Following the Money in House campaign

In the Republican Party race for House District 31 Representative, contributions have ranged from just $400 for John Cox to $24,047 for the incumbent, Rep. Paul Seaton, according to Alaska Public Offices Commission filings as of July 15.

Homer Mayor Beth Wythe has raised a little less than Seaton, about $21,000, but an independent group, Wythe is Right! Seaton Must Be Beaten, has a kitty of $15,804 to spend to advocate for the election of Wythe and the defeat of Seaton. As a political action committee, though, Wythe is Right! Seaton Must Be Beaten, cannot coordinate efforts with Wythe.

Seaton has raised $24,047 in his entire campaign and spent $7,813.33. In this year he has raised $6,243. Most of his contributions have come from individuals in donations from $25 to $500, including some from outside the district, such as $500 from Anchorage lawyer Robin Brena. Contributions from political action committees are $1,000 from the National Education Association – Alaska PACE and $500 from Dentists of Alaska PAC. His expenses have been for things like gas, Kenai Peninsula State Fair booth space, advertising (including $288.13 to the Homer News), signs and brochures.

In her campaign for reports up to July 15, Wythe has raised $21,354.70 and spent $14,827.50. Individual contributions range from $10 to $500, including a batch of four $500 donations from Adam Crum, Lara Crum, Richard Crum and Joseph Crum III, all from Wasilla.

Adam Crum is running for state Senate to represent Wasilla. Wythe has donated $12,600 in direct contributions to her own campaign, not counting non-fund contributions for expenses.

Expenses have been for things like print, web and radio advertising (including $145.77 to the Homer News), website hosting, office furniture and rental, bulk mailings, printing, video editing and yard signs.

John Cox’s campaign has received two contributions from Anchor Point and Homer business owners totaling $400 between June and July 2016, $300 from Dibble Creek Rock and $100 from Fire Side Fly Fishing. He’s spent $2,800, mostly in campaign signs and campaign research.

Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten has received all of its contributions so far from The Accountability Project, another PAC, which has donated $15,804. The Accountability Project received donations of $10,000 from Jim Jansen, business manager of Lynden Inc., and $10,000 from Lynden Inc., an Anchorage trucking company. Advance Supply Chain of Anchorage donated $2,160 to the Accountability Project and Prosperity Alaska donated $528. Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten has spent $22,115.98 as of July 15, including expenditures to AEGIS Strategic in Arlington, Va., for election research and radio coordination with CAP Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. Other expenses have been for media buys, online advertising and bulk mailings.

Dan Gardner is the chair of Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten. Gardner is the superintendent of Homer Public Works and a coworker of Wythe’s husband, John. Under city of Homer personnel regulations, a city worker is not prohibited from working on state political campaigns.

Longtime Republican Party stalwart and former district chair Eileen Becker is deputy treasurer. Scott Hawkins, chairman of Prosperity Alaska, is treasurer and listed as the main contact for Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten.

Hawkins said Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten was formed by “folks that found they have a mutual interest.”

“A lot of members of the Republican community would like to have some actual Republican representation in Juneau as opposed to a Republican who tends to vote Democrat,” Hawkins said. “We’re a pro-business group and we have some concerns about Paul Seaton and his track record on economic development. It’s not what you expect from a Republican.”

Hawkins cited Seaton’s work on reducing oil and gas tax credit obligations by the state, including phasing out tax incentives to exploration and development in Cook Inlet.

“Rep. Seaton in the House Resources Committee has been way too quick to pull the rug out from under us,” Hawkins said. “The policies we’ve been putting in place have been working beautifully.”

“They’re pursuing an agenda without the facts on economic development,” Seaton said in response.

Seaton said the state has paid out as much as $404 million in incentives for about 1,000 Cook Inlet oil and gas jobs, or about $404,000 per job — two to three times what an actual worker earns, he said.

“That is nothing that I would call a fiscally conservative thing to be doing,” Seaton said. “I think The Accountability Project is basically fiscal unaccountability.”

Noting the deficit in spending with Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten, Hawkins said the group hopes to raise more money to cover that debt. Members of the group on the local Kenai Peninsula are helping to raise money for Wythe is Right! Seaton Must be Beaten, he said.

“It would be safe to say the majority of the funds would come from The Accountability Project, but raised in the community,” Hawkins said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com. Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com.

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