A complaint against Alaska Yes Inc was filed Monday by the Alaska Public Offices Commission staff, and alleges the nonprofit violated several campaign laws.
In a Sept. 23 memo from Campaign Disclosure Coordinator Thomas Lucas to Alaska Public Offices Commissioners, he wrote that Alaska Yes Inc had violated several campaign laws, including failing to register as a group in a timely matter, failing to file campaign disclosure reports, failing to report non-monetary contributions to the John Quick campaign, using Alaska Yes expenditures to support Quick and failing to identify the true source of funds used in expenditures. Quick is running for the Nikiski seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
Alaska Yes also has run ads supporting Homer City Council candidates Shelly Erickson and Tom Stroozas.
In their memo, Alaska Public Offices Commission defines Alaska Yes inc as a “group,” which is defined as “any combination of two or more individuals acting jointly who organize for the principal purpose of influencing the outcome of one or more elections and who take action the major purpose of which is to influence the outcome of an election.” Alaska Yes Inc began making expenditures prior to an Aug. 31 fundraiser, but did not register as a group with Alaska Public Offices Commission until Sept. 5, and only did so as an entity, not as a group, which violates campaign law AS 15.13.050, according to the memo.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission’s complaint also alleges Alaska Yes Inc violated law AS 15.13.110(a), which requires groups to file campaign disclosure reports.
“Because it chose to influence the results of a 2019 state-wide municipal election, Alaska Yes was required to file a 30 day campaign disclosure report no later than September 3, 2019,” the memo said. “Alaska Yes failed to do so and, thereby, violated AS 15.13.110(a).”
Alaska Yes Inc advertisements contained a disclosure that said “not authorized, paid for or approved by any candidate.” The complaint says this disclaimer is not true and violated law AS 15.13.135. Alaska Yes Inc’s then-treasurer, Kathy Toms, testified during last Thursday’s hearing that Quick’s campaign manager, Paul Huber, participated in Alaska Yes campaigns in support of Quick.
“Likewise, because of Mr. Huber’s participation, Alaska Yes’ expenditures supporting Mr. Quick and opposing his opponents are not independent expenditures, but rather, are non-monetary contributions to the Quick campaign,” the memo said.
The complaint alleges that Alaska Yes Inc expenditures supporting Quick violate law AS 15.13.074(f).
“Alaska Yes funded its support of Mr. Quick with contributions from persons prohibited from contributing to a candidate,” the memo said.
The final allegation on the complaint says Alaska Yes Inc did not identify the true sources of the funds it’s used for expenditures in support of Quick’s campaign.
“Alaska Yes has filed an independent expenditure report showing that its sole contributor is Celebrate Alaska,” the memo said. “But, Celebrate Alaska is simply a reserved name owned by Alaska Yes. The true source of the funds would be the contributors who contributed to the Celebrate Alaska fundraiser(s). Failure to identify the true source of funds is a violation of AS 15.13.074(a) and 2 AAC 50.258(a).”
In an independent expenditure form filed on Saturday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, a number of expenditures on signs, print and radio advertisements and auto expenses, were listed totalling $4,979.83. The filing also includes a contributor, Celebrate Alaska. The contribution was made on Aug. 31, for $20,930.17.
In that filing, Alaska Yes also paid for ads to Sound Publishing, the owner of the Homer News and the Peninsula Clarion, for ads against borough Prop 1 and in support of Homer City Council candidates Tom Stroozas and Shelly Erickson and assembly candidates Rose Henry and Holly Odd.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission issued an order last Friday morning directing Quick and his campaign to “immediately cease and desist from coordinating with Alaska Yes on advertisements that state they are ‘not authorized, paid for or approved by any candidate.’”
Two expedited Alaska Public Offices Commission hearings were held last week regarding a Sept. 18 complaint filed by Kenai resident Todd Smith, alleging Quick’s campaign was coordinating with the group, Alaska Yes Inc. Quick was listed as the executive director of Alaska Yes Inc, but testified to commissioners last Wednesday that he resigned March 25. Quick, Peter Zuyus of Homer and Kenai attorney Blaine Gilman incorporated Alaska Yes Inc on March 5. Toms, who resigned last week, testified that she mistakenly added Quick as the executive director because she was using the original incorporation documents.
During last week’s hearings, Quick testified that he resigned from Alaska Yes Inc on March 25, and has had no involvement since. Toms testified that Alaska Yes Inc advertisements were reviewed and approved through emails, and that Quick’s campaign manager Paul Huber and Alaska Yes Inc board members Nona Safra, who is chair of the District 31 Republican Party, and Wayne Ogle, a current Kenai peninsula Borough Assembly member, were corresponding in those emails.
By Tuesday night, Quick, Zuyus and Safra had not returned phone calls from the Clarion.
Last Thursday, Quick announced Huber’s resignation from his campaign. His attorney, Stacey Stone, told the Clarion last Thursday that Quick had no knowledge of Huber’s involvement with Alaska Yes Inc.
Ogle, who was formerly listed as a board member and vice president of Alaska Yes Inc, said he was not involved in day to day operations, including ad campaigns and campaign filings.
In a Tuesday phone call with the Clarion, Ogle said he resigned from Alaska Yes Inc last Thursday. He said he was not happy with how Quick’s resignation with the organization caused confusion and wasn’t interested in the direction Alaska Yes was going.