Alaska GOP accuses Joe Miller of campaign finance violations

Candidate Joe Miller, with family in front row in 2014 (Photo by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage)
Candidate Joe Miller with his family speaking at a 2014 campaign event (Photo by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

The Alaska Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Libertarian senate candidate Joe Miller.

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The GOP alleges Miller is misusing campaign dollars to inflate his real level of support.

The five-page complaint submitted Monday alleges Miller has made numerous violations of federal campaign finance laws — the majority connected to using his for-profit conservative web site “Restoring Liberty” for the promotion of his senate campaign, without paying for it.

Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock said over the phone that Miller failed to pay-back the web site for services like banner-ads, email lists, and calls for campaign donation.

“(It) appears to be an illegal campaign contribution to his campaign, and corporations are prohibited under federal law from contributing to campaigns,” Babcock said.

Among the many claims made by the Alaska GOP: Miller’s campaign uses an office in Anchorage, but doesn’t list rent as an expense, thereby failing to disclose what would be considered an in-kind contribution. The detailed document lists ways that Miller has used the social media accounts of and publicity connected to the Limited Liability Corporation behind the web site “Restoring Liberty,” which Miller claims reaches tens of thousands of people each day.

Babcock said that he doesn’t consider himself a “stickler” for small mistakes in what are often complicated campaign finance reports, but that Miller, who has run twice before for Senate, is demonstrating a pattern that goes beyond simple error.

“He knows the rules, and there’s just no excuse for this. I think he’s doing it because it is easier than going through the trouble of setting up your own web sites and email accounts, I think it’s easier than paying for them. He runs the corporations and he’s making illegal donations through his corporations to his campaign,” Babcock said.

The complaint asks the FEC for an expedited review.

On the same day, Joe Miller held a press conference at his Midtown headquarters in Anchorage to announce news that they’d found irregularities in Murkowski’s federal filings. The Miller campaign said that shortly after he announced his intent to run, Murkowski began paying large sums of money to the Alaska Republican Party, exceeding the amount she and the party are allowed to spend on “coordinated party activities.”

Miller told a small crowd of reporters and supporters his campaign has alerted the FEC to what they’ve characterized as “highly unusual” transfers.”

“We have a campaign to run, we’re gonna be focused on that. We obviously want the Murkowski campaign to understand, as well as the Alaska Republican Party, that they’re going to be held to the extent of the law, and we expect them to comply with the law.”

Miller has not filed the complaint formally with the FEC, saying the review time would put a decision after the election.

He also denied any improprieties in his filings, saying that while there might be minor errors in figures reported, the campaign has complied in reporting in-kind contributions.

Miller disagreed with the Alaska Republican Party’s claim that using resources from his “Restoring Liberty” website amounted to a violation of rules over corporate contributions.

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah