Anchorage ombudsman substantiates several allegations made by ousted city manager

three people at a table
Mayor Dave Bronson at a 2021 news conference along with then-City Manager Amy Demboski and then-Health Director David Morgan. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

An independent investigator has concluded several allegations of illegal, unethical and unprofessional behavior among high-level officials in Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration are valid. 

Anchorage Ombudsman Darrel Hess released a 20-page report Wednesday describing his investigation into complaints filed in December 2022. Hess doesn’t name the complainant, but an attorney for Amy Demboski, Bronson’s first municipal manager who he abruptly fired at the end of 2022, confirms Demboski is the complainant. 

Demboski has publicly said the work environment was toxic, accused the mayor and other high-level officials of a wide range of inappropriate behavior, and sued the mayor for wrongful termination.  

In his report, the ombudsman concludes that three of the Demboski’s six allegations filed in his office were justified: 

  • City workers knowingly violated city code when they raised the capacity of the city-run, mass homeless shelter at the Sullivan Arena. 
  • Sole-source contracts awarded to Larry Baker to serve as a senior policy advisor did not follow the city’s purchasing code. 
  • The city Purchasing Director Rachelle Alger distributed penis-shaped cookies to workers at City Hall, though the city’s Human Resources Department did follow up with disciplinary action. 

In a letter to the ombudsman ahead of the report’s publication, Alger objected to references to private material that hurt her reputation, the ombudsman’s conclusion on the Baker contracts, the rehashing of a settled disciplinary matter, and a legal issue that did delay the report’s publication. 

A fourth allegation that Baker pressured city prosecutors to drop domestic violence charges against a business partner was referred to another agency. 

The ombudsman’s report also concluded two of Demboski’s complaints were not valid. 

Lawyer Scott Kendall is representing Demboski in her wrongful termination lawsuit. In a statement, he said she is pleased with the ombudsman’s investigation. 

“Ms. Demboski believes, and has always believed, that the public is entitled to public officials who will uphold the law and the highest of ethical standards,” Kendall said. 

The heart of Demboski’s wrongful termination claim is that her firing was illegal retaliation for, in Kendall’s words, her “attempts to rein in the Bronson administration’s unethical and illegal activities.” 

Veronica Hoxie, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, called attention to the timing of the release of the ombudsman’s report. Voting is underway in the city’s election, which ends April 2, and Bronson is running for reelection. 

“The allegations of this report are nearly two years old, if not older,” Hoxie said. “They’ve been handled, they’ve been addressed. But there is some concern around the timing of the release of this report, especially, you know, being two weeks away from a municipal election. And you have the Ombudsman’s Office that is hired by, paid for and funded via the Anchorage Assembly, the same body of government that oversees municipal elections.” 

Hoxie said it was just an observation, and did not explicitly allege ulterior motives. 

In the report, Hess did address some timing issues. He said he intended to release the report on Feb. 9, but it got delayed by competing legal interpretations over when the office must drop investigations. A code change, which the mayor vetoed and the Assembly overrode Tuesday night, resolved the legal ambiguity. 

Jeremy Hsieh covers Anchorage with an emphasis on housing, homelessness, infrastructure and development. Reach him at or 907-550-8428. Read more about Jeremy here.

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