Settlement up for approval in campaign violations case

ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Public Offices Commission will consider a settlement in a campaign disclosure violations case involving two independent political groups once linked to Gov. Bill Walker’s deputy chief of staff.

The agreement recommends a fine of $6,370 for Your Future Alaska and $1,388 for Alaskans First, much less than the $86,000 in total fines the groups faced together. The agreement will go before the commission for approval Feb. 10, The Alaska Dispatch News reported.

Marcia Davis, Walker’s deputy chief of staff, registered both groups as nonprofit political corporations before Walker’s election. The agreement says the groups violated campaign laws by keeping the identities of contributors secret as they raised money on behalf of Walker and Democratic candidates in 2014. It also says Your Future Alaska failed to register before it started spending money.

Your Future Alaska contributed $50,000 to Walker Mallott 1, which supported the election of Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, and Alaskans First, which supported Democratic legislative candidates.

The groups used an illegal “pass-through technique” that obscured the actual funding sources to Your Future Alaska, according to the agreement.

“Your Future Alaska, though perhaps unintentionally, acted as an intermediary to pass contributions from one person to another without disclosing the funding’s original source,” the agreement says.

Those that contributed to Your Future Alaska include philanthropist and former grocer Barney Gottstein, who gave $50,000, and Bristol Bay Native Corp., which gave $20,000.

The two political groups were able to avoid higher penalty fees, the agreement said, because mitigating circumstances allowed for reduced fines, including that the groups’ officers were “inexperienced filers.” The undisclosed contributions to the groups also totaled less than $100,000, a small portion of the $3.2 million they raised in the governor’s race.

The agreement, which must be approved by the five-member commission, was signed in December by APOC staff and an attorney for both groups, Thomas Amodio.

Davis said Tuesday that she left the group in November 2014 and had no involvement in the agreement.

Katie Marquette, a spokeswoman for Walker, said the governor’s office won’t take any action as a result of the settlement.

“While the timing of the filing was late and a fine has been levied, APOC’s Consent Agreement went on to say that the contributions made by Your Future Alaska and Alaskans First were permissible, as was the activity both entities engaged in; therefore, we consider the matter closed,” Marquette said.

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com

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