And the award goes to...
The first-ever APOC Awards newsletter is here! Who's got the sweetest tooth? The Costco-iest of wardrobes? The most concerning events?
Happy Friday, Alaska!
In this edition: After a long couple of weeks digging through APOC reports, I’ve stumbled across enough good stuff that I couldn’t resist putting together some awards for the fundraising superlatives (We’ll get into all the political junk next week). Also, the reading list and a much-belated news clipping a reader shared with me of the late, great Dennis Egan’s early foray into state service.
Current mood: 🏆
You get an award, and you get an award
Aside from all the different misspellings of Anchorage, the campaign finance data filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission contains plenty of weird and interesting tidbits that aren’t quite worthy of their own story. But you’ve never known your humble editor to shy away from handing out Major Awards, so here we are:
The “That’s not a party I’d want to go to” Award
Browsing through candidate reports, you can find plenty of entries that paint a picture of the light appetizers and libations provided at fundraisers and the pizzas being purchased for phone banks. Typically, they all sound like your run-of-the-mill work party, but awardee Stephen Wright truly stood out of the crowd with a $40.88 expense at Walmart for “Duct tape and water bottle & soda for event.” If you attended this event, please email me. At the very least, I just want to know if you’re okay.
Bonus: A grand total of $52.48 in expenses referred to “duct tape” in some form.
Kirkland Award for Best-Dressed Candidate
Way back in the days of covering Fairbanks-area legislative races, I remember stumbling across some big-time clothing purchases by a certain former Republican senator and Senate Finance co-chair (who once said to me, and I quote, “you suck”). While I was eager to spill the beans at that time, it was rightfully explained to me that there could be times where clothing is a proper campaign expense.
Anyway, this year there were a total of three expenses that referenced “clothes,” and all belong to Eagle River Republican Dan Saddler.
All come from Costco. Kirkland does make some fine jeans sure to meet a candidate’s parade-walking, door-knocking needs.
Most Aspirational Campaign Debt
There’s rarely anything of note listed under campaign debts, typically reserved for party database or coordinated campaign expenses, ad buys, and the likes. That’s all to say I can’t take credit for catching Forrest Jay McDonald’s $3,000 debt to be paid to Wasilla-based CORT Consulting for a “Win bonus (to be paid after we win in November) for consulting, graphic design, and strategy services.” I’m trying to think of a joke here, but I think this one speaks for itself.
Thanks to an eagle-eyed friend of the blog for spotting this one.
We Have The Meats® Award
There are plenty of deep-pocketed donors writing checks to Alaska candidates, but most have eyes for only one candidate. Not the case for former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor, former Commerce Commissioner, and Alaska Arby’s mogul Mike Navarre, who’s made contributions to 24 different campaigns.
He’s written checks for the campaigns of: Bill Walker, Bill Walker/Heidi Drygas, Les Gara, Les Gara/Jessica Cook, Justin Ruffridge, Grier Hopkins, Elvi Gray-Jackson, Matt Claman, Cathy Giessel, Cliff Groh, Louie Flora, Denmer "Denny" Wells, Alyse Galvin, Jennifer Sonne, Andy Josephson, Calvin Schrage, Janice Lynn Park, Liz Snyder, Andrea Andi Story, William Zachary "Zack" Fields, Ted J. Eischeid, Ashley Ellen Carrick, Caroline Storm and Jennie Armstrong.
Now that’s Arby’s money, baby.
The Unofficial American Dental Association-endorsed Candidate Award
Ahh, a summer parade. Perfect for enjoying the cacophony of a local marching band, the controlled chaos of thirty kids in karate outfits, and gawking at a local police department showing off the best military surplus vehicles your property tax dollars can buy. If you’re lucky, this year you also caught a handful of candy bought with $6,826.23 of campaign funds.
This year’s sweetest candidate is Jesse Kiehl, who spent $1,920.56 on candy for the famous July 4 parade in downtown Juneau. However, my on-the-ground source reported that it was the unions that really killed the candy game with “buckets of the good stuff.” As per usual, unions dominate another category of political spending.
In my opinion, candy is the only legitimate campaign expense. I’ll be gathering signatures for this petition next year unless the legislature beats me to it.
Runner up: Eagle River Republican Kelly Merrick with $1,187.25 spent on candy.
The “Charitable” Donation Award
And if a stale Tootsie Roll won’t win your vote, how about a handful of 9mm Parabellum?
Campaigns and groups spent a grand total of $3,745.78 was spent or donated on guns, attending gun shows and buying gun raffle tickets. This led me to find three guns purchased for raffles and a fourth—a rifle worth $2,000—that was donated to a Charlie Pierce/Edie Grunwald campaign outcry and silent auction.
(It should be noted, no candidate spent 100% of their funds on guns and gun accessories. Is anybody truly pro-Second Amendment?)
This further led me to look up the other contributions to said auction, which included a $2,000 scooter, Crown Royal and Dominican cigars donated by Pierce himself valued at $200, two hours of housecleaning valued at $110, homemade vanilla valued at $60 and a $20 bottle of “Hot as Hell Chili Sauce from South Africa”. Oh, and a $100 Trump poster donated, once again, by Charlie Pierce.
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The all-American teen-age request
This news clipping of the time that 14-year-old future Sen. Dennis Egan was sent to represent Alaska at a national conference in Hawai’i was sent to me by reader Karen Hofstad (sorry it’s taken me so long to remember to put it in!).
She writes: “Knowing Dennis, I never stop smiling and can just visualize this story.”
I’ve also uploaded a PDF of the clipping here.
Have an excellent weekend, y’all.
A classic --- thanks!