Anchorage state House candidate prepares for election and a felony trial

Lisa (Vaught) Simpson is seen in this 2016 campaign photo with two of her children. Simpson is running for an Anchorage state House seat while preparing for a felony voter-interference trial. (Handout photo)

by James Brooks, Alaska Beacon
June 30, 2022

If all goes as Lisa Simpson expects, she will win the August primary for an Anchorage state House seat and be cleared of several felonies about the same time.

Simpson, a former aide to Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, is facing trial in August alongside her former boss. Both have been accused, as has Simpson’s son, of encouraging illegal votes in state legislative races in 2014 and 2018. 

The trial is tentatively scheduled to take place at the same time as the state’s Aug. 16 primary election. Simpson has registered as a candidate for House District 22, which covers northeast Anchorage north of DeBarr Road and east of Pine Street.

Two other candidates — Democrat Ted Eischeid and Republican Stanley Wright — have also registered for the race. But because Alaska’s election system permits up to four candidates to advance to the general election, Simpson, Eischeid and Wright will all appear on the November ballot.

“I’m hoping it will be resolved before November,” Simpson said of her legal struggle.

A trial call in Simpson’s case is scheduled for July 12, with a trial possible one month later.

She said it’s “unusual, but it’s not unheard of,” for someone accused of a felony to run for state office.

In 2018, for example, a candidate for state Senate in Anchorage was on the ballot despite facing felony fraud charges. She lost the election and later reached a plea deal, according to online court records.

Asked whether running in an election while facing felony charges is like hiking with a rock in her backpack, she said that analogy is a good one.

“You’re right. It is definitely a rock in the backpack. But I am, as I said, hoping it will be resolved before the election,” Simpson said.

The state is accusing Simpson, LeDoux and Simpson’s son of attempting to get voters to illegally participate in elections within LeDoux’s district. 

Because the filing deadline for this year’s election was June 1, Simpson said she had to register before knowing the outcome of her trial.

“You know, you can’t jump in midstream, and I’ve been here in northeast Anchorage for quite a long time,” she said.

Simpson, formerly Lisa Vaught, worked for seven years as a legislative aide and has run for House twice before. Both attempts were unsuccessful. 

In 2012, she was the sole Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, but lost to him by eight percentage points in the general election. Four years later, she lost a Republican primary to Don Hadley by 32 percentage points; Hadley went on to lose to Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage.

Simpson spoke by phone briefly on June 20 and said she would answer additional questions by email afterward within a week. No email arrived from Simpson, and she did not answer followup calls. 

During her 2016 race for House, she said she would support reduced government spending, traditional resource development — a common euphemism for mining, logging and oil and gas drilling — and “support traditional family values. I am pro-life,” her campaign materials said.

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: [email protected] Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and Twitter.

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