Rep. Lance Pruitt violated campaign finance laws, watchdog finds

A white man holds some paper
Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, talks to reporters at a House Republican Minority press availability in his Capitol office in Juneau in 2018. On Tuesday, an Alaska Public Offices Commission staff report found Pruitt’s 2016 and 2018 campaigns violated state campaign finance laws. (Skip Gray/360 North)

Rep. Lance Pruitt violated Alaska’s campaign finance laws and should pay a penalty. That’s according to staff for the state’s elections watchdog agency, the Alaska Public Offices Commission.  

Commission staff issued a report on Tuesday. They found Pruitt’s campaigns failed to accurately report expenses, both in 2016 and 2018.

The five-member commission will decide whether it agrees with those findings and what, if any, penalty Pruitt will have to pay. 

According to the report:

  • Both 2018 and 2016 campaigns failed to report media advertising placement and consulting services it received;
  • Pruitt’s 2016 campaign failed to either reimburse him for personal funds within the legally allotted time, or to then report the use of his personal funds as contributions; and
  • Pruitt’s 2018 campaign accepted two contributions from a corporation, illegal under state law.

The maximum fine for the violations is $1,022,250. The commission staff said that amount would be excessive and recommended it be reduced by 99%. Pruitt would still have to pay $10,222. 

The report also recommended that the commission dismiss an allegation that Pruitt failed to obtain required information about the clients of his wife, Mary Ann Pruitt. She is a media consultant who has worked as Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s communication director. The staff said Lance Pruitt made a good-faith effort to get that information. 

The investigation was the result of a complaint filed in October by Paula DeLaiarro, a campaign finance expert for Ship Creek Group, a consulting business.

Pruitt is an Anchorage Republican. He recently lost his legislative seat to Democrat Liz Snyder. A lawsuit is challenging the election result.