Gov. Mike Dunleavy removed Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard from the state Human Rights Commission on Tuesday over comments she made on social media defending Nazi terminology on a pair of custom Alaska license plates.
“The comments made by Ms. Allard regarding the license plate controversy have become a distraction for the Human Rights Commission and its mission to ensure equality and fair treatment of all Alaskans,” Dunleavy spokesperson Jeff Turner wrote in an emailed statement, “Governor Dunleavy felt it was in the best interest of the board to remove her effective immediately.”
Over the weekend, photos of two license plates that read “FUHRER” and “3REICH” were circulated on social media, sparking condemnation from some users. Both words are associated with Nazi-era Germany and Adolf Hitler.
After Juneau Representative Sara Hannan pledged to find out how the vanity plates were approved, Allard made comments on Facebook arguing that both “fuhrer” and “reich” are simply German words with no offensive connotation. Saying she was defending free speech, Allard wrote on Facebook that “progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition.”
In an emailed statement, Allard said “I appreciate the opportunity to serve Alaskans both on the Anchorage Assembly and previously on the Human Rights Commission. I unequivocally condemn racism in every form, and support the mission of the commission 100%. In light of recent attacks against me, I feel it is best to step aside, so the commission can focus on its work, and it will allow me more time to focus on my Assembly duties.”
Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka said Monday that both plates had been previously recalled and were unauthorized by the Alaska DMV. The DMV prohibits inappropriate or offensive messages on vanity plates. Tshibaka said she was ordering a review of DMV guidelines to determine how the plates were issued.
Anchorage Assembly Chair Felix Rivera said to expect a statement condemning Allard’s comments at Tuesday night’s meeting, with some follow-up action at a meeting next month.
“I think her comments were disappointing. But more than that, they hurt a segment of this population … and I don’t take that lightly,” he said. “I don’t think it should be hard to denounce white supremacy. It should be really easy, actually, to denounce white supremacy and Nazis. So it’s unfortunate that Assembly member Allard couldn’t do the right and frankly, easy thing.”
As a disciplinary action, Rivera said the Assembly could choose to remove Allard from any committee appointments. A stronger option would be to censure her, a step he said has rarely been taken in the past.
This story has been updated with a comment from Assembly member Allard.