Alaska Statute 19.25.105 prohibits “outdoor advertising” on or within 660 feet of state rights-of-way for interstate, primary, and secondary highways within Alaska. This statute effectively prohibits thousands of Alaskans from displaying political speech anywhere on their own property.
Using this statute as justification, on July 10, 2018 the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) sent a notice to Dunleavy for Alaska threatening financial and criminal sanctions for posting political signs within the view of certain roadways. According to multiple media reports quoting DOT officials, this was part of a planned “sweep” of signs near roadways. Photo evidence clearly shows this sweep specifically targeted political signs while leaving adjacent non-political signs untouched.
One of those articles includes statements from DOT spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy that of the 200 to 250 political signs tagged for removal in Anchorage as part of this sweep, only “about 50” posed “immediate safety concerns.” This statement makes it clear the overwhelming majority of the removed signs posed little or no risk to the public.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska (ACLU), independent expenditure group Dunleavy for Alaska, and Alaska resident Eric Siebels jointly filed suit against the State of Alaska seeking to immediately block enforcement of a state statute barring political signs near roadways and asking for those rules to be struck down as unconstitutional.