Alaska – Vote No on One on display at an Anchorage conference. (photo by Nat Herz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

The state is fining the main group opposing the salmon habitat ballot initiative $1,925.

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The Alaska Public Offices Commission says the group violated a rule that requires an organization fighting an initiative to clearly state its opposition in its name.

The organization is now called “Stand for Alaska – Vote No on One.” But the group was called simply “Stand for Alaska” until June 12, when it changed its name. The group also used “Stand for Alaska” in several campaign videos posted online.

APOC staff said the maximum penalty for all of the violations was $7,700, but the commission opted to reduce the fine because this is the first election cycle it has been active, and also “because the penalty is out of proportion to the degree of harm to the public,” the commission wrote in its decision.

Stand for Salmon, a group campaigning for the initiative, filed the complaint with the commission, arguing the name “Stand for Alaska” confused and misled voters. Ryan Schryver, director of Stand for Salmon, said the original name was “intentionally deceptive.”

The Stand for Alaska — Vote No on One campaign manager said that wasn’t the case.

“As far as the naming error goes, it was honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless,” Kati Capozzi of Stand for Alaska said. “We will be paying the fine and we’re not going to be contesting it.”

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Elizabeth Harball is a reporter with Alaska's Energy Desk, covering Alaska’s oil and gas industry and environmental policy. She is a contributor to the Energy Desk’s Midnight Oil podcast series. Before moving to Alaska in 2016, Harball worked at E&E News in Washington, D.C., where she covered federal and state climate change policy. Originally from Kalispell, Montana, Harball is a graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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