I listened to Dan Fagan read Robert Dillon's Fairbanks News-Miner article over the radio, as I drove in to do some work at UAA this afternoon. He read the article really slowly - so his listeners might understand it. Actually, the way he read it was helpful, and although I'd already read it twice, it impressed me even more.
The Democratic Party issued a press release on this in the early afternoon, followed by Diane Benson, who was in on the Party leadership's conference. Ethan Berkowitz's campaign has told Progressive Alaska they will not be issuing a statement, and nobody is taking calls at Metcalfe's campaign office. Here are the two releases:
Alaska Democratic Party Chair Condemns Dishonest Campaigning
Anchorage – Alaska Democratic Party Chair Patti Higgins today issued the following statement:
“It has come to my attention that one of our Democratic candidates for U.S. House, Ethan Berkowitz, has been facing unfair campaign tactics. In the past few weeks, three bogus campaign web sites have been set up, his Wikipedia site rewritten with insulting and demeaning content, a false ActBlue site set up, and attacks launched through anonymous bloggers. These tactics are an attempt to tear down Ethan Berkowitz and confuse voters about who he is and his record. The Alaska Democratic Party condemns dishonest campaigning. These kinds of campaign tricks are not acceptable. Whoever is doing this should come out of the shadows and clear the air. Candidates will differ on many issues, but each candidate deserves to be judged on their record and their values and not subjected to anonymous attacks.”
DIANE BENSON CONDEMNS INTERNET MUD-SLINGING
(Anchorage, AK) Diane Benson, candidate for U.S. Congress in Alaska (AK-AL), is publicly condemning the recent use of websites and other tactics to smear the image of congressional candidate Ethan Berkowitz. Diane Benson and her campaign ensure the voters of Alaska there is no connection between these apparently fake websites and her campaign.
Diane’s campaigns has also been victim to similar attacks. In 2006 and in 2008, anonymous individuals edited the Wikipedia and Congresspedia pages for Diane with derogatory and discriminatory remarks. Early last fall, there were also a series of anonymous bloggers leaving negative comments on blog posts with similar comments.
Benson says: “Our campaign is about change, about transforming our government to serve the needs of the people of Alaska. We are focused on engaging voters in our grassroots campaign and collectively address the issues facing our state. I am disappointed to see that these dirty tactics are being used. We have been embarrassed enough by the poor representation and scandal that surrounds our current congressional representative. Alaskans deserve better from their elected officials and candidates for elected office.”
Recent articles by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and the Anchorage Press state that these websites may be linked to a campaign seeking Don Young’s seat in the US House of Representatives.
“I hope that there are no connections to another campaign. If there is, I hope that candidate will take the necessary actions to disassociate themselves from those individuals and publicly condemn their actions. This is too historic a race for us to be distracted by petty old style smear campaign tactics. We need to focus on the issues important to voters and keep the conversation on each one of our visions for moving Alaska forward.”
Benson was the first candidate to publicly disclaim any involvement in this fiasco when she spoke out during The Aaron Selbig Show on KUDO on April 25, 2008. On the show, Benson offered encouragement to her rival Ethan Berkowitz.