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Bronson for Mayor faces tens of thousands in potential fines for campaign finance violations

Then-candidate Dave Bronson at his campaign headquarters, ahead of Anchorage's 2021 mayoral...
Then-candidate Dave Bronson at his campaign headquarters, ahead of Anchorage's 2021 mayoral election.(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:22 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Recently elected Mayor of Anchorage Dave Bronson’s campaign could face more than $52,000 in fines for failing to accurately disclose campaign finances in a timely manner, and for receiving over-the-limit contributions during the lead-up to Anchorage’s 2021 municipal election.

Bronson’s opponent in the mayoral runoff, Anchorage Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, filed an initial complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission in April. The commission and the Bronson campaign agreed to multiple extensions in filing deadlines.

One portion of a staff report from APOC reads: “After wading through (Bronson for Mayor’s) utterly confusing reports for many days, it is clear to staff that the public had no idea of what was going on in the BFM campaign until well after the April 6, 2021 election and the May 11, 2021 runoff election.”

A first draft of the report, providing a stated cause for fining Bronson’s campaign $80,650, cited various amendments to year-start, seven-day and 30-day reports that were non-compliant well past the established deadlines. In that report, APOC alleges that Bronson for Mayor’s seven-day runoff report was also reportedly not amended into compliance until 49 days after the deadline.

On Friday afternoon, the Bronson campaign’s attorney, Stacey Stone, told Alaska’s News Source that she expected the fine amount to be reduced by tens of thousands of dollars, due to errors within APOC’s initial report.

Tom Lucas, the campaign disclosure coordinator with APOC, verified that nature of the error — a mix-up in the deadlines and dates used to calculate the initial fines. The amended report was published Friday afternoon and proposes a fine of $52,650.

“During the course of the campaign, the campaign became aware of certain errors with regard to reports submitted to the APOC,” Stone wrote in a follow up email. “The Bronson for Mayor campaign has publicly acknowledged those issues and worked to rectify the same in real time. Many prior candidates with nearly identical issues have received significantly lower fines in the past. For the APOC staff to recommend such a disproportionate fine in this instance is outlandish.”

Both reports also contain accusations from the Forrest Dunbar Campaign, that Bronson’s team received five separate contributions that fell over the $500 yearly limit but failed to return to multiple “over-the-limit” donations within the allowable 10-day grace period.

The APOC staff report is recommending against mitigating, or lessening, the potential fines, citing the fact that the Bronson campaign had more than one late filing in the last five years.

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