Alaska campaign regulator delays decision on complaint against pro-Dunleavy group

APOC screenshot
In this screenshot from the Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 meeting of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, attorney Scott Kendall (at right) speaks to members of the commission, including chair Anne Helzer (left). Kendall was requesting a speedy hearing for a complaint against the Republican Governors Association. (Screenshot)

The Alaska Public Offices Commission will not rule before the Nov. 8 general election on a complaint against a multimillion-dollar group backing the re-election of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The decision, released late Wednesday, is a reversal of a prior commission action that allowed the commission to consider the complaint before the election. The complaint was filed this month by two politically active nonprofits.

The complaint accused the national Republican Governors Association of structuring a shell organization called A Stronger Alaska in order to evade state campaign disclosure laws. 

The RGA and A Stronger Alaska rejected the accusation, saying in a hearing last week that the RGA had contributed $3 million to A Stronger Alaska, which acted separately from the RGA despite sharing staff, office space and a tax ID number.

In Wednesday’s decision, the public offices commission — in charge of regulating campaign contributions and spending for state-level elections — referred the issue to staff for further investigation.

That investigation could find the RGA in violation of state law, commissioners noted, but Wednesday’s notice does not require the RGA to take preventive action before the election.

The two nonprofits that filed the complaint — the Alaska Public Interest Research Group and the 907 Initiative — had requested that the commission act and penalize the RGA before the election.

Commissioners instructed attorneys for A Stronger Alaska and the RGA to direct their clients to preserve emails, text messages and other records for future investigation.

“Nothing in this order precludes the Republican Governors Association from speaking in its own name during this election cycle,” the order states, “provided it complies with all campaign finance laws.”

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