Last Tuesday, Blogger and owner of City Debate, JP Morgan, a political blog that focuses on Miami and Miami Beach filed a lawsuit against the State of Alaska because the state has refused to release document access to a settled lawsuit between the State of Alaska and Miami Beach Mayoral Candidate Philip Levine.
The gist of the lawsuit filed by the State of Alaska is that in February of this year, the State of Alaska, filed suit against Royal Media Partners, LLC and Onboard Media, two companies owned by Levine. The suit alleged that both companies were violating Alaska’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act by engaging in unlawful conduct that was unfair or deceptive to cruise ship passengers. The suit further alleged that there was unfair conduct relating to businesses that were unable or unwilling to participate in cruise ship shopping programs.
A little over thirty days later, the suit was settled with Levine’s company paying a $45,000 fine and agreeing to establish certain business procedures in the future.
“Although we have answered these baseless accusations many times already in this campaign, I will reiterate that this is simply a political stunt by Gongora’s henchmen. My company became part of the settlement AFTER it was already started and as a prerequisite to enter into business in Alaska. The amount my company paid was essentially a market entrance fee. So there are no records about my company for Alaska to release. However, this lawsuit by Mr. Morgan does prove our allegations that he is a paid operative of the Gongora Campaign and NOT a journalist or member of the free press. Our campaign is currently investigating the connection between Mr. Morgan, Gongora and Randall Hilliard, who has continued to receive illegal donations through his illegal political committees whose sole purpose is to slander my reputation without regard to the truth.” Philip Levine told the SunPost
What Morgan is suing for, is the public release of the details of the settlement and the lawsuit. Details that the State of Alaska and Royal Media Partners have declined to release to the media. He feels that the details of the lawsuit should be disclosed to the public under the First Amendment to the US Constitution especially because Levine is running for office on Miami Beach.
“In the course of my investigating all candidates that were running for office in Miami Beach I came across the Alaska story about Mr. Levine. I felt that the voters should know, however when Mr. Levine filled complaints with county and state authorities I knew I had something. This caused me to dig further” Morgan told the SunPost.
The State of Alaska, Department of Law did not respond by press time.
Weighing in on this lawsuit is Richard D. Fain, Chairman & C.E.O., Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.
“I was surprised and disappointed to see misleading attacks by opponents of Philip Levine relating to a lawsuit involving several Alaskan tour companies. The lawsuit related to a time period well before Philip and his company had even begun doing business in Alaska. Innuendos to the contrary are deceptive and unworthy. His company was included in the suit apparently to ensure that all ongoing operators were covered. Personally, I thought Philip’s company made the right choice to agree to the amicable class settlement of the case. Philip acted responsibly and ethically throughout and my support for his candidacy reflects my comfort with his strong ethics.”