The Alaska Public Office’s Commission held a hearing involving Charlene Egbe, better known as Charlo Greene. The case has less to do with Egbe’s very public support of legalizing access to marijuana than it does with campaign finance rules, and the specifics of how the state enforces transparency in elections.
The commission heard testimony that will help them decide to pursue a subpoena for information on whether Egbe violated state rules by using money collected by her business, Alaska Cannabis Club, to support Proposition 2 in this year’s election. Paul Dauphinais, APOC’s executive director, said the case may hinge on whether Egbe acted as an individual, or on behalf of a business group.
“There’s differences in the definition, there’s nuances of when one thing happens and one thing doesn’t,” Dauphinais explained after the hearing. “For us, ‘group’ is kind of an all-encompassing term. An individual, under the definition, is a ‘natural human being’–a person can be a corporate entity.”
Those definitions are drawn from the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.
Egbe was present but did not speak during the hearing. However, she was represented in testimony by Don Hart, who described himself as a friend of Egbe’s, and told commissioners she never spent any of the Cannabis Club’s money on Prop 2. Rather she pursued broader campaigns for legal access to marijuana and voter enrollment.
“Everything she did in support of Prop 2 herself was individual support,” Hart explained. “But her whole purpose of providing any kind of support at all was providing support for people to get them to register to vote.”
The total amount of money in question is $11,000. Hart and another person testifying on Egbe’s behalf, Ronda Marcy, say she is being disproportionately scrutinized. But Dauphinais with APOC says deciding whether or not to enforce the subpoena has more to do with transparency for the public in election spending.
The commission will release its decision on whether or not to proceed within the next ten days.