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APOC staff recommends fine for Fairbanks mayor

Posted: January 22, 2014 - 12:02am

FAIRBANKS — Alaska Public Offices Commission staff members have recommended that the new mayor of Fairbanks be fined nearly $4,000 for campaign finance violations.

A staff report also said that Mayor John Eberhart, who was elected in October to his first term, should be ordered to reimburse his employer $384 for using office equipment.

Eberhart plans to contest the recommendation, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. The case is on the agenda for the commission meeting in February.

APOC staff attorney Heather Hebdon in a report said Eberhart on two occasions accepted non-monetary contributions from corporations. Alaska law bans corporate campaign contributions.

Eberhart during the campaign used office phones and a copier belonging to his employer, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Hebdon said.

His campaign also accepted $500 in catering from Cafe De Paris Catering Co., she said.

The staff report recommends a fine of $3,943 and reimbursement of $384 to Tanana Chiefs for use of the office equipment.

Hebdon called acceptance of the Cafe De Paris contribution an “egregious violation.” Eberhart assumed the catering business was a sole proprietorship, which can contribute to campaigns, the report said. He should have been more diligent about researching its ownership, Hebdon said.

Eberhart’s campaign reimbursed the catering company $500 after APOC staff brought the issue to the campaign’s attention.

Eberhart and APOC staff members differ widely on the value of photocopies and phone service used in the Tanana Chiefs office. Eberhart, an attorney for the nonprofit organization, claimed he used services valued at $33.18, not the $384.25 claimed by APOC staff.

Eberhart defeated Vivian Stiver in the mayoral race. The APOC staff had recommended she be fined $1,300 for a similar issue, using the Ranch Motel to collect campaign contributions. The staff estimated she had received a benefit of $31.69 in motel staff time and office space.

The commission voted to fine the Stiver’s campaign $650.

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