Credit:  Alex Prud’homme


Resource developers are pulling out all stops to block the push to strengthen Alaska’s salmon habitat protection law for the first time since statehood in 1959.

In its first quarter filing for 2018 the group Stand for Alaska reports it has raised over $2 million to stop a ballot initiative that could go to voters this fall.  That is four  times more than the $475,560 the grassrootsgroup Yes for Salmon has raised in support of modernizing permitting and habitat protection measures.

Filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission show that financial backing for both groups comes primarily from outside the state.

Mining operations from Canada that put in $200,000 each include Kinross Fort Knox and the Pebble Mine.

Japanese owned Pogo Mine, Illinois-based Coeur Alaska and Hecla Mining of Idaho also contributed $200,000 as well as Donlin Gold and Doyon, Limited.

ConocoPhillips has donated $250,000 and BP has contributed $500,000 to Stand for Alaska.

Those companies, along with Canada’s Teck Mining and Tower Hill Mines, the Resource Development Council, Alaska Miners Association and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association also have contributed thousands of dollars for in-kind donations to cover staff time, office expenses, travel, etc.

To convince voters that the ballot measure is a bad idea, Stand for Alaska so far has paid $132,000 to Anchorage-based Bright Strategy and Communications; $36,000 to Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Virginia; $20,000 to Blueprint Alaska and $10,000 to Dittman Research, both of Anchorage.

Total expenditures by Stand for Alaska also include nearly $612,000, of which more than 40 percent has gone to DCI Group of Washington, DC as a subcontractor via Bright.

DCI Group is widely cited as a “top Republican and lobbying group” that creates campaigns by masking corporate sponsors to make it appear that it is a grassroots effort, a practice known as ‘astro-turfing.”

Most notably, the DCI Group has done campaigns for the tobacco industry and for Exxon’s climate change denial efforts.

The APOC filings show that most of the money donated to Yes for Salmon’s campaign also comes from outside Alaska.

Through April 7, the group has collected about $205,000 in contributions. Of that, $100,000 comes from John Childs of Florida who also is a board member of the Wild Salmon Center based in Portland, Oregon.

The New Venture Fund Salmon State, backed by the Hewlett Foundation of Washington, DC, has contributed $37,246 of in-kind contributions.

The Alaska Center has donated $14,000 for in-kind services, also contributing are Trout Unlimited, the Sitka Conservation Society and Cook Inletkeeper. Other monetary contributions are in the $75 – $250 range by nine individual Alaskans.

Total expenditures in the first quarter by Yes for Salmon were reported at $124,388  and overall expenditures total about $317,000.

Of that,  $25,000 has gone to the Patinkin Research Group of Portland, Ore., for polling and other work as well as about $16,000 to Element Agency of Anchorage for media support.

The salmon protection push must still prove it is constitutional before it goes to the voters. The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments on April 26. #