FAIRBANKS — The mayor of North Pole could be fined for allegedly using taxpayer money to influence the outcome of a vote during the summer.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission’s staff has issued a report stating North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson violated state statute by using city funds to mail a newsletter that discussed his recall, an item that appeared on the ballot in October. The staff recommended the mayor be fined $1,800.
The commission will vote on the matter at a hearing Friday.
The complaint was filed by the same group that initiated the recall last year.
The group alleged Isaacson misused personal leave, abused per diem and city credit card privileges, and failed to collect sales taxes from a defunct restaurant, among other charges. North Pole voters rejected the recall in October.
“It’s not even about the punishment. It was about misusing tax dollars. You cannot use taxpayer funds to fund your lifestyle,” said Tammy Randolph, a leader of the recall group.
Isaacson mentioned the recall in an article he wrote for the August newsletter, a monthly publication created by a former mayor. While Isaacson said he included it only to inform residents about the issue, the APOC report stated he was trying to influence the outcome of the ballot question.
Isaacson said he was strictly discussing procedure and only devoted a half-page of the six-page letter to the issue.
“It was very clear I was not trying to get people to vote one way or the other,” Isaacson said. “By bringing it up, I actually ran the risk of having more people vote against me.”
The APOC report said Isaacson should pay an $1,800 fine to cover the cost of the newsletter and postage. The staff also suggested he write and distribute an apology letter to the community, a $600 expense, which would be deducted from the fine.
Randolph said the group is not planning to file any other complaints but is watching the mayor closely.
“As a result of all this, he has reined some of it in,” she said.
Isaacson said he does not regret his actions because he wasn’t trying to break the law.
“This is just part of being an elected official. It’s not for the faint of heart, I’m learning.”