Yes on 1 campaign attacks former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles

The “Vote Yes – Repeal The Giveaway” campaign, which is advocating repealing the oil tax overhaul that recently passed the Legislature, sent out a fundraising email on Friday accusing former Gov. Tony Knowles, who is against repeal, of corruption, cronyism, and for being a “paid shill” for the oil companies.  A young “aggressive” intern sent the email, the campaign said.

“This is the same Tony Knowles who gave his friends at BP a $200 million dollar oil lease for free while receiving several hundred thousand dollars in a secret bank account for his own personal use,” the email written by Andrew Lessig said.

“Knowles continued his crony ways by attempting to allow BP to monopolize the North Slope by taking control of ARCO.”

Knowles,  a Democrat, was governor from 1994 to 2002, when ARCO was bought by BP. He fought to ensure that BP would be forced to divest ARCO’s Alaska assets.

The email also disparages former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom, who is also against repeal. Under his picture is the caption: “Would you buy a used car from this man?”

Vic Fischer, who is a chair of the group, called Knowles to apologize on Friday and sent out an apology on Monday:

While I disagree with Tony Knowles’ position on SB21, the campaign was wrong to engage in an erroneous and mean personal attack on former Governor Tony Knowles, who has an outstanding record of public service to Alaska…There is room for Alaskans to have different views on the oil tax referendum.  We want an open discussion of the issues. We value civil discourse and want important policy decisions to be based on the assessment of information and the application of Alaskans’ values.”

In the email, Fischer does not apologize to Mystrom, who is a Republican. I’m told that one is in the works.

The repeal issue is one that’s turning out to be a litmus test for Democrats, and is beginning to divide the party.

“This was not a good moment for us,” Vote Yes spokesman T J Presley said.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


27 thoughts on “Yes on 1 campaign attacks former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles

  1. Bill S

    I am outraged, OUTRAGED I tell you. I demand apologies from err..everyone, AND I want the ne’er-do-wells and rapscallions FLOGGED and fired.

    Anyone who can’t do basic math and understand that when you give hard working job-creating oil companies bags of tax payer dollars, only Very Good Things will be the end result. If that money were left in the public coffers, well, err, hrumpf, only Ill Would Become of It. \

    Have Trust in your Alien Overlords.

  2. Bake Shop

    I hope someone in the “Yes” camp apologizes for the big holes cut into the “NO” signs, too.

    None too obvious a hit. Let’s get another apology and reprimand for such crass political actions. And yet another story that should be in the paper.

  3. Lynn Willis

    When you are sinking, drilling holes in your own boat to let the water out won’t work.

  4. Not Enough

    I’m sorry, but until the Yes folks fire Lessig and offer some explanation about how this was approved, their apology smacks of lip service.

  5. Mark

    This isn’t an emotional issue, it is an economic issue. It appears that most advocating repeal, are angry and seek puinitive action towards the industry which makes little or no sense. Repeallers throw out slogans, not facts. Listen to the economic arguments and decide. If your decision is based on economics instead of political rhetoric, I believe you will vote No on #1.

  6. Jon

    This is simply a myth. Under SB 21 we are collecting about $80 million less.

    Do you realize that by returning to ACES you are going to give Exxon BP and Conoco 20 cents for every dollar they spend on capital projects?

  7. Jeff Landrum

    Let’s not forget the real outrage: the oil companies are getting $2,000,000,000.00 a year FOR DOING NOTHING that would otherwise be going to improve the lives of all Alaskans.

    Your crocodile tears over a stupid email just melt my hardened heart. Keep on posting, oil surrogates!

  8. Jon

    For those curious the total government take is somewhere around 63-65 percent, with the state and local governments getting around 45 percent and the Feds getting the rest. This leaves the producers with about 35-37 percent.

    Is 45 percent or so a fair share for the state? If not, what is?

    Should we impose similar tax rates on “our” fish, gold, copper, timber? If not, why not?

  9. Jon

    The opponents of SB 21 rely on propaganda because they don’t have facts. Just ask those thet want to repeal what the state’s total take is – few know. It’s odd that so many who claim that we are entitled to our “fair share” don’t even know what share we actually get! Nor do they know that our production tax after statehood was only 1 percent of gross production – and yet Shannyn Moore has the audacity to claim that SB 21 is unconstitutional for imposing about a 20 percent production tax on net profits.

    In any event, SB 21 is working. We are seeing more wells being drilled, more jobs, more companies investing, and more oil. I’m not sure why the press isn’t covering this but the production decline, which was over 7 percent in 2012, has stabilized and we are starting to see the average daily production increase relative to last year. This is unprecedented.

    Give SB 21 a chance. If we don’t see sustained investment, more production, and real progress on a gas line then we can ramp up taxes.

  10. Juneauite

    The story is a sad commentary on the quality of campaign that the Yes on Ballot Initiative 1 Committee is running. It is a campaign based on cheap slogans, unwarranted ppersonal attacks and innuendo. From the comments associated with this storyz, I get a better understanding how these people think which I think can be best described as very shallow. I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t make any sense to argue with closed minded people that are ill-informed or uninformed. To suggest that Tony Knowles is corrupt is fool hearty. If thus is the soul of the Democratic party its no wonder they are in the moinority. I expect they’ll be there for some time.

  11. Deb M.

    I was and remain opposed to SB 21 and am plannong to vote Yes to repeal. However, I am saddened that the Yes on 1 committee excersized such poor judgement and allowed such a negative and untrue attack on one of the best Governor’s we’ve had in some time. There’s something wrong when Democrats feel compelled to attack other good Democrats. Today, I can honestly say that I am ashamed of Vic Fisher and several others that I would have never thought would stoop so low.

  12. XXX

    I am not for or against the tax initiative referred to as #1. It is far from perfect. It needs some tweaking is all. Why all the craziness? The Democrats should have figured thiis one out from Obama Care. We don’t need to repeal, we just need to make some minor changes. We certainly don’t have to impune people’s character or lie. Let’s bring some civility to the debate.

  13. Mae

    Is their any more champaign left in Alaska? Cause they were poppin corks left and right when the GiveAway was signed.

  14. Mae

    Actually, it is 2 billion a year for 5 years. Oh and that is with no guarantees for the GIVEAWAY.
    Little ol Mae (me) wish I too had employed Parnell as a former lobbyist and attorney working, then I’d have a stab at the state coffers.

    Repeal the GiveAway. Vote YES for Alaska and it’s people.

  15. Eagle River Resident

    The silence of Les Gara, Hollis French, Bill Wielochoski is deafening. I am shocked at this story. I think it is serious high time to think who people are aligning themselves with. Hey, Les and Bill and Hollis: while you snuggle up to the likes of Ray Metclaf and associate with Andrew Lessig, I think I’ll associate with Scott Goldsmith, Tony Knowles, Marc Langland, Bill Sheffield and others. I’ll sleep well tonight. The YES on ONE group should be ashamed and horrified.

  16. Letter to Jim Bob

    You commented that the important thing was that Tony Knowles was apologized to. Are you kidding me? I suspect that the Jim Bob moniker is really Andrew because I can’t imagine anyone dumb enough to try to cover this lappse of judgement. I beg to differ. While an apology was certainly in order, the important thing is to not slander or lie. This may be a difficult concept for you to grasp based on your postings; however, if and when you ever develop a moral compass you may understand. Also, I think the email’s author, who I am starting to believe is you, probably owes the former governor and mayor an apology as well. LOL #Democrat Losers.

  17. Rob

    Andrew Lessig may be the Democratic answer to Ray Metcalfe’s ineptitude and tendency to spread lies. Keep up the good work Andrew. A few more of your well thought out emails and the oil companies can pop the champagne early. You must be an idiot.

  18. JFK Democrat

    Been a democrat my entire life. Worked in a partially exempt position in the last two democratic administrations (Cowper and Knowles). To witness this kind of behavior from democrats is beyong anything that I can accept or rationalize. I have been undecided on this issue until now. I have questioned the wisdom of some of my democratic friends and their involvement with the likes of Disco Ray Metcalfe. Now, it’s obvious. Thank you for helping me realize that its time to vote No on #1. Slandering Tony Knowles with such a lame attack was stupid. You have motivated me to talk to my friends and neighbors and encourage them to joon me in votiing NO.

  19. JoAnne

    I’ve not been involved in politics much; however, I would say that this unjustified attack is the lowest, most disgusting expression of political rhetoric that I have ever witnessed. Obviously Ballot Measure #1 is an important issue; however, the proponents of #1 have offered little in terms of “real” reasons we should support repeal. Their arguments are little more than slogans: 1) “IT’S OUR OIL” – Not necessarily true. We sold leases and gave the oil companies the right to develop and produce oil. Therefore, it is NOT ours any longer. As the sovereign, we maintain taxiing powers that should find a balance of fairness that encourages development; otherwise, declining production will only continue and no tax rate will sustain us. 2) “2 BILLION DOLLAR GIVE AWAY” – Not true, but a nice slogan. When the facts are not on your side, I guess some people just deciide to call names and make up lies. I wish not to be associated with these folks. I have met Mr Presley before and find him to be a reasonable and respectable person. His response was accurate and gracious. The commenter known as JIM BOB appears to haveneither the social skills or intellect to offer anything reasonable or productive to the debate. If he wanted to be helpful to his cause, I would suggest to not so boldly show your partisan ignorance.

  20. Samantha

    This says more about the Vote yes campaign than anything else: just say anything, facts be damned. They must be getting desperate. What other possible reason could there be to make this bad of a move? Really, really poor form. Amateurish.

  21. Jim Bob

    Tony was apologized-to last Friday: that’s the important thing, no? You Republicans just love love LOVE them apologies. On top of that, the campaign sent a written one to their mailing list today. I think that if you continue to demand further forms of apology, perhaps they can buy some airtime to say ‘sorry’ there, too.

  22. Amanda Post author

    Hey Jim. It wasn’t disavowed at all, to say nothing of immediately. An apology was issued only to Tony Knowles three days later. And I was told that Metcalfe had nothing to do with the email.

  23. Jim Bob

    Ray Metcalfe hits ‘send’ on a email which is immediately disavowed by the campaign. Why bury the lede, unless your goal is to smear the people who are actively trying to prevent the Oileys from bankrupting out state? You are better than this, Amanda.

  24. Mae

    Seriously Alaskans, Slicker than Oil Knowles wants you to realize that it is NOT Alaska’s oil, it belongs to Larry, Moe and Curly. AND Mystrom has a contract ready for you to sign to that effect.

  25. Northern Observer

    Shame on you Andrew Lessig. Your baseless attack calling Governor Knowles corrupt is the equivalent of me calling your mother an ugly whore. It is not nice.

  26. AR

    This act epitomizes the Yes on 1 committee’s lack of integrity. Their entire campaign has focused on disingenuous statements, out right lies and now personal attacks. I don’t think there is two cents worth of sincerity in Vic Fisher’s apology. I remember Vic Fisher when he was running against a gay Republican in the 1980’s for the senate and he kept saying, “I’m not going to make my opponents sexuality an issue in this campaign” which is exactly what he was doing. For those that herald Vic Fisher as some holy icon of statehood have a rather limited and partial view of his history. Frankly, I would be ashamed to be part of the Yes on 1 campaign. Tony Knowles is an honorable and good man. To be attacked this way is disgusting. If they were truly sincere they would expel their volunteer that presumeably wrote the letter.Remember these tactics when you vote for candidates and ask yourself if these are the kind of people you want in office.

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