The Alaska Public Offices Commission last week recommended two additional fines—totaling $33,500—against the campaign that put Dave Bronson in the Anchorage mayor’s office. Already, APOC has leveled fines totaling more than $52,000 against the campaign, which it is currently in the process of appealing.
The new fines are brought by APOC staff and find the campaign failed to properly file a pair of 24-hour reports in the run up to Anchorage’s April 6 general election. With the contributions not disclosed until the runoff election, the penalties accrue at $500 per day landing with fines of $15,500 and $18,000.
The 24-hour reports cover the nine days heading into an election and require candidates report any contributions that exceed $250 within 24 hours of receiving them.
Already, APOC’s staff has found many instances of inaccurate and misleading reporting by the Bronson campaign after a complaint was brought by the mayoral campaign of Anchorage Assemblymember Forrest Dunbar. That found several instances of late, inaccurate and incomplete reporting as well as a handful of over-the-limit contributions to the campaign. While the Bronson campaign has claimed it was all unintentional errors, the APOC report said the result was neither the public nor regulators had a clear picture of the campaign until well after votes were cast.
“Finally, after wading through BFM’s utterly confusing reports for many days, it is clear to staff that the public had no idea of what was going on in the BFM campaign until well after the April 6, 2021 election and the May 11, 2021 runoff election,” explained the report.
While APOC has typically reduced or dismissed fines due (sometimes by extreme amounts) due to innocent mistakes and unnoticed errors, the staff had recommended against any reductions in fines against the Bronson campaign under the complaint brought by the Dunbar campaign. According to state law, the agency allowed to assess the maximum fine against a campaign if it has a shown history of poor reporting, which includes late filings, evidence of deliberate non-reporting, failure to cooperate with staff or a variety of other violations of state law.
The notices give the Bronson campaign the option of either paying the fines as is or the campaign can appeal them within 30 days, which can result in them either being dismissed or reduced.
Campaigns are permitted to use excess campaign funds to settle fines, but they can only continue to fundraise for 45 days following an election (a window that has already closed).