State sets $340K fine for campaign violation

Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ANCHORAGE - A $340,000 fine has been proposed for the group Alaskans for Open Government, the top contributor in a campaign to stop the political use of public money.

The group missed deadlines to report contributions and identify donors.

The fine proposed by the Alaska Public Offices Commission would be the largest penalty for a campaign money violation in the state.

The group's lawyer, Ken Jacobus of Anchorage, says it will challenge the fine. He says the group has less than $200 left in its bank account.

Jacobus said Alaskans for Open Government didn't initially file reports with APOC because he didn't think it had to.

"We're really not in the interest of keeping anything secret because part of the initiative is for transparency," Jacobus said.

The Anchorage Daily News reports it's the latest twist in the battle over Measure 1 on the Aug. 24 primary ballot.

Backers with Clean Team Alaska say it would curb undue influence on governments by contractors and unions. Opponents say it would go too far and limit the ability of many Alaskans to have a voice in campaigns. They say even a village mayor would be barred from traveling to Juneau to lobby.

The state attorney general's office says the proposal would prevent public money from being spent for political campaigns and lobbying. It also would bar people with government contracts from making campaign contributions and extend that prohibition to relatives. Legislators and their aides would be barred from working for a government contract holder for two years.

Opponents in the Stop the Gag Law group say school districts, villages, cities and other governmental organizations wouldn't be allowed to send leaders to Juneau to make a pitch for funding.

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