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Shadowy group mimicking ‘Americans for Prosperity’ emerges as political player

Must Read Alaska
Must Read Alaska
 2021-10-18
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Three attorneys from an Outside law firm along with three Alaska residents have created a group called “Alaskans for Posterity,” a name that is meant to confuse voters in Alaska with another well-known group operating in the state for many years: “Americans for Prosperity Alaska.”

Alaskans for Posterity is a partisan political group organized as a 501(c)4 nonprofit in 2020 that has recently been running radio ads against Gov. Mike Dunleavy. By doing so, it has broken campaign laws, because the group has not disclosed its top three donors. No complaint is known to have been filed against the group, which has been attacking the governor with a major media buy.

A 501(c)4 can run issue ads, but once they identify an actual candidate, they must be transparent about the source of their funds.

The group also put out a mailer to all Anchorage residents earlier this month, attacking the Save Anchorage group and also attacking those who oppose the compulsory mask ordinance just passed by the Assembly. On that mailer, the group didn’t identify itself, which is legal because it appeared to be talking about issues only, rather than specific candidates. But it is also an illegal mailer, because Assemblywoman Jamie Allard is mentioned in it, and she is a declared candidate for reelection to the Assembly.

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The group also paid for a letter sent by Providence Alaska Medical Center encouraging Anchorage residents to support the mask ordinance:

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It’s apparent that Alaskans for Posterity has money to burn in Alaska politics but isn’t telling people who it is, where the money comes from, and who is pulling the strings.

And, what’s more, the group is trying to trick voters by posing as Americans for Prosperity, an action that also may run afoul of campaign laws, should a complaint be filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Alaskans for Posterity’s incorporators are attorneys from Wisconsin Kieran Coe, Zach Bemis and Mike Wittenwyler, all heavily involved in Democrat-style smash-mouth politics. They are experts on concealing the identities of donors to such 501(c)4s, according to their biographies.

The Alaskans for Posterity legal officers are Nathan Ord, a young and newly minted medical doctor in Juneau, Reid Magdanz, a former legislative aide to Democrats from Kotzebue, and Elizabeth Johnson of Anchorage, who serves as the group’d president.

The group’s address is a home on 22nd Avenue near downtown Anchorage.

The incorporation papers show that the address is the same location where people associated with the Ship Creek Group, a political consultancy in Anchorage, have lived. Ship Creek Group is run by John Henry Heckendorn, the former campaign manager for former Gov. Bill Walker.

Those residents who have recently lived at the address include current Ship Creek Group partner Ira Slomski Pritz, and immediate past managing partner Allie Banwell. Pritz joined Ship Creek Group after working for former Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. Banwell ran Ship Creek Group while Heckendorn was running the Walker campaign for reelection, and then when he moved out of state to work for the CEO of AirBnB.

Other persons who recently used that home as their address include another alum of the Ship Creek Group, Jennifer Marie Stryker, who now works at the Alaska Center (for the Environment), and Alex di Suvero, who is associated with the Alaska Public Interest Research Group.

As for Magdanz, he worked as an aide to Democrat Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins, one of Ship Creek Group’s close political allies.

Ord, the Juneau doctor, and Henry-Heckendorn were classmates at Whitman College.

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group, formed in Alaska in 2014 and has been active in Alaska politics since. Recently, Bernadette Wilson was named the state director for the group.

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