APOC will wait until to rule on first candidate-run election PAC
One lawmaker is taking campaign finance to a new level in Alaska. For the first time, a candidate has created a political action committee (PAC) in their own name and used it to donate to other candidates.
Anchorage Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R), created “Gabby’s Tuesday Pac” in late-July. Normally lobbyists can’t contribute to any candidates outside of the district in which they live, unless they do so through a PAC. In this case it’s a sitting legislator who determines where that money goes. In its first two weeks ten lobbyists indirectly contributed nearly $6,000 to the campaigns of ten Republican candidates.
The Alaska Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Alaska Political Offices Commission (APOC).
“There’s some big issues raised with the behavior and the actions that have been taken in starting up a whole new set of vehicles that allow candidates to, in essence, double-dip by taking money in their campaign account and also in this new structure,” said Kay Brown, the party’s executive director.
APOC considered the party’s complaint and request to have it expedited on Thursday morning, but decided not to rule on it until after Sept. 15, when LeDoux’s lawyers requested more time. The commission made the decision under the agreement that, in the meantime, LeDoux will not accept further contributions to, or make contributions from her PAC.
“All I really have to say is that we believe that our client is compliant with the law and has done nothing wrong,” said Stacey Stone, LeDoux’s lawyer. “APOC will eventually agree with us and we’re willing to cooperate with the hearing, but we just want to be prepared adequately for a hearing on the merits so we are pleased with the decision to allow additional time for us to proceed forward and prepare adequately.”
Brown said she is pleased APOC will still be taking up the issue this month.
“They’re moving ahead faster than they normally do,” Brown said.
After the creation of Gabby’s Tuesday PAC, a similar group cropped up in mid-August — lead by Republican candidate David Eastman, known as the Alaska Conservative Leadership PAC.
A group registration amended on Sept. 1, stated: “No Campaign in 2016: Collect and expend funds to pay debts or administrative expenses for a 2017 campaign,” as the group’s campaign plans.
Eastman said that’s because the PAC hasn’t yet decided on any particular races.
“Depending on what donors want to do and the support that we have, we might get involved before that,” Eastman said in a phone interview Thursday, adding that a 2017 campaign could be a municipal election or special election.
“I think it would behoove folks to take note of this proceeding and realize that this may not be legal,” Brown said of the new PAC.
But Eastman says the complaint hasn’t discouraged the activity of his group.
“I think that there are folks new to the idea and they’re working through it on the complaint side,” he said. “We’re ready for that.”
Stone says LeDoux did everything by the books.
“Our client, as many of our clients do, contemplated this idea with APOC prior to actually initiating everything and accepting contributions. She worked with the staff to ensure that she was in compliance with the law,” Stone said.
While these types of PACs are new to Alaska, they are not new to Congress.
All three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation — Senators Lisa Murkowski (R) and Dan Sullivan (R), as well Congressman Don Young (R) — have “leadership PACs,” according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics’ website, opensecrets.org.
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