Knowles staff slams stealth-PAC issue ad

Posted: Sunday, June 09, 2002

The Knowles administration on Friday lashed out against soft money television ads from a Republican-friendly trade group that accuse the Democratic governor of piloting the state's economy into the ground.

Americans for Job Security, a Virginia-based nonprofit with Republican ties, paints a false portrait of the state's economy, said Labor Commissioner Ed Flanagan.

"The facts do not sustain any claim that our economy is not in good shape," Flanagan said.

The group has been airing a series of television spots in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. The first one argues that Alaska is among the most poorly managed states in the nation, behind only Alabama.

The spots use state Department of Labor and Workforce Development statistics along with a report from Governing magazine to support some claims.

Gov. Tony Knowles will leave office in December after two terms in office. Knowles has yet to comment on the ads, but Flanagan held a press conference on Friday to refute the criticism after consulting with the governor.

Flanagan said the television spots give false information that could harm consumer confidence in the state.

"If we have people telling us our economy is in the toilet, they're going to start running," Flanagan said.

Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, who is seeking the Democrat nomination for governor, has criticized the advertisements. The ads also have drawn comments from the gubernatorial campaign of Republican U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, which has called them negative and out of place.

Americans for Job Security is an Alexandria, Va.,-based nonprofit created in October 1997 to lobby against issues pushed by the Democratic-leaning AFL-CIO.

The group was created in part by a $1 million contribution from the American Insurance Association, and in April 1998 claimed to have $8.5 million in pledges.

The group drew fire in May 2000 for allegations that former GOP Majority Leader Trent Lott pressured lobbyists for contributions to the organization.

Americans for Job Security could not be reached for comment on Friday. But its executive director, Mike Dubke, recently defended the ads in an Anchorage Daily News story and said "our business is to expose the truth."

The group has targeted Alaska's Nov. 5 gubernatorial race and intends to run more ads in the future, Dubke told the newspaper.

It began running ads this week ranking Alaska at the bottom for economic growth. Past ads have said Alaska's youth are leaving the state in large numbers and that the state has suffered from job losses.

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