Bronson hit with maximum fine for hiding campaign activity from the public

Mayor Dave Bronson. (Photo courtesy The Blue Alaskan)

Alaska campaign finance regulators have levied the maximum possible fine against Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s campaign for a repeated pattern of incomplete and misleading reports that had the result of never giving the public a clear picture of campaign was up to until well after he won office.

In a scathing report, the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Monday confirmed a $38,500 fine against Bronson for Mayor for failing to file complete reports throughout the municipal election that omitted big-ticket contributions, included over-the-limit contributions and concealed its relationship with consultants.

The complaints were brought by the campaign of Forrest Dunbar, who lost to Bronson by 1,194 votes out of 90,680 cast in the run-off election, ahead of election day. Dunbar’s campaign asked for expedited consideration of the complaints ahead of the election, but the commission declined and took the Bronson campaign’s word that the problems would be quickly fixed.

They weren’t.

The final report takes note of the “pervasiveness of the violations” and how “despite filing a total of seventeen amendments to the four reports, Bronson for Mayor never fully complied with its reporting obligations.”

“The Commission gave Bronson for Mayor an opportunity to provide the public with accurate reports after expedited consideration was denied and in advance of the runoff election, yet BFM did not do so,” says the report in its conclusion. “Moreover, the commission concludes that a penalty less than the maximum here would not serve the important function of encouraging campaigns to employ campaign treasurers with the skills and training to comply with APOC regulations. The public deserves timely and accurate reporting of a campaign’s financial activity.”

It’s just one of several campaign finance complaints brought against the extreme-right mayor. In separate complaints, APOC staff has recommended a $15,500 fine and a $18,000 fine for failing to report contributions in the run up to the April municipal election. The commission also on Monday issued a final order confirming a $50 fine for a similar report that was filed a day late in the run-off election. Bronson has also paid a $67.50 fine for filing his letter of intent—a document allowing candidates to begin fundraising and campaigning—nearly a month late.

The commission didn’t issue penalties for several over-the-limit contributions in light of a recent court ruling that struck down the state’s current campaign contribution limits.

Dunbar campaign treasurer Paula DeLaiarro, who brought the complaints against the campaign, said in a prepared statement that she was appreciative that the regulators took the violations seriously. She said she hopes it sends a clear message.

“In effect, their non-compliance and delay tactics were rewarded, due to the timing of the Court’s recent ruling on contribution limits,” she said. “But contribution overages notwithstanding, the Commission’s assessment of the maximum civil penalties for Bronson for Mayor’s campaign finance reporting violations sends a clear signal that haphazard, late reporting will not be tolerated and will meet with commensurate fines.”

Why it matters

Bronson’s still mayor.

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