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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.

She also forgot to disclose her membership on the board of the group in 2011 and 2012, as required by law. That helps the public determine whether legislative workers may have a conflict of interest. You know, like when Sawyer opened a bank account under the name “Stop Islamization of America” and listed herself as the secretary/treasurer.  And when the ethics committee asked her to separate Gatto’s office from the work of the group back in August of 2011, she didn’t. And, of course, she refused to cooperate, or acknowledge that there was a problem.
So there we have it. You and I are no longer sponsoring a hate group, so that’s good. But, alas, Rep. Hughes has a sad because Ms. Sawyer was “beloved,” “loyal,” and “efficient,” although even Hughes acknowledged that there is no room for this type of behavior in public life.



18 Responses to “Leg Office Space for Hate Group?”
  1. Tales from Wasilla. You can’t make this stuff up.


  2. Zyxomma says:

    OK. I have a question for Pamela Geller. WHAT clocks hanging above the platforms of the NYC subway? I’ve been taking the subways since shortly after I was born. The only clocks in the station are in the workers’ booths (formerly token booths, where one can purchase or fill a MetroCard if a machine is unavailable, or ask a question, or exchange a MetroCard that no longer works but still has funds on it).

    A recent addition to many of the subway platforms is a lighted display that tells passengers which trains are coming, in how many minutes. That’s the closest thing to a clock on the platform, and it hangs overhead. There is NO advertising space on or adjacent to it. The only advertising space is on (some of) the walls, and it’s all billboards, which are often defaced; sometimes hilariously, sometimes childishly, sometimes both.

    The “savages” brouhaha was not on the NYC subway, it was on MetroNorth platforms. MetroNorth is a division of the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), with trains both east and west of the Hudson.

    Dhimmi, btw, are “protected people.” In Islamic Spain, it was a term used for both Christians and Jews, who were free to practice their religions and their professions, and paid a tax to the Muslims in charge.

  3. tallimat says:

    Hughes worked for Gatto.

    Hughes worked with the hate group participant.

    Hughes hired the hate group groupie, as her chief of staff.

    Hughes will act all cutie, religious and clueless when the obvious is pointed out to her. Like the guy passing out hate group propaganda, that she walks by everyday while going into her publically funded office.

    The mat Su valley rebiblican taliban is alive and well with Shelly Hughes as their cheerleader. With pom poms and loud live music and bibles soaked in red dye with little elephant stickers.
    “Oh, a little anti sharia law info won’t hurt us good living, bible caring good people of the mat Su… Bless you for your concerns…”

    When my girls asked about critical thinking and its meaning, Hughes was the example of person who is far from thinking critical about anything.

  4. Alaska Pi says:

    When I first read this in the paper I didn’t realize the SIOA was founded by Ms Geller.
    Ew, ew, ewwww.
    Should have at least wondered but didn’t.
    Loyal-efficient-beloved ?
    C’mon Ms Hughes.
    How about furtive-obsessed-rube?

  5. Anch2020 Keep Anchorage Fireworks Free says:

    I learn so much from Mudflats.. news I find no where else. But, you know, somehow, it doesn’t leave me
    buoyed with optimism…. sigh….

  6. This is totally creepy………!

  7. Mo says:

    Wonkette, Wonkette, will you please come to the white courtesy telephone?

  8. The Wolfman says:

    I heard there were “secret societies” besides these “militia groups” in Alaska…and the head of it in Alaska is the governor himself…nice hu?

    • Just Sayin says:

      And Palin has stock in gun manufacturers…those Ritcher Investments doncha know…lol…but I hear Russia got the low down on Palin’s and Parnell’s crimes and pulled the adoption deal with the USA and demand that the USA go after officials who violated human rights…cling to those guns baby Sarah…from Russia with love baby…it’s God’s Will hun…

  9. John says:

    I am shocked.! Absolutely shocked that that the legislature actually fired her. Of course she deserved to be fired, if not criminally prosecuted for misuse of state resources, but given our current legislature, I would have expected her to get a raise for promoting hate.

    • Valley_Independent says:

      I’d like to have seen the criminal prosecution too, but won’t be holding my breath. Of course, I’d also like to see an investigation into what Hughes knew, as a former Gatto staffer, about this prior to hiring Ms. Sawyer.

      If Hughes knew about Sawyer’s activities, and one would think she would have reason to have known, and did not report it as an ethics violation, then one might conclude that Ms. Hughes is unethical as well.

      Not that this would be surprising in the least to this resident of the Mat-Su Valley. Given the appalling behavior of some of the members of the Mat-Su Republican Women, it should be regarded as a hate group in its own right.

  10. slipstream says:

    Oh, those wacky wacky Wasillipublicans! Who follows the orders of an ethics committee, anyway?

    But wait! Hughes is missing the REAL THREAT! This is WAY MORE IMPORTANT cause it happens IN TWO DAYS and it is those MAYANS deciding that the world will end! IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD, and some furringers somehow got to decide that the world will end, cause they hate America!

    MAYANS aren’t rill Americans anyway! MAYANS are from America! RILL AMERICANS are from Europe!

    And besides they talk funny. What we need is laws declaring that ENGLISH is the only rill American language, and that no furringers are allowed to end the world. Only Donald Trump can do that!

    Wake up, people! ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT! And funny talking furringers! Probably Nazi socialists from New York City! Flee to Wasilla before the gummit comes and takes away all yer guns!

    • beth. says:

      slipstream!!! — your right!!!!!!!!!! beth.

      • slipstream says:

        ONLY ONE DAY LEFT !!!!!!!! I gotta use more exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!

        • slipstream says:

          and . . . the world ended. Over. Done. Gone. Aren’t you sorry you didn’t listen to me?

          And now . . . hmmm, cheese enchiladas. Yum!!!

          • Valley_Independent says:

            Slip, there is much to love about you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            Thanks for giving me my first laugh of the day.

            Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Festivus, Solstice, and whatever anyone else wants to celebrate (choose one or more) and, since we are clearly still here, a Happy New Year to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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