Anchorage Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and two others have been charged by the state with several felonies for voter misconduct and unlawful interference in an election for allegations stemming from the 2014 and 2018 elections.
LeDoux along with her former chief of staff Lisa Simpson, formerly Vaught, and Caden Vaught, Simpson’s adult son, collectively face 17 total charges that range from class A misdemeanors to class C felonies. If convicted, the felonies have a presumptive sentence of two years and a maximum of five.
According to court filings today, the charges stem from the group’s alleged attempts to fraudulently register themselves and others to vote in the district despite not living there. The documents say the Alaska State Troopers launched an investigation in August 2018 after “irregularities with a number of applications for absentee ballots” were flagged by the Alaska Division of Elections.
The charges accuse both Simpson and Vaught of registering and casting ballots in the 2018 primary election despite living outside the district. It also outlines several text messages sent by LeDoux encouraging other people to register to vote in the primary, citing the Division of Elections’ prior reluctance to review the eligibility of voters.
“Don’t worry about the legality of this,” she said. “Remember when I wanted to challenge people 4 years ago the division of elections was simply not interested. You own the place so you clearly have the right to claim it as your residence. At this point you would not b able to vote in the district where u r living because u r not registered there. So PLEASE go online and request a ballot.”
The 2018 primary faced intense public scrutiny after a handful of absentee ballots were requested for deceased voters, none of which were sent, that was chalked up to a consultant’s efforts to reach out to the Hmong community in the district. At the time, the Division of Elections said 26 irregular absentee ballots were cast for LeDoux. That consultant died a week after the primary election was certified.
LeDoux ultimately won her primary by a 15-point margin with 456 votes to challenger Aaron Weaver’s 339 votes. She won the general election with 41.6 percent of the vote with the remaining split between the Democratic candidate (34.3 percent) and a write-in Republican (23.9 percent).
The Alaska Constitution forbids the arrest of legislators while the session is underway but that doesn’t apply if a legislator is facing felony charges. Officials with the Alaska Department of Law told reporters on a conference call that LeDoux had been served with the charges and faces a summons next week.
Asked whether any political considerations were made in pressing the charges against LeDoux, who’s been a prime target of the Alaska Republican Party, the officials said, “political considerations played no part in the timing of our action.”
LeDoux was taking part in a House floor session on Friday as the charges were being announced. She took part in a series of votes that would allow the Legislature to close or limit public in-person access to the capitol during the coronavirus outbreak.
The House had moved onto the debate of separate legislation when it took a lengthy at-ease, during which the charges was announced. When the House returned, it promptly voted to end the floor session.
LeDoux was not present for the vote.