Some political donations from former Pebble CEO returned in response to his claims in 'The Pebble Tapes’
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When Tom Collier was secretly recorded laying out plans for a mine far larger and more long-lasting than what was put forward to the Army Corps of Engineers, it drew a lot of criticism to an already controversial project nearing the end of its federal permitting process. However, it’s the now-former Pebble Limited Partnership CEO’s comments on his influence over key figures of Alaska’s political landscape that is still making waves.
Some of the campaigns and candidates that received donations from Collier are returning the money, in an effort to distance themselves from the image that Collier painted for two undercover “investors.”
The Republican Minority Leader of the Alaska House of Representatives, Lance Pruitt, has gone public with his decision to send the money to a charity, which he does not wish to name.
“Whatever he may have contributed doesn’t matter. You don’t need that, you don’t want to be associated with that ... so let’s get rid of it,” he told Alaska’s News Source. "Let’s either give it back to them, let’s donate it or something like that. We don’t need that type of attitude or mentality in the political process, in people’s campaigns, in different organizations.”
Pruitt says he also received donations from other individuals working for the company, but he plans to keep those and doesn’t view it as something that will tie his public office to Pebble.
“Anyone that has ever thought it was more than just you supporting me because of where I stand ... I don’t need that money," Pruitt said. "I’m not going to hold onto that money because that’s not who I am, and I’m not the only one who believes that.”
“Defend Alaska Elections,” a group that is opposing Ballot Measure 2 in the upcoming election, has also returned $2,500 in campaign contributions from Collier.
The group’s campaign manager, Brett Huber, says that the lack of ethics and transparency captured on the tapes is not something that “Defend Alaska Elections” wants to be associated with.
“This is a person that was making false claims ... that was exaggerating ... that was talking about the political process in ways that we don’t believe was ethical. Our decision was quite simply, ‘he gave us a check, this has come out, we see what’s behind it now, and we return the check.’ It’s really cut and dry,” Huber said.
On Friday, United States Senate candidate Al Gross publicly demanded that the incumbent Sen. Dan Sullivan return any campaign contributions received from Pebble executives — this is after Sullivan took a hard stance against the mining project on social media.
According to records from the Federal Election Commission, Sullivan, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and U.S. Rep. Don Young have all received donations from Collier in 2020.
Their offices have not provided a response to requests for comment.
Former Pebble CEO John Shively has been tapped as a temporary replacement for Collier. Both Young and Sullivan have received donations from Shively in the last year, as well.
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