Alaska’s political campaign regulator has found no evidence of ongoing coordination between Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s re-election campaign and a third-party group supporting Dunleavy, the Alaska Public Offices Commission said Monday.
The decision means no action by the commission before the Nov. 8 general election, though commission staff will continue to investigate whether the campaign and group previously coordinated via Brett Huber, a former campaign deputy treasurer hired as a consultant by the third-party group.
Monday’s ruling followed a complaint by the Alaska Public Interest Research Group and the 907 Initiative, two politically active nonprofits that alleged illegal collusion.
Under state law, campaigns and third-party independent expenditure groups are not allowed to coordinate campaign spending with each other.
Huber’s dual-hatted role was identified in a May article by the Anchorage Daily News, and Dunleavy’s campaign dropped him as a deputy treasurer immediately after its publication.
Huber stayed a consultant for a pro-Dunleavy third-party group known as A Stronger Alaska, which prompted the two nonprofits to file a complaint in September.
The nonprofits requested a pre-election hearing after A Stronger Alaska balked at regulators’ request for various documents. The delay could have meant no action would take place until after the election.
The commission granted the request for a hearing, which took place Friday, but attorney Scott Kendall was unable to demonstrate to commissioners’ satisfaction that the Dunleavy campaign and A Stronger Alaska were continuing to coordinate, thus requiring immediate action by the commission.
Kendall said on Monday by text message that he disagrees with the outcome but “had an uphill battle” to convince commissioners because complainants were working only from public documents “and without the ability to compel documents or testimony.”
In Friday’s hearing, Huber testified that he was listed as a deputy treasurer for the campaign because of a paperwork error and was not in a position to direct spending for A Stronger Alaska.
Financial disclosures indicate A Stronger Alaska has already begun a direct-mail campaign and is conducting polling in support of Dunleavy’s campaign.
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