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Ad about Sullivan mischaracterizes HB77

Posted: June 3, 2014 - 11:17am  |  Updated: June 3, 2014 - 2:23pm

Editor's note: "The ad referenced in this column was not produced by Sen. Mark Begich's campaign. We have changed the headline and subhead of this story to better reflect that."

As we enter into a contentious political season, campaign advertising will do its best to be persistent and persuasive. It will be difficult to determine the truth in matters that are important to us.

In a recent TV ad titled “Never Forget,” Put Alaska First, liberal super PAC and supporters of Mark Begich present a false interpretation of HB77, a legislative bill, stream lining the DNR permitting process, by stating the bill would result in a loss of hunting opportunity.

This example of deliberate dishonesty is dangerous not because it perpetuates a misunderstanding of a small bill that did not pass and did not threaten hunting opportunity, but because it indicates a larger attack on the truth.

It would lead the viewer to believe that Mark Begich supports hunters and Dan Sullivan, who sponsored the bill and is a U.S. Senate Candidate challenging Begich, is not in support of hunters. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As a hunter who is engaged in wildlife conservation issues, works closely with upper level staff of ADF&G wildlife conservation, and has direct access to the Board of Game, the ad came as a surprise.

Those who are deeply involved in hunting issues struggled to find the connection between the bill mentioned in the ad and hunting. The association of HB77 to the loss of hunting opportunity can only be made in the same way that the Commissioner of ADF&G could decimate a fish stock or game population by using the authority of an emergency opening or closure. This authority exists and is necessary for a commissioner to manage, but it is not exercised in a vacuum. In reality, the chances of this kind of harm are forbidden and further protected through the open public and regulatory process the State of Alaska has set in place.

Like most legislative bills, HB77 needed careful vetting and parts of the bill warranted public input. Dan Sullivan demonstrated leadership in attempting to reduce obstructive regulations not only for his department, but for the Alaskan people. Alaska has the most open public processes in the nation; we are blessed with the opportunity to interact with our public officials and have a voice in the process. For hunters, the danger of abusive administrative authority is from federal agencies. When Alaska hunters travelled to Washington DC with concerns about loss of hunting opportunity on public lands, in contrast to what the ad would have us believe, Mark Begich did not respond as a Senator who supports hunting or hunting opportunity.

The message from Mark Begich to these hunters was clear: “Hunting opportunity is in the hands of the Federal government, it’s their land and fighting them will be useless.” In attempting to unravel how HB77 could be construed as to affect hunting, the connection was not as easily made as the connection between those individuals who were critical of HB77 being the same individuals who offer their support to Mark Begich. 

As an active and engaged hunter, HB77 did not come under my radar as an issue facing hunters. SB 77, a bill that removes the requirement for youth hunts to start prior to the beginning of school and HB375, relating to the crime of trespass, are two bills that directly affect hunters.

Federal over-reach, however, is the biggest threat to hunters in Alaska, and we have first-hand experience in the way in which Mark Begich aligns himself with federal policies that have taken away hunter opportunity that is a foundation of our communities and offer a key to our future sustainability both economically and culturally.

When an advertisement suggests Mark Begich supports Alaska hunters because he opposes a bill related to permitting that was supported by his senate opponent, it reminds me of a quote from Winston Churchill, “A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.” I hope Alaska hunters are not caught with their pants down on this one.


Elaina Spraker is a life-long Alaskan, hunter, and conservationist. She is the Director of Kenai Peninsula Women on Target and other youth and women’s programs on the Kenai Peninsula.

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jford 06/04/14 - 01:31 am
speaking of truth

HB 77 did indeed threaten hunting opportunities.

Alaska certainly does not have the most open public process in the nation.

Public opposition to HB77 effectively killed that misbegotten failure of public process. Dan Sullivan and Parnell deserve no credit or fanfare for introducing terrible public policy proposals.

(oh, and what's with the pants down reference? eww, this is a family newspaper.)

Suss 06/05/14 - 12:27 am
Restricting Public Comments

HB 77 was designed to streamline and do away with the pesky public commenting on development permits. Not a nice thought when you exclude the local voices.

Removing the public comments about the serious impacts development would have on traditional hunting and fishing areas that was Sullivan's intention with the language of HB77, and that is not the Alaskan way of government. Where else would the head of Natural Resources so blatantly push aside the will of the citizens to speak out about these issues. All for the benefit of Big Money Special Interests from outside.

Yes our hunting and fishing rights would be harmed. HB77 was so upsetting and so damaging that public testimony was so overwhelming against this bill. A rare day when the public came together from all over the State to complain and stop Sullivan from his outsider view of how things should be. Sullivan was acting like a lobbyist for mining and oil rather than the State's chief steward for our wonderful state's natural resources that supply our food and sustenance.
Should we replay the many testimonies against this bill so those that did not get the connection another chance at understanding just how dreadful to our lands and our way of life this bill was?

His conduct on HB77 was schockimg and shameful.

I understand how frustrating it can be to not kill wolves from helicopters on federal lands, damn those overreaching Feds.

Those wolves that are such a problem to the Sprakers were also Ted Spraker's project to bring them to the Kenai from the 40 mile country. Bring them to kill them. Those same wolves and their offspring were not allowed to be killed from the air and that is why they are here.

Sullivan is a Koch Brother's tool and a carpet bagging fake Alaskan. Talk about sleazy outside big money PAC attack ads that are cringe worthy! Bird poop and health care anyone?

This will go down as the most expensive, nasty campaign that Sullivan's outside money people could buy.

This is truly a test of who is the Alaskan and who is the poseur, that is the issue.

Follow the money, it will smell like big oil and Koch Brothers.

Alaska has a very important and vital role in this national election. Don't be fooled by big money buying up all the big media.

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