Peltola speaks at AFN/APOC expedites latest complaint against Dunleavy/Debate takeaways
It's getting to be a busy time of year!
It’s Thursday, Alaska.
In this edition: Alaska’s U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola takes the stage to rockstar treatment at the Alaska Federation of Natives, getting some very meaningful support from the audience, Alaska Native leaders and even the family of the late Congressman Don Young. Campaign finance regulators have approved an expedited hearing on the allegations that something is still rotten with a pro-Dunleavy independent expenditure group. Also, a quick take on last night’s gubernatorial debate.
Current mood: 🥲
‘Now I’m a real congressman for all Alaska’
The Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention got underway today with the keynote address from Alaska U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, who was given the rockstar treatment by the audience. The exuberant Peltola said it was one of the greatest honors of her life to speak at the annual gathering and honored the late U.S. Rep. Don Young by inviting his family onto the stage. Young’s daughter, Joni, embraced Peltola and gave her one of the late congressman’s signature Alaska flag bolo ties, which drew gasps from the audience when Peltola explained what happened.
“Now I’m a real congressman for all Alaska,” Peltola said.
Peltola spoke at length about not buying into the fear and hate that has come to define modern politics and, instead, focus on what unites people to fight for a common good and the betterment of all people. Several Alaska Native leaders, including Bethel Sen. Lyman Hoffman, spoke proudly of Peltola and urged people to vote. As her time on the stage came to an end, the audience honored her with a song:
Later in the day, Young’s family was back on the stage to accept a lifetime achievement award given to non-Alaska Natives who’ve made a difference. There, Dawn Young said her father would have been proud of Peltola’s victory.
“My dad would be very, very happy with the results of the special election,” she said, “and I want to encourage you all to go out and vote. It’s super important to us.”
More: Read full coverage by Alaska Public Media
‘We’re looking for transparency here.’
The Alaska Public Offices Commission voted in a split decision today to take up the latest complaint against a pro-Dunleavy independent expenditure group and its funder, the Republican Governors Association, on an expedited basis. The decision was made on a 3-2 vote in a longer-than-expected executive session after attorney Scott Kendall made the case that documents filed by the groups—including banking documents that were voluntarily produced—show that the Republican Governors Association is campaigning directly in Alaska’s elections.
The expedited hearing is set for 9 a.m. Friday morning.
The complaint is based on the Republican Governors Association’s filings with the IRS that show the dark money group reporting expenses that the independent expenditure group “A Stronger Alaska” reported to APOC as having made itself. In defense of its actions, attorneys for A Stronger Alaska and the RGA produced documents that show the RGA transferred $3 million to an account labeled A Stronger Alaska.
Kendall argued what the documents really showed was a transfer from one RGA-controlled account to another RGA-controlled account, meaning that it’s been RGA directly campaigning on behalf of Dunleavy all along.
“This commission, from what I can see from the evidence, is going to be presented with the question of can a group just name a sub account in their own bank account something and that becomes a separate entity for important legal purposes such as disclaimers on ads, such as whether the dark money provisions apply, such as whether you’re going to be able to see the top-three donors on every communication,” He said. “Is putting money from your left RGA pocket into your right RGA pocket enough to create an entity?”
Richard Moses, the attorney for A Stronger Alaska, said the IRS filings that made it appear like the RGA was directly paying for campaign expenses in Alaska were simply because A Stronger Alaska and the RGA share the same tax identification number.
Neither Commissioners Dan LaSota and Lanette Blodgett, both Democrats, seemed to be particularly convinced that the two were completely distinct entities.
“Help me understand when two groups share the same EIN number why does that not imply there is really only one group?” LaSota said. “I don’t understand how two separate groups can share the same EIN number.”
“I’m not going to pretend to be a tax expert,” Moses replied before telling him that that should only matter for the IRS and that APOC commissioners shouldn’t be concerned with their tax status.
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