Research group alleges Governor use of mansion violates ethics act

Published: May. 21, 2020 at 7:13 PM AKDT
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The Alaska Public Interest Research Group has filed a complaint saying Gov. Mike Dunleavy has violated ethics laws by using the governor's mansion for partisan political purposes. The complaint references an auction item at the Alaska Republican Party's Unity Gala in December that would grant four people a breakfast with the governor in the state mansion.

AkPIRG Executive Director, Veri di Suvero, is requesting an ethics investigation into the use of the governor's mansion by the governor in relation to the Alaska Republican Party event.

"We need to know that our public officials are acting in good faith," di Suvero said. "We need to know the details of what happened at the Unity Gala. We need to know that our system is capable of dealing with incidents where government officials are flouting ethics acts and to know that there is going to be a way to reestablish trust with the public going forward so the governor is, in fact, being a good steward of our public resources and not auctioning them off to the highest bidder."

Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr at the Department of Law said all complaints filed under the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act are confidential until a formal proceeding is initiated. She says even disclosing an ethics complaint has been filed to media is a violation of Alaska law.

If an ethics complaint is filed against an executive like the governor, it would then be forwarded to the Personnel Board for further action, Bahr wrote in an email.

Channel 2 reached out to the Governor's Office on Tuesday for comment on the ethics complaint and was referred to the Department of Law. On Thursday, Dunleavy's spokesperson Jeff Turner said he couldn't talk about the complaint since it was a legal issue.

AkPIRG is a nonprofit organization that says part of its mission is to promote transparency and accountability in government.

"We’re hoping that it gets the investigation it deserves and that the governor doesn’t remain in his office unchecked," di Suvero said.

Channel 2 has reached out to the Alaska Republican Party multiple times for comment on this story and has not received a response.

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