APOC denies expedited hearing after allegations of Bronson campaign finance violation

a ballot drop box sits on a table next to a podium. two people are in voting booths. two people are standing in the background
Voters cast their votes at the Loussac Library voting center just before 6 p.m. on April 5, 2021. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The runoff election for Anchorage mayor began to heat up this week after Forrest Dunbar’s campaign accused Dave Bronson’s campaign of more than $170,000 in finance violations.

On Wednesday, the Alaska Public Offices Commission denied the Dunbar campaign’s request for an expedited hearing, after hearing arguments from both sides during a preliminary hearing.

Dunbar treasurer Paula DeLaiarro told the commission that the Bronson campaign violations included accepting individual donations larger than state limits, accepting contributions from businesses, and not reporting money spent on ads and polling data from major national polling firms. 

DeLaiarro said campaigns plan their strategy, in part, based on what their opponent is doing. In addition to violating transparency laws, she said, the Bronson campaign’s allegedly inaccurate reporting makes campaign strategy more difficult, putting Dunbar’s campaign at a disadvantage. 

Stacey Stone, a lawyer for the Bronson campaign who said she was brought on board Wednesday morning, argued Dunbar’s complaints were based on conjecture and did not reference specific statute violations.

She admitted there were “small mistakes” in the Bronson campaign’s reporting that staff is working to correct through an audit.

After more than an hour of deliberation, APOC commissioners decided not to grant the expedited hearing requested by the Dunbar campaign, based on the understanding Bronson’s campaign will conduct an audit of their reporting.

The chair noted APOC staff will still investigate the allegations, and the Bronson campaign may still be on the hook for resulting penalties.

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