Walker campaign says Republican-funded group didn’t disclose ad spending

The seal of the state of Alaska in the governor’s temporary offices in Juneau, June 19, 2016. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The campaign of Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott said a Republican-funded group failed to properly disclose that it bought political TV ads.

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The campaign filed a complaint Monday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. It said the group Families for Alaska’s Future – Dunleavy failed to report ads the Republican Governors Association bought in Alaska.

Walker-Mallott campaign manager John-Henry Heckendorn said the violations are serious.

“Unfortunately, it’s not that hard to set up a front group that is nothing but a name on a piece of paper, effectively, to conduct your expenditures on your behalf, and then hide all of your donors, so no one has any idea where the money’s really coming from,” Heckendorn said.

The complaint has two counts. The first count said the group failed to register with the commission before spending money, which violates state law. It said the group bought $735,000 in ads with KTUU two months before it registered. And it never reported the money with the commission.

Heckendorn said the spending is among the highest in Alaska history, and is by politically savvy people.

“They understand media and campaign disclosure requirements, and have just failed to comply with them,” Heckendorn said.

The second count said the group failed to file accurate spending reports. The Republican Governors Association initially reported that the RGA bought advertising with seven Alaska TV stations. Then it changed the name on the contracts to Families for Alaska’s Future. And that group never reported either the ads or that it benefited from the RGA’s ad buy.

Families for Alaska’s Future – Dunleavy couldn’t be reached for comment.

The commission could fine the group if it finds a violation.