‘Utterly confusing’ campaign reporting leads to $52,650 fine recommendation for Bronson campaign

a person behind a podium at a press conference
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson announces four directives for city operations on July 1, 2021, his first day in office. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s campaign violated numerous campaign finance laws and should be fined $52,650, according to a recent report by staff at the state agency that investigates campaign finance violations. 

Staff from the Alaska Public Offices Commission, or APOC, wrote in the report released Friday that the Bronson campaign’s “utterly confusing” campaign disclosure reports meant the public didn’t know how donations were being spent until after the election. 

For example, the report said, Bronson’s campaign didn’t report a $95,000 debt to Hackney and Hackney, a political consultant, until May 11 — the day voting closed in the run-off election — even though it had spent that money eight months before. And, it didn’t report an $80,000 debt to Axiom, a national political consulting firm, until May 11, even though the campaign signed an agreement with the company on Feb. 4.

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The Bronson campaign also accepted what were found to be several illegal campaign contributions, said the APOC report. State law requires that individual contributions over $500 be returned within 10 days. The Bronson campaign didn’t return contributions over that amount to two donors. It also didn’t return an additional $500 contribution to Jerry Prevo, the former leader of Anchorage Baptist Temple, until a month after it received it. 

The complaints were filed by Bronson’s opponent in the mayoral election, Forrest Dunbar, in April. 

The Bronson campaign has 10 days to respond to the report by APOC’s staff.

Stacey Stone, a lawyer representing the Bronson for Mayor campaign, acknowledged in an email that the campaign made mistakes in its reporting, but called the recommended fine amount “disproportionate” and “outlandish.” She said the campaign is cooperating with APOC. 

APOC will then make the final decision on whether to fine Bronson’s campaign, and the amount of the fine.

This story has been updated to include a comment from the Bronson for Mayor campaign.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the amount of the fine recommended. It is $52,650, not $52,640.

Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@gmail.com.

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