Alaskan Bush People star Billy Brown has said a lot about the oil revenue fraud case that formed the foundation of this season. Yet there are two words noticeably absent from his version of events: "I'm sorry." It's rather irksome because the show's propaganda would have viewers believe the Browns were innocent victims of "The Man" hounding them for no reason.
Knowing what I do about the case as reported by reputable Alaskan news sources, I am having a hard time stomaching the unapologetic lies Alaskan Bush People is telling its audience about what happened and how the Browns got into trouble. It's time for a refresher as to why the Browns got busted. Especially with the show determined to portray them as "bush martyrs."It helps to go back to the very first season of Alaskan Bush People. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the show was originally intended to be a short-lived documentary. The premise? Have the Browns reenact the alleged events of Billy Brown's book One Wave At A Time. Which, given the fact that the group wound up on a boat by the end of their "bush people" venture, seems to be exactly what happened.
Before the events of that season, the "Wolf Pack" lived outside of Alaska between 2009 and 2012. Allegedly, the reason for their departure was to promote Billy's book and shop around for a possible TV deal. This explanation fails to change the reality of the situation, which is that despite what the Browns claimed on their Permanent Fund Dividend, or PFD applications, they weren't in Alaska. As reported by Alaska Dispatch-News, several family members were charged for actively lying about their residency during the years they weren't in the state.
That's very significant. Throughout this season of Alaskan Bush People, the Browns and producers have attempted to paint an absurd picture of the fraud case. For instance, pretending the Browns' entire way of life was somehow on trial. The program also offered up an incomplete explanation of the trial, acting as if the Browns were charged with fraud while still within the state of Alaska. Again, they weren't in Alaska during the years in question, despite what they claimed on PFD forms. That was the whole point of the fraud case.It's not as if Billy Brown and his family lived in a tiny wooden shack in the Alaskan wilderness for the years the state found them culpable. The Browns were physically outside of Alaska. To receive the "Dividend," as the shared oil revenue profits are known among Alaskans, you cannot be outside of the state of Alaska for a period greater than 180 days in a single year.
And yet according to Dispatch-News, they were.
"Scott Stair, investigations manager with the Alaska Department of Revenue, said Thursday that an out-of-state fraud tip prompted the Alaska Department of Revenue to investigate the Brown family.There you have it. The Alaskan Bush People stars lied about being in Alaska so they could reap thousands of dollars to which they knew they weren't entitled.
"Stair said that between October 2009 and August 2012, the family did not meet the 'physical presence requirement' to receive PFDs. This means the state believes the family spent more than 180 days a year living outside of Alaska and lied about it on their applications, Stair said."
The case wasn't an attack on their way of life. It certainly wasn't a witch hunt. Billy Brown and his "pioneer ways" aren't being corralled by a cold, mechanical, modern-day system. It was simply the state of Alaska defending itself from being scammed by a man who was perfectly willing to lie about his location so he could get free money. Even worse, he had no problem letting his wife and children also lie -- putting them at risk of being sent to prison along beside him. In the case of son Joshua "Bam Bam" Brown, that's exactly what ultimately happened. It could have ALL been avoided by being honest in the first place.
And yet, Billy Brown refuses to own up to his behavior and has repeatedly used Alaskan Bush People as a vehicle for painting himself as an innocent victim while smearing the state of Alaska he supposedly loves.Interestingly enough, this is one of at least a couple of instances of questionable behaviors by Billy Brown this season alone. When it came to his estranged daughter, Twila, her vindictive relatives were supposedly to blame for keeping the two apart. It later came out that Brown lied about not hearing from his daughter for decades, and Radar claimed she reportedly felt he'd abandoned her. With the fraud scandal, we're supposed to believe the overzealous state of Alaska is at fault.
It's starting to sound like Billy is someone incapable of taking responsibility for his actions, no matter what kind of harm they can cause the people around him. It's especially disturbing that Alaskan Bush People producers are happy to help him throw Alaska under the bus. This very same state is allowing Alaskan Bush People and dozens of other Alaska wilderness-themed TV shows to film on location while enjoying generous tax credits.
The Los Angeles Times commented on those tax breaks.
"What's strange is that this cringe-worthy montage has been subsidized by the state of Alaska. One-third or more of a production's costs can be refunded through a film incentive program launched under Palin in 2008."So really, this inappropriate attempt at martyrdom is a terrible look for all parties involved. The Browns are reaping what they've sown -- and what they've sown is a peach of a plea agreement.
Things could have ended so much worse for the Browns. The state could have put more than half the family in jail. The youngest daughter, Rain, could have wound up in foster care. They could have been charged even more money by the state. It's also likely additional seasons of Alaskan Bush People would have been out of the question.
The punishment instead involved two male family members being electronically monitored outside of prison for about a month and then being free to return home. They also were made to pay back the state -- but with revenue earned from their reality TV show, it's possible this was relatively easy. In fact, I do not recall the show mentioning the Browns paying back the money at all, an omission which is highly peculiar. Are Alaskan Bush People producers hoping to avoid explaining how a bush family living in the wilds of Alaska find the thousands of dollars needed to pay their fines?Getting back to the original point of the post, I find the Browns' behavior -- Billy Brown's in particular -- disturbing and rather ungrateful. They were blessed to virtually get away with theft and dishonesty, yet there doesn't seem to be the slightest bit of remorse on their part. It feels a little manipulative to the point I am concerned that this type of thinking and behavior might be the norm for them.
There are certainly rumors across the internet eagerly suggesting what bridge-burning trolls the Browns are. Yet, it's the on-camera speeches and behavior that seem to be proving there is indeed something rotten in the state of Alaska.
What do you think: Has Alaskan Bush People's Billy Brown expressed adequate remorse in connection to the fraud scandal? Please share your feelings as to why or why not below!
[Image via the Discovery Channel]