Both sides of mining measure face penalties

Settlement reached with mine opponents

Posted: Friday, October 02, 2009

ANCHORAGE - State election regulators are concluding their cases against both sides of a mining ballot initiative rejected by Alaska voters last year.

Ballot Measure 4 - calling for new limits on water pollution from large mines - was an attempt to block development of Pebble Mine, a copper and gold prospect in southwest Alaska.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission has been investigating allegations of campaign violations by both sides.

The commission last week reached a $20,000 settlement over charges against a pro-initiative group, the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Job Security, which provided much of the funding used to push the measure.

The APOC said the true source of the money was hidden: Pebble opponent Bob Gillam, an Anchorage businessman with a home near the Pebble deposit.

The group does not admit any guilt in the settlement. The commission did not forward criminal allegations to the state attorney general.

The Anchorage Daily News reported the commission also is in final settlement negotiations with Gillam and other initiative backers, according to attorneys involved. Among other charges, proponents are accused of conspiring to hide most of Gillam's donations.

Art Hackney, one of the sponsors of the measure, said that in settlement documents being signed, the backers have agreed to pay a collective $35,000.

Commission staff also has proposed fines against Alaska mining firms and others that lobbied against the initiative.

The APOC staff recommends a $21,000 fine against the Council of Alaska Producers, a coalition of mining companies. The staff also recommends a $61,200 fine against Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown.

The pro-mining groups are accused of fully disclosing their spending only well after the election.

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