Alaska looks to controversial PR firm to promote Arctic Refuge drilling

In the face of broad public opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Alaska legislature has … abandoned its push for drilling? Don’t be silly! No, the legislature’s hired a PR firm to sell the joys of drilling to a skeptical public. The firm expected to get the job, Pac/West Communications, and its president, Paul Phillips, have reputations for shiftiness: In 1990, Phillips, then an Oregon state senator, was fined $17,000 for using his lawmaker status to advance his side job as a political consultant. Two years ago, while working to defeat an initiative to ban bear-baiting in Alaska, a Pac/West employee tried to register nine pro-bear group names to keep anti-baiting groups from using them — a practice that’s frowned upon. Anti-drilling Alaska legislators have expressed fear that PR campaigns in their districts might affect elections, which Phillips says will “absolutely not” happen. And surely we can trust him.