Conservative Anchorage political activist Russell Biggs has recently uncovered evidence showing that several Anchorage Assembly members have been destroying public records that show collusion to manipulate public policy within the assembly meetings.
Biggs’ said his public records request reveals that assembly members Chris Constant and Meg Zaletel, along with former member Forrest Dunbar (who was elected to the State Senate), sent messages between themselves or individuals outside the official meetings in order to “coordinate the vote.”
“After several months and lots of money, we now know that Forrest Dunbar, Chris Constant, and Meg Zaletel are using several methods to evade the Alaska Public Records and Records Retention laws, and that the municipal clerk has not enforced the compliance with those laws,” Biggs said. “After we requested all electronic messages sent in the last 90 days during the assembly meetings (and paid thousands of dollars to get them), Chris Constant produced nothing except a statement that he deletes messages automatically every seven days.”
Deleting communications that pertain to legislation, however, is a violation of public records and retention laws.
Biggs’ public records request shows that Dunbar admitted using Signal (the secret message auto delete app) and then claimed it was because he had been cyberattacked.
“Meg Zaletel also claimed that a software update deleted her texts, and failed to provide an explanation why those public records would not be easily recoverable (or why they were not saved to begin with), also violating the public records retention laws,” Biggs said.
He noted that the clerk has failed to enforce compliance on the assembly members, which is one of her duties.
“This is exactly the same type of behavior that has landed a slew of state legislators in legal trouble over the last few years,” Biggs added, “because they believe that one, these cases won’t end up in Superior Court or Supreme Court if necessary, and two, that Signal won’t produce those records under a subpoena. They will.”
Biggs is considering legal action against the clerk.
“What that will look like is uncertain, but you can bet that the same legislators that redacted hundreds of pages of their communications with the Blue Alaskan/AK Dems Communications Director and then sealed the executive sessions indefinitely without disclosing why are going to fight this tooth and nail,” he said. “The ADN has chosen not to report on any of the prior public records settlements involving the clerk, or two separate letters to the editor that explained the circumstances that forced the muni to settle these cases for several thousand dollars.”