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Conservative/Libertarian group holds local training

Members of American for Prosperity visit the Alaska House chambers on Wednesday, March 22.
Gavel Alaska
Members of American for Prosperity visit the Alaska House chambers on Wednesday, March 22.

Americans For Prosperity is holding a training in Fairbanks this weekend on how to influence lawmakers and community policy.

Americans For Prosperity Community Engagement Director Sarah Hetemi, helped start the political advocacy group’s Alaska chapter about a decade ago, and is organizing Saturday’s free Grassroots Advocate Training.

“ So what we focus on in these classes is how to influence decision makers, local governments, and at the state level and up to federal level,” she said.

Funded across the country by Charles Koch, Americans For Prosperity spent $80 million on right-wing political races in the last two years.

“  We are actually completely nonpartisan. We believe in our issues. They're not Republican or Democrat. They're just free market-based. That tends to be more candidates that are right-leaning or libertarian to support. But it's by no means we only work with those people. It's, it's more just where our issues align,” she said.

The AFP Foundation, which runs the Grassroots Leadership Academy, is the educational arm that offers advocacy training.

Hetemi says rather than large events, the Grassroots Leadership Academy encourages person-to-person communication. She says talking to friends and neighbors is sometimes a more effective way to change policy.

“We also teach folks how to have meaningful conversations. Politics especially can be quite passionate, and sometimes when we are passionate, we lose the good narrative and the good framing, and sometimes we actually lose our talking points and we go straight into emotions,” she said.

Hetemi says Saturday’s day-long training at the Westmark Hotel will teach participants how to identify supporters and mobilize them.

 ”So how can you not do this alone? How can you create either community around you, find a community around you?”

One goal of the organization is to engage with legislators and decision-makers to influence policy.. AFP has not had a registered lobbyist in Alaska since 2021. The group just held a similar workshop in Juneau earlier this month, training advocates to work for libertarian conservative causes like lower taxes and less government regulation.

The training is free but registration is required:

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.