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Dark money group weaponizes Demboski resignation letter, sends edited version to Anchorage voters

By Suzanne Downing,

2023-02-02
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The dark money group known as the 907 Initiative, headed up by a former Anchorage Daily News reporter, has gone on an offensive against Mayor Dave Bronson again.

The group has a massive radio ad buy and is mailing out an edited version of former Municipal Manager Amy Demboski’s resignation letter, in which she makes numerous accusations about improper contracts being signed by the city.

The 907 Initiative says the letter was edited for brevity, but not editorialized. When Demboski quit, her attorney Scott Kendall sent her resignation letter to every member of the Anchorage Assembly in the attempt to do maximum damage to Mayor Dave Bronson. Thus, the letter is public record, although because it involves personnel, the mayor is not able to respond to Demboski’s allegations.

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The public is not being told who funds the 907 Initiative. It describes itself as an “Alaska-based government watchdog organization working to increase public transparency for state and local government We work with individuals, organizations and grassroots coalitions to promote a greater quality of life and promote Alaskan values.”

Organizers listed on the group’s official listing with the Department of Commerce are Debra Call, who ran as a Democrat for lieutenant governor; Eleanor Andrews, a longtime Democrat activist and former state commissioner, and Stephanie Nichols, the vice president, Ethics & Compliance and Compliance Counsel at GCI.

Like the Alaska Center, the 907 Initiative is devoted to leftist candidates and causes. But unlike the Alaska Center, the group is not yet listed on the Internal Revenue Service’s publicly facing database. The IRS has a large backlog of work and the organization’s nonprofit status, officers, and address may not be known for many months.

Because of the reporting delays, the public will also not be able to learn who is funding this group for as much as two years. In the meantime, it will be able to operate freely through the next few election cycles, hiding the funders while campaigning under the guise of a transparency-seeking watchdog.

The 907 Initiative is also now funding the Alaska Current, a new leftist blog, as it incorporates political writer Matt Buxton, who has been underwritten by political operative Jim Lottsfeldt for many years at a website that launched in 2015. The Alaska Current is associated with the Ship Creek Group, a group founded by John Henry-Heckendorn, who came to Alaska to work in association with Lottsfeldt, and to manage the campaign of Democrat Andy Josephson.

Despite its mission of transparency, the 907 Initiative registered its website name using privacy blocks to prevent the public from learning who bought the names “907Initiative.org” and “907Initiative.com.”

The Alaska Public Media has gone along the 907 Initiative, calling it a “nonpartisan watchdog group.” Already the group has gotten involved in the 2022 election, filing a lawsuit with the Alaska Public Interest Research Group against the campaign of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The 907 Initiative’s executive director, Aubrey Wieber, who arrived in Alaska in 2019 as a reporter but quickly became an employee of Assemblyman Chris Constant, can be reached at [email protected].

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