The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) has issued Lieutenant Governor Meyer (R – Alaska) and several legislators fines for violating Alaska’s campaign disclosure laws. All of the fines are from last year’s primary election. They are all from failing to make 24-hour campaign disclosures. The 24-hour report is required to be filed in the nine days before an election for donations over $250. The report needs to be filed within 24 hours of the donation if it falls within the nine day period.
Meyer faces three different violations totaling $12,700. They can be seen here:
Meyer’s violations are noteworthy as one of his main role as lieutenant governor is overseeing elections.
Three members of the House Majority also received similar fines. They are Representatives Zack Fields (D – Anchorage), Matt Claman (D – Anchorage), and Gabrielle LeDoux (R – Anchorage).
Legislators enjoy legislative immunity while the legislature is in session. The lieutenant governor does not enjoy such immunity. All the letters to legislators include:
Staff recognizes that you are a sitting legislator and enjoy legislative immunity. No action is required of you while the legislature is in session. However, the matter should be addressed as soon as possible after the regular session, or any special session that may occur, concludes.
Representative Grier Hopkins (D – Fairbanks) also received a violation but after he provided APOC documentation that showed the contribution did not fall within the 24-hour reporting period, they withdrew the penalty. That can be seen here.
It’s possible the others that received the penalties will also provide documentation that show the contributions in question did not fall within the 24-hour reporting period. Often times, an individual will make a contribution on a given day, which will reflect on the check or credit card statement, but when it is later reported on a regularly scheduled report, the candidate or treasurer may use the date deposited rather than the date received. APOC requires the contribution be recorded on the date received. In Hopkins’ case, the contribution was received after the 24-hour reporting period.
The reason the fines are so high is because the fines accrue daily, starting with the date of the violation. APOC does not see the contributions until the next 30-day report (if the candidate goes on to the general election) or the year end report (if the candidate loses the primary). The year end report is not due until February after the election. So the fines can really rack up.
It is very likely everyone will appeal the violations to APOC. The appeals will be addressed at a meeting of the Commission. For the legislators, it will not be until the legislative session and any special sessions are concluded. The likely outcome will be that the Commission greatly reduces the fines based on what is included in the appeal. It is rare the maximum penalty is assessed.
Update: Since this story was published, Kevin Meyer has sent APOC documentation that showed the contributions were made outside the 24 hour reporting period and APOC has withdrawn the fines. Here is the link to the letter informing him the fines were withdrawn.