Once upon a time, Jamie Allard had a dedicated official Facebook page for her role as an Anchorage Assembly Member. Many politicians utilize social media pages as a way to reach constituents and to keep them informed and to solicit feedback from constituents.
After becoming embroiled in a scandal this past January in which Allard defended Nazi terminology seen on two Alaska vanity license plates, Allard claimed that her official assembly Facebook account had been involuntarily removed by Facebook and that she had been deplatformed. Later reporting by the Alaska Landmine would reveal that Allard deactivated her own Facebook account and had effectively deplatformed herself.
Since her own January social media deplatforming, Allard has regularly used her personal Facebook account to inform the public and her constituents on matters related to the Anchorage Assembly. The assembly member has also used her personal Facebook account to post and comment on social media groups such as “Save Anchorage” and “Open Alaska” directly related to her role on the Assembly and in doing so, has clearly blurred the lines…making it difficult to ascertain when she is acting in a private and personal capacity.
“Save Anchorage” is predominantly a political space where recall efforts are organized, donation links for political candidates are shared and an online space where Allard has encouraged members of the group to participate in email campaigns and sign online petitions related to matters in front of the Assembly. Allard has also used the group via her “personal” Facebook account to attack her fellow colleagues, on the Assembly.
Yesterday, I published a story related to Allard’s role as the designated Health Care Agent for Mr. William Topel and allegations made surrounding his care at Providence Alaska Medical Center. Both Allard and Mr. Topel are members of the politically active “Save Anchorage” Facebook group, where Allard uses her Facebook account to post about matters directly related to her role on the Assembly. Mr. Topel has also testified frequently in front of the Anchorage Assembly.
Today, a retired newspaper editor wrote on Twitter that they had emailed the story to the Anchorage Assembly. In response, Assembly Member Allard is said to have responded that she was acting on Mr. Topel’s behalf not as an assembly member, but as a friend.
It’s an interesting position for a politician to take, especially in light of how the assemblywoman uses her “personal” Facebook account primarily for political purposes, which begs the question:
How exactly are members of the public to know whether Allard is acting in a personal or private capacity when she posts or comments from her Facebook account?
Today, Allard announced on Facebook that she would not be attending this evening’s Assembly meeting in person and on October 9, in response to Assembly Member Kameron Perez-Verdia’s announcement in support of a proposed ordinance that would mandate masks within the Municipality of Anchorage, Allard wrote on Facebook:
“The scheming and bypassing the public process is unbelievable. The Anchorage Assembly will have the super majority to mandate masking via an emergency order of all residents of Anchorage and anyone who enters the Anchorage Municipality.”
On the same day, Allard also shared a link on Facebook to an anti-mask mandate petition — a matter directly before her as a member of the Anchorage Assembly, and on October 7, Allard shared a post to her Facebook account from Anchorage Municipal Manager Amy Demboski, encouraging individuals to “Come to the Assembly tonight; enough is enough! Show up, testify, and let them hear from you.” The post was also shared by Allard to “Save Anchorage.”
So when a local politician who uses her “personal” Facebook account for matters directly related to the Assembly posts a letter from a lawyer that states, among other details, that she is the Power of Attorney for an individual, how does she expect the public to know in what capacity she is acting?
Allard has obfuscated the lines between her personal and professional conduct on social media. Only after becoming embroiled in controversy has she now attempted to draw a distinction between the two — because she has to, after having well established to the constituents and members of the public she hasn’t blocked online — how it is she utilizes her “personal” Facebook account.