The Alaska Public Offices Commission has determined that the securing of more than $1.5 million in television advertising last spring for this fall’s gubernatorial race in the Nov. general election did indeed violate state campaign finance laws. 

APOC – the agency which oversees interpretation of complaints regarding public campaigns – fined two political action groups each $4,450.

The Republican Governors Association – a Washington, D.C. based group that has been active in past Alaska elections – and its affiliated group, Families for Alaska’s Future – Dunleavy, were each fined on Oct. 5 after two days of testimony from representatives of the Walker Mallott for Alaska campaign which had earlier filed a complaint against each group alleging that failure to file with APOC back in April when advertising contracts with Anchorage-based television stations were reserved violated state campaign finance laws.

Mike Dunleavy, the Republican candidate for Alaska governor, was not named in the complaint as he is not officially affiliated with the Families group, which is considered an independent expenditure group in political terms; in layman’s terms an IE group is one that works to either oppose or promote a specific candidate independent of the candidate’s own campaign efforts.

IE groups are allowed to raise an indefinite amount of political funding. However, Alaska campaign finance laws – some of the strictest in the nation – require that IE groups such as RGA and Families register with APOC prior to raising funds and or making expenditures.

Neither group had registered by April 2018 – the time frame that documents presented by the Walker-Mallott campaign indicated that RGA was reserving significant amounts of television air time in Alaska.

Families registered with APOC in June 2018. RGA has yet to do so.

On Aug. 23, 2018, an East Coast advertising agency frequently retained by RGA transferred the reserved time to Families for the purpose of advertising on the Anchorage television stations.

Walker Mallott for Alaska accused RGA of working as a front organization for Families. The complaints filed with APOC provided documentation from APOC records that Families had raised more than $2.7 million with only $7,000 of that not attributable to RGA.

Both the complainant – Walker Mallott for Alaska – and the two respondents – Families for Alaska’s Future – Dunleavy and the Republican Governor’s Association – can appeal the amount of the fine.

State campaign finance laws allow for $50 per day for the duration of violation.

APOC officials opted to reduce the fine by half – another move allowed under state law in instances where the guilty is either a first-time offender or an inexperienced filer – specifically a group that has been under required filing status for less than 365 days.

The television advertising referenced in the complaint against Families and RGA continues to air on Anchorage television stations with the largest chunk being seen on KTUU.

Reach Amy Armstrong via email at: authoramyarmstrong@gmail.com.

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