WASILLA - An Alaska Public Offices Commission complaint about an advertisement urging people to "vote no" in Tuesday's Steve Menard recall election has been rejected.
Wasilla resident Stephen Stoll filed the complaint Tuesday alleging a "Vote No on Recall Feb. 7" sticker on the front page of the Sunday, Feb. 5 edition of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman should have contained a "paid for by ..." disclaimer.
Menard lost the recall election with 216 people voting to recall the two-time Wasilla councilman and 92 voting to retain him. Another 94 mail-in, early and absentee ballots will be counted on Friday.
Stoll filed the APOC complaint against Menard and the Frontiersman, but said Wednesday he was notified the complaint was dropped because he didn't target the right people as allegedly violating APOC rules.
John Klapperich of Klapperich and Associates said he brought the contested ad to the newspaper on behalf of Peter Burchell, who paid for the advertisement and is out of the country. Burchell also paid for a flier that was inserted in Sunday's edition, along with radio and mail ads, he said.
Klapperich said he also contacted APOC on behalf of Burchell and was informed that because the "sticky" ad was smaller than 3 inches by 5 inches in size, it didn't need that disclaimer. Klapperich also provided email correspondence with APOC attorney Vullnet Greva.
"For clarification ... and I understand a report is needed to be filed in time and they are being prepared, I also understand per your instructions that printed material less than 3x5 in size, unless it is an actual ad in the content of the newspaper, does not need to have (a) ‘paid for' disclaimer," Klapperich writes.
"Yes, many items that are less than 3x5 in size do not require a ‘paid for by,'" Greva responds. "This does not include ads on the Internet or social networking websites."
Greva also includes an online link for more information on APOC regulations.
That information apparently wasn't correct as it applies to the Feb. 5 ad, said Martha Tansik, an attorney at APOC. That the printed material in this case was then attached to a newspaper is what makes the difference.
"All media ads need to have ‘paid-for bys' on them," she said. "We're rejecting this because it's not the Frontiersman's problem."
If a new complaint is filed targeting Burchell who paid for the ad, he could face a fine of $50, Tansik said.
Contact reporter Greg Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-2269.