Minnery Misrepresents One Anchorage Fundraising
by Mel Green
(Originally posted at Bent Alaska)
Nearly 1,100 Alaskans — about 75% of contributors — have so far donated to One Anchorage, a March 7 press release announced. But it didn’t take long for anti-LGBT leader Jim Minnery to claim that “Outside Gay Rights Funds Bankroll Prop. 5 Supporters,” completely ignoring One Anchorage’s numerous in-state contributors.
Minnery, president of the antigay/antitrans Alaska Family Council and chair of its associated 501(c)(4) advocacy organization Alaska Family Action, is also chair of the anti-Proposition 5 group “Protect Your Rights — Vote No on 5.” Proposition 5, the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative, will, if passed, amend Title 5, Anchorage’s equal rights code, to provide the same legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender identity that are already provided in the Municipality of Anchorage based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age, and physical or mental disability. Prop 5 will be voted on in April 3 Anchorage municipal election.
In an email sent out from the “Protect Your Rights” group with the subject header “Outside Gay Rights Funds Bankroll Prop. 5 Supporters” and a photo showing money being dropped out of a helicopter, Minnery wrote,
Don’t Let Outside Gay and Lesbian Activists Take Away Your Freedoms
We knew it was coming. Outside groups that you may or may not have heard of like the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Pride Foundation and even Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest pouring money into a Municipality of Anchorage election.
They are doing their part to take away your religious liberties and force individuals, business owners and faith based institutions to act contrary to their deeply held convictions or go out of business. They are literally wanting to remove people from the stream of commerce.
It’s Minnery’s claim that religious freedom means that people with “deeply held convictions” should be able to freely fire, evict, refuse to serve, or otherwise discriminate as they please in employment, housing, and public accommodations — at least against LGBT people. His email goes on to plead for Prop 5 opponents to contribute to his own group — a plea urgently underscored by his “outside agitators” scare tactic.
Minnery’s email refers to a March 8 story in the Anchorage Daily News, in which ADN reporter Rosemary Shinohara emphasizes donations to One Anchorage from three organizations based outside the state — $25,000 from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, $10,000 from Pride Foundation (both headquartered in Seattle), and $10,000 from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGTLF) (headquartered in Washington, DC). But she also reports,
Trevor Storrs, spokesman for One Anchorage Yes on Prop 5, said the pro-initiative group has received contributions from 1,100 Alaskans. One Anchorage Yes reported 936 contributions from Anchorage residents to date and in a news release Wednesday said the donations reflect “overwhelming grassroots support.”
But while the ADN story reports on the contributions by Alaskans, its outsized emphasis on the three organizations’ contributions — an emphasis also given by KTUU Channel 2′s story on One Anchorage’s donations — minimizes what One Anchorage has accomplished in its fundraising, especially for readers like Jim Minnery who prefer to avoid the simple math involved. More importantly, the focus on Outside money renders nearly invisible the widespread support Proposition 5 has from residents of the Municipality of Anchorage and from Alaska residents overall, as demonstrated by their financial support for One Anchorage’s campaign to secure equal protection under the law for LGBT Alaskans.
A picture is worth a thousand words. And so yesterday I asked One Anchorage for more detailed information on contributions with which to draw a more complete picture of just who from where is providing financial support to One Anchorage. One Anchorage provided me with an Excel file containing raw donation data as of 10:30 PM on Thursday, March 8 — more current, in fact, than the data reported in the March 7 press release or March 8 media reports, which were based on One Anchorage’s March 2 quarterly filing with the Alaska Public Office Commission (APOC).
The records provided me included data on the names, addresses, contribution amounts, and occupations and workplaces of One Anchorage contributors, as required by APOC. I spent several hours crunching data, especially to consolidate multiple donations made by single contributors, in order to ensure I got an accurate count of unique contributors.
My results are in the pie chart shown below. (Click through on the image to get a larger version of it in PDF format.) The chart summarizes contributions made to One Anchorage through March 8, 2012 — a total of $246,856. Contributions from Alaska donors are represented in pie slices in shades of blue; contributions from donors outside Alaska — including the three organizations that the Anchorage Daily News, KTUU Channel 2, and Jim Minnery chose to place most or all their attention on — are represented in shades of green.
Alaska contributions during this period included $179,593 from 1,017 donors in the Municipality of Anchorage — Anchorage proper, as well as Eagle River, Chugiak, Girdwood, and other communities within the Municipality. This amount represented 72.8% of all contributions. Another $7,051 was contributed by 87 donors from 21 Alaska communities outside the Municipality, 2.9% of all donations.
From outside Alaska, besides the big three donors — Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest ($25,000; 10.1% of all donations); Pride Foundation ($10,000; 4.1%); and the NGTLF ($10,000; 4.1%) — another 296 donors contributed $15,212 (6.2%) to One Anchorage.
In total, $186,644 was contributed by 1,104 Alaska donors from the Municipality of Anchorage and 21 other Alaska communities — 75.6% of all contributions, and 78.7% of all donors. A total of $60,212 was contributed from outside the state by 299 donors (including the big three) from 39 states and the District of Columbia.
Snow City Cafe on the day of its “Dine Out for Equality” event, 14 Feb 2012. Photo courtesy One Anchorage.
While a picture’s worth a thousand words, it can’t say everything. The pie chart doesn’t, for example, describe the on-the-ground efforts made by One Anchorage volunteers and supporters over the past few months. There was the petition drive, of course, which culminated in over twice as many signatures as needed being turned in to the municipal clerk’s office last December 8 — but there have also been numerous fundraisers, many of them announced here on Bent Alaska. These have included at least five Dine Out for Equality fundraisers in which a portion of proceeds from various Anchorage eateries during the events were donated to the campaign. Dine Out for Equality events have been held at Schlotzsky’s Deli, Spenard Roadhouse, Snow City Cafe, Sacks Cafe & Restaurant, and Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop just last Friday. Some of the LGBTQA community’s wealth of experienced fundraisers — who every year raise thousands and tens of thousands for the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association, Identity, ICOAA scholarship funds, the Pride Foundation, and other charities and causes — put their minds to raising funds for One Anchorage, including $1,561 at Miss MeMe’s Gospel Christmas Show last December and $1,216 from the Friday Night Divas’ “One Weekend for One Anchorage” fundraiser at Mad Myrna’s Nightclub in January. Proceeds from auctions at the March show for Last Frontier Drag Kings, to be held tonight at the S Lounge, will also go to One Anchorage. And outside Anchorage? A One Anchorage fundraiser organized by University of Alaska Fairbanks students was held last weekend at UAF’s Pub, and word has it that another Fairbanks-organized fundraiser is in the offing.
Pastor Dan Bollerud of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church speaks to a full sanctuary at the Call to Equality prayer service sponsored by Christians for Equality at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 2 Mar 2012.
Most donations, however, have come from individuals, whether through One Anchorage’s website, at private house parties, or through other events, such as a Speakeasy Party at Bernie’s Bungalow or a public screening of Milk starring Sean Penn in his Oscar–winning performance as openly gay politician Harvey Milk. Contributions from individual donors in the Lower 48 and Hawaii really took off on February 9, after Dan Savage — in Anchorage for a “Savage Love Live” talk at University of Alaska Anchorage — posted on his blog about the fight for equal rights in Anchorage and encouraged his readers to donate. One Anchorage took in $2,690 in donations from Lower 48 contributors in that day alone. For the collection taken at last week’s Call to Equality prayer service, sponsored by Christian for Equality, participants were asked to place One Anchorage donation envelopes in the collection plate — after first, of course, filling in the information required by APOC for political campaigns.
A look at the occupations of One Anchorage’s Alaska contributors goes even further to fill in the picture of the broad support that Prop 5 enjoys: all walks of life. Among the occupations held by Alaska contributors, as documented in One Anchorage’s financials:
- small business owners, consultants, managers, corporate executives and CEOs, human resources managers, office managers, data clerks, receptionists, secretaries,
- account executives, bookkeepers, economists, bankers, certified public accountants, insurance adjusters and brokers, consultants, financial advisors,
- university and school administrators, school teachers, teacher assistants, university professors and instructors, librarians,
- anthropologists, environmental scientists and planners, archaeologists, foresters, geologists and geophysicists, biologists, epidemiologists,
- physicians, naturopaths, acupuncturists, nurses, nurse aides, physicians assistants, midwives, physical therapists, massage therapists, dietitians, dental hygienists, radiographers, medics, fitness instructors, psychologists, social workers, counselors and clinicians, alcohol and drug counselors, grants administrators,
- artists, illustrators, graphic designers, musicians, writers and editors, journalists, news announcers, photographers, researchers, interior designers,
- architects, realtors, facilities managers, installers, engineers, programmer analysts and IT techs, electricians, construction workers and contractors, commercial fishermen, drivers, teamsters, mechanics, air traffic controllers, pilots, flight attendants,
- tourism industry workers, bed and breakfast owners, bakers, food servers, baristas, booksellers, hairstylists, retail sales clerks, dog groomers and dog walkers, interpreters,
- attorneys, public defenders, legal secretaries, paralegals and legal assistants, legal secretaries, investigators, court clerks, probation officers, mediators,
- politicians and public officeholders, legislative aides, government workers, planners,
- members of the clergy, homemakers, military personnel, students, retired people,
… and even…
- a beauty queen (retired).
One Anchorage supporters have a lot to feel good about.
And of course, there’s no shame in One Anchorage accepting the contributions of the three “Outside” organizations which are “bankrolling” (but only 18% of) One Anchorage’s campaign. Minnery refers to them as “Outside groups that you may or may not have heard of” — but chances are most LGBTQ Alaskans have heard of at least one of them, at least if they’ve been reading Bent Alaska. Pride Foundation (contributor of $10,000 4% of total contributions), a subject of a number of Bent Alaska posts, is not, in fact, completely an “Outside” organization. Pride Foundation is a philanthropic and community development foundation serving LGBTQA communities the northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska, with fulltime staff members in each of those states. Since becoming Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer for Alaska in 2010, Anchorage resident Tiffany McClain has been all over the state, getting Alaska donors involved with Pride Foundation and making sure that Pride Foundation is responsive to the needs of Alaska’s LGBTQ communities and its donors and grantees. Pride Foundation is only headquartered in Seattle — but it’s an ongoing, active presence in Alaska as well. Check out Tiffany’s posts at the Pride Foundation blog so see some of the various things she and the Pride Foundation have already done in Alaska. She’s one of the Anchorage residents featured in recent One Anchorage “Yes on 5″ logos, such as the one on the top of this post.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW), which contributed $25,000 to One Anchorage (10.1% of total donations), is similarly an active presence in Alaska, though headquartered in Seattle. It has health centers in Idaho, western Washington, and in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, and Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage resident Clover Simon, who heads Anchorage’s PPGNW office, told the Anchorage Daily News that:
her group’s donation on behalf of the initiative is from money it raised, not from government grants or foundation support. Part of the Planned Parenthood mission is to make sure people are not discriminated against, Simon said. The group has been active in similar campaigns in Idaho and Washington, she said.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGTLF) Action Fund, which contributed $10,000 to One Anchorage (4.1% of donations), is a national LGBT rights organization founded in 1974, and works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. Complete equality for LGBT Alaskans is, of course, what One Anchorage is about.
Meanwhile, even as Minnery complained in his March 8 email about “Outside” organizations “pouring money into a Municipality of Anchorage election,” it turns out that he himself is looking for outside contributions. As reported by KTUU Channel 2 News,
Minnery himself said Thursday that Protect Your Rights is actively seeking Outside funding, to help match One Anchorage’s war chest.
“We’re looking to get some money from Outside,” Minnery said. ”I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. More than likely I would say not.”
Minnery declined to say which Outside groups his group is requesting money from….
But word yesterday, by way of KSKA/KAKM’s weekly Alaska Edition, was that Prop 5 opponents (whether Minnery’s group or the group founded by the so-far quiet group chaired by Anchorage Baptist Temple associate pastor Glenn Clary was not specified) are bringing in an Outside PAC with a huge ad buy. On top of that are questions about whether Minnery’s group is properly reporting its own funding sources.
Some might further question Minnery’s sincerity about Outside influence in Anchorage political decisions when they recall how, during public hearings on AO-64, the Anchorage Equal Rights Ordinance, in 2009, youth from Aurora, Colorado on a youth mission to Anchorage were bused to the Loussac Library (where the Anchorage Assembly chambers are located) by the Anchorage Baptist Temple to wave signs printed by Jim Minnery’s Alaska Family Council. Nor have I met anyone who recalls Minnery uttering a word of protest about AO-64 opponents being bused in from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough — noncitizens of the Municipality of Anchorage — and being permitted by Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander to testify against LGBT Anchorage citizens.
But valuation of sincerity, truthtelling, and avoidance of hypocrisy is apparently not among the deeply held convictions for which Minnery is so avid to exercise his religious freedom.
- 7 Mar 2012. “Nearly 1,100 Alaskans Contribute to the Yes on 5 Campaign: Newly Released APOC Reports Show Overwhelming Grassroots Support For Proposition 5, the One Anchorage Initiative” by One Anchorage (press release). (See below.)
- 8 Mar 2012. “Backers of gay rights initiative top opponents in fundraising: So far, opponents of the gay rights initiative have raised less than $5,000″ by Rosemary Shinohara (Anchorage Daily News).
- 8 Mar 2012. “Outside Gay Rights Funds Bankroll Prop. 5 Supporters” by Jim Minnery (Protect Your Rights: Vote No on 5 — email sent 8:39:23 AM AKST). (Full text below.)
- 8 Mar 2012. “Outside Money Helps Fund Debate Over Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative” by Jason Lamb (KTUU Channel 2 News).
- 9 Mar 2012. “Alaska Edition — The Mayoral Race; And The Presidential Preference Poll” with host Michael Cary (alaskapublic.org/KAKM Channel 7/KSKA 91.1 FM). Discussion of the week’s news in Alaska with Paul Jenkins of Anchorage Daily Planet, Steve MacDonald of KTUU Channel 2 News, and Sean Doogan of KTVA Channel 11 News.
- 9 Mar 2012. “Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative Supporters Raise Concerns Over “No on 5″ Funding” by Jason Lamb (KTUU Channel 2 News).
- 10 Jun 2009. “Outside influence” by Mel Green (Henkimaa.com).