Dunleavy ads feature phony Hammond quote on Permanent Fund Dividend

Former Sen. Mike Dunleavy, through the shadow campaign bankrolled by his brother in Texas and a few others, is all but claiming the blessing of the late Gov. Jay Hammond from beyond the grave.

Dunleavy is doing this through misleading radio and TV ads that quote Hammond out of context.

No one looking at all the facts could place Hammond in the Dunleavy camp, but since Hammond died in 2005 at 83, politicians have been eager to bask in his reflected glow as fellow disciples of the dividend.

The Dunleavy ads feature a manufactured Hammond quote spliced together from an appearance on public television in Alaska in 1993.

"To me it would be asinine frankly to reduce dividends. You're putting the whole burden on Alaskans and only Alaskans," the ad quotes the bolo-tie-wearing Hammond as saying.

But that's not what Hammond said.

About 45 seconds of the interview—everything Hammond said between those two sentences—was cut out. That was the part in which Hammond said he would raise taxes and user fees instead of cutting dividends.

Dunleavy has promised no new taxes, no dividend cuts and $1 billion in budget cuts he has never been able to identify. He is pretending that no one has to give up anything in Alaska, so it is understandable that he won't quote Hammond correctly on this.

What Hammond actually said in the 1993 TV appearance was this:

"To me it would be asinine frankly to reduce dividends and thereby impose a head tax on Alaskans and only Alaskans without at least first imposing such a thing as an income tax, extracting revenues from people who come up here."

He said he had asked the following question at four economic summits: "Would anybody tell me whenever it makes more sense to cap dividends than it would be to again, ratchet up an income tax or a wage tax or whatever in equivalency and thereby put the tax load on those who can best afford it and have it shared by non-residents? Otherwise you're putting the whole burden on Alaskans and only Alaskans."

This was all part of a panel discussion on state issues that included Gov. Wally Hickel, who was in office at the time, and former Govs. Keith Miller, Bill Sheffield, Steve Cowper and Hammond. Thanks to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the discussion is available online.

Hammond, who served as governor from 1974-1982, said that raising taxes would always be better than cutting the dividend and that about 25 percent would be paid by non-residents.

I have little doubt Hammond will be a bigger part of the 2018 campaign than in any since he last ran for office 40 years ago, but the portrayal will be filtered through manufactured quotes and other incomplete political statements about the Permanent Fund pawned off as sacred scripture. 

Hammond had some convoluted, complicated and sometimes conflicting views on the Permanent Fund, the Permanent Fund Dividend and the relationship of both to state spending and taxes. But he usually stopped short of peddling fairy tales.

The ad is accurate to the extent that Hammond opposed cutting dividends. But it is asinine to exclude the tax talk.


Dermot Cole3 Comments