Leg Office Space for Hate Group?
It’s not every day that an experienced legislative staffer gets ousted, and banned for life from rehire by the legislature. What could cause such a response from the Committee on Legislative Ethics in the Alaska State House? How about literally giving legislative office space and the keys to the Legislative Offices to some guy from an anti-muslim hate group? Oh, you Mat-Su Republicans can still surprise me after all these years.
Before the start of the new legislative session, Rep. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) has announced the “resignation” of her Chief of Staff Karen Sawyer after the ruling came down. Hughes was appointed to replace the late Carl Gatto (R-Palmer) in May, and was then elected in her own right to serve in that capacity in November.
The late Carl Gatto was infamously known as the guy who wanted to enact a bill prohibiting “foreign laws” in Alaska. He indicated that the intent of his bill (HB88) was specifically to ban Sharia Law from the Last Frontier, because apparently that’s a real problem. (eye roll)
Karen Sawyer, who was working for Gatto at the time apparently got sucked into the shadowy, paranoid world of “anti-Islamization,” and in March of 2011, Sawyer even sent an email cited in the ethics report noting, “My co-workers wonder if I’m getting obsessed with Sharia.”
NOTE: If people who spend a lot of time around you “wonder if you’re getting obsessed” about something, the answer is “yes.” Hopefully, gentle reader, in your case it’s about your actual work, or something real, or making sure everyone has their name on the stuff in the fridge. But in Sawyer’s case, it was about the impending doom of the “Islamization of America.”
During the course of her vital work, making the Last Frontier safe from Sharia Law, she fell in with a guy named David Heckert from the group “Stop Islamization of America,” which is recognized as an anti-muslim hate group by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
The Southern Poverty Law Center named SIOA an anti-Muslim hate group in February 2011, saying that it is a “propaganda powerhouse” that paints moderate Muslims as radical terrorists. The Anti-Defamation League also lists it as a hate group, saying that it “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam” and “seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy ‘American’ values.”
By way of some background, SOIA was founded and is led by a woman named Pamela Geller as a program of their American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). SIOA got its legs as an early driving force in the campaign against the “9/11 Mosque,” an Islamic cultural center in downtown Manhattan.
SIOA has also attempted to sponsor some controversial ads. Her last attempt at an ad, which called muslims “savages,” was refused because, according to her, “the savages might get offended.” The latest advertising brain child of SIOA is a festive new ad campaign for the NY City subway system. The ads are to appear in the space next to each of 220 clocks that hang above subway platforms across the city. The ad campaign will cost approximately $70,000.
The clocks were her latest advertising target, Ms. Geller said, “because metaphorically it’s so powerful. The clock is ticking, from a civilizational point of view.
That’ll put you right in the holiday spirit!
Geller appeared this week in New York City as the featured speaker to the “Gotham Tea Party” group. Her opening line is a classic:
“We are at war, and the time for talk is over. That’s so 10 years ago. “
On the recent horror in Conecticut, and her fears of its potential affect on the 2nd Amendment, she was outspoken about anyone advocating for any new gun restrictions.
“They have no shame, they have no soul. They will exploit the slaughter of these children to further a goal that we know will only undermine our freedoms, and make us and the children less safe.”
Now that you get the idea, let’s head back to Alaska and our obsessed legislative aide as she works feverishly and obsessively on the Anti-Sharia Law bill.
David Heckert, of SIOA was supposedly helping Gatto and Sawyer on the bill, but the committee determined he was primarily using the opportunity to promote the group itself. If you want to check out their website, click HERE. It has lots of red and blue, and font sizes, and yellow highlighting, and links, and even some graphics! I bet somebody’s middle-school nephew got a really good grade on his computer project. (Unless, of course, the teacher figured out it’s a hate group.)
The website is very clear about its feelings on Sharia Law. It says “NO NO NO!” a lot, just to make sure you understand. And sometimes, the NOs are in red and have more than one exclamation point!!!!!!! You can practically feel the Islamic world weakening with every extra use of unnecessary punctuation.
Apparently bewitched by the compelling sales pitch, the liberal use of italics, the color red, and the convincing philosophy laid out by the group, the Mat-Su Republican lost her perspective, and maybe did some things she maybe shouldn’t have done. My emphasis is added below, and yes, I emphasized the entire thing.
Sawyer allowed an operative for the anti-Islam group, a man named David Heckert, to set up shop inside the Wasilla Legislative Information Office, where he worked for months, according to one of two reports about the ethical lapses by the ethics panel that were released Friday. Sawyer let Heckert use her personal laptop and Internet card, and provided him a cellphone number under her family plan. She herself used state equipment to plan events for the group. She even gave Heckert her key to the Wasilla Legislative Information Offices so he could get in while she was out of town, the report said.
Yes, Alaska, your state dollars at work providing work space, and legislative access for hate groups.
In one such instance, during a meeting of SIOA in which HB88 was barely discussed, “participants were offered cookies and cupcakes bearing a symbol that reflected the group’s philosophy,” according to the report. The symbol was not described, but here’s my guess.
Would you like a vanilla hate cupcake, or a chocolate hate cupcake?
“The committee determined that Ms. Sawyer lost sight of the purpose of HB 88 and became personally and obsessively involved with SIOA and its mission,” the report said.