APOC will wait to hear fundraising complaint against Anchorage lawmaker

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage

The Alaska Public Offices Commission will wait at least two weeks to consider a complaint filed by the Alaska Democratic Party against a practice that would allow Alaska politicians to bypass restrictions on campaign financing.

“The commission has decided that this matter will not be decided on an expedited basis,” said APOC vice-chairman Tom Temple, reading the commission’s decision after brief deliberations Thursday morning.

On Aug. 30, the Democratic Party of Alaska filed a complaint with the commission — which regulates campaign financing in the state — against Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, an Anchorage Republican seeking re-election.

Earlier this year, LeDoux mimicked the actions of federal lawmakers and created her own political action committee to disburse money to fellow lawmakers’ campaigns.

At the federal level, these “leadership PACs” are seen as a way to gain influence with collegues and fight opponents.

At the state level, they also take advantage of a loophole in Alaska’s campaign finance laws. Normally, lobbyists are allowed to contribute to a candidate’s campaign only if they live in that candidate’s district. If a candidate creates a PAC, he or she can get around that restriction.

As the Democratic Party’s complaint states:

“It will only be a matter of time until candidates are laundering illegal contributions back and forth to each other. Candidate A’s group could solicit a contribution from Lobbyist B and then direct it to Candidate C. Candidate C’s group then solicits a contribution from Lobbyist B and directs it to Candidate A.”

The complaint called such a strategy an “end run around the rules” and asked that the commission immediately consider the complaint because of the effect it could have on the November elections. A second PAC has already been set up along the lines set by “Gabby’s Tuesday PAC.”

The commission held a hearing Thursday to address the topic but declined to consider the complaint on an expedited schedule because of comments and pledges made by Tim McKeever, the Anchorage attorney representing LeDoux.

“In the interests of getting more time to present … my client is prepared to not make any further contributions and not accept any contributions from lobbyists while the commission considers this (topic),” he said.

With that pledge in hand, APOC members deliberated in executive session and decided to give both the Democratic Party and McKeever more time to prepare their cases.

“Expect this matter to be scheduled soon after Sept. 15,” Temple said.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at 523-2258 or james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.

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