It is against the law for the governor to officially advocate for or against a ballot measure; however, Palin took what she calls "personal privilege" to discuss one of this year’s most contentious initiatives, which voters will decide Tuesday.
Along with taking a position on the big mine’s side, Palin’s administration apparently used state Department of Natural Resources resources to lobby for defeat of the Clean Water Initiative under the pretense of creating a state run website to "educate" citizens. The citizen group Alaskans for Clean Water responded by filing “a complaint against DNR for a recently-launched state website meant to clarify the issue for voters. “
The complaint alleges that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) improperly attempted to influence the outcome of an election by publishing information against the initiative on its website. It also alleges that DNR failed to report to APOC the expenditures, including employee time, related to creation of the information.
“It has become clear to us that the Department of Natural Resources is working hand-in-hand with the industry, and that the state is inappropriately making efforts to influence voters on this ballot initiative,” said Art Hackney, a co-sponsor of Ballot Measure #4.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission agreed with the Clean Water advocates and ruled that the website had to be taken down:
APOC ruled that the state has an obligation to be “fair and neutral” and that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) web site was not fair. In fact, the Commission said it had problems with the wording on nearly every page of the site. APOC also ruled that all state officials are enjoined from making public statements that are critical of the initiative.
The Clean Water initiative which was opposed by mining interests required that wild salmon runs be protected by any new mining operations.
The initiative was defeated – with the Governor’s help – on August 26 – opening up Bristol Bay for the largest open pit mining operation in the world.
Way to go Gov Palin – respect for law? Protection of the environment? Not so much.