State Agency Staff Alleges Illegal Activity by Former Assemblyman Dan Coffey
Staffer files complaint based on failure to register as a lobbyist and prohibited campaign donations
ANCHORAGE - The staff of a state agency says former Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Coffey improperly failed to register as a lobbyist and therefore made more than two dozen illegal campaign contributions to legislative candidates.
It accuses him of three violations of the lobbyist disclosure law and one violation of campaign finance law. APOC can impose fines ranging from $10 to $500 a day on people who violate the campaign, lobbying and elected office statutes the agency is mandated with enforcing.
In November of 2011, the Anchorage Assembly passed a resolution authorizing a $60,000 contract with Coffey Consulting.
The resolution explicitly referred to Dan Coffey lobbying the Legislature and the governor on the port expansion project.
A month later, Coffey told the Anchorage Port Commission that he intended to register as a lobbyist, according to minutes of the meeting.
But APOC staff says in its complaint against Coffey that he never registered with the agency as a lobbyist.
And Coffey did make a couple of dozen contributions to legislative candidates outside his district, which lobbyists are prohibited from doing.
"Obviously, in Mr. Coffey’s case, it would be he made some prohibited contributions, if it turns out that he should have registered," said APOC Executive Director Paul Dauphinais, who emphasized that the commission could decide the complaint is not warranted.
But while a hearing is pending, staff continues to investigate, such as by trying to confirm that Coffey actually lobbied.
"We are doing that in the course of our investigation,” Dauphinais said. “Whether we have to, whether we're required to... I think it would be good practice on our part to at least try to do that."
Coffey has until December 28 to respond to the complaint.
"There could be a penalty, a fine assessed against Mr. Coffey,” Dauphinais said. “It would then deal with potentially other things regarding his employer. Because if he was required to register, his employer would have been required to register him. And then report their expenses in regard to Mr. Coffey and his activities."
So APOC staff suspects the municipality also broke state law.
Dauphinais said it is possible for a complaint to be filed against the municipality, with the possibility of a fine.
Coffey declined to be interviewed for this story, suggesting that as news, it doesn't amount to much.