APOC: Peterson backer violated campaign law

Posted: Sunday, October 05, 2003

A supporter of Juneau Assembly candidate Daniel Peterson violated state campaign law, said Brooke Miles, executive director of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, on Friday.

Peterson supporter Tom Dahl placed an ad in the Sept. 28 Juneau Empire that said Senior Citizens Support Services Inc. paid for the ad, but he funded it himself, Miles said. A corporation cannot give ads or money to a candidate, she said.

Dahl is president of the board of Senior Citizens Support Services.

"Jane Doe sees that ad and it looks like the Senior Citizens Support Services Inc. is supporting that candidate," Miles said. "And they very well may be, but they can't advertise it that way. It's Mr. Dahl who is supporting this candidate."

APOC instructed Dahl to place a corrected ad in the newspaper before the Oct. 7 election. APOC also required Dahl to write a letter to the commission explaining the error, and inform Peterson of the cost of the ad so the candidate can include it on his year-end financial disclosure form, Miles said.

Dahl placed a new ad in the newspaper on Friday.

Incumbent Dale Anderson, Peterson's opponent for an Assembly District 2 seat, said in an interview that the ad was "misleading," and that Senior Citizens Support Services did not endorse Peterson.

Dahl said he figured seniors would likely support Peterson over Anderson. Dahl said Anderson blocked three attempts by seniors living at Fireweed Place to get property-tax breaks. The financial shortfall, he said, forced Fireweed Place to be sold to Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority. Fireweed Place is a downtown apartment building for seniors.

"It is our hope that (Anderson) is never elected to public office again," Dahl said. "He has demonstrated a hostility to seniors."

Anderson told the Empire he did not know how APOC learned of the ad. But Miles said Anderson faxed a copy of it to the agency at 12:34 p.m. Sept. 29, the day after the ad was printed.

Anderson said he didn't plan to file a formal complaint about the ad.

"It's not my style. I think everyone should play by the rules," he said.

Anderson also told the city clerk's office about a Peterson campaign reception that Anderson believed had the appearance of impropriety. The Peterson campaign planned to hold a reception for seniors at Fireweed Place the night before absentee voting was to occur there on Sept. 29.

The Empire ad at issue publicized the reception. The problem with the reception, Anderson said, was that voting was scheduled to occur the following morning at Fireweed Place without giving him an ability to first speak to seniors. The proximity of the two events could imply an endorsement of Peterson by the senior organization, Anderson said.

Sica changed the absentee voting to two days later, on Oct. 2. Sica said Friday that she was unaware that the reception and voting were scheduled so close in time to each other, and she changed the voting day to avoid any appearance of an endorsement for Peterson.

"An election is a very emotional thing," Anderson said. "I think (Sica) did the right thing in postponing that voting."

Dahl, president of the board at Senior Services, said the closeness of the reception and voting was a "coincidence."

"The (Senior Citizens Support Services Inc.) board asked to use the building and they set up a time," Dahl said. "I understand the appearance of the conflict and had no problem with the change."

Peterson also failed to follow proper campaign disclosure laws, Miles of APOC said. Peterson loaned himself $6,000 within 33 days of the election, but the allowable limit is $5,000.

Peterson said he corrected the error by filing a candidate reimbursement notification form Oct. 1 with APOC. But he still failed to show it on his most recent financial-disclosure form. He immediately corrected the error once APOC notified him, he said.

Miles said Peterson, 21, likely will not be penalized because he corrected the error immediately, and is young and new to election laws.

Most recently, Peterson sent out campaign fliers and failed to include the words, "paid for by" in front of his name. Miles said. The fliers clearly were paid for by Peterson because they listed his name and address, but that must be spelled out to the voters, she said. She planned to contact Peterson and tell him not to make the mistake again.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.

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