APOC complaint accuses Coffey of failing to register as a lobbyist

ldemer@adn.comDecember 18, 2012 

Dan Coffey, a prominent attorney and former Anchorage Assembly member, is being accused by Alaska Public Offices Commission staff of violating state lobbying and campaign finance laws while working as a lobbyist for the municipality.

Coffey was hired last fall under a no-bid, $60,000 contract with the Sullivan administration to work on special projects, including lobbying the Legislature and Gov. Sean Parnell for support of the Port of Anchorage expansion project, according to documents filed by APOC. The contract work period ran from Nov. 15, 2011, through May 15 of this year.

Coffey was at the Anchorage Assembly meeting Tuesday night, where he was trying to negotiate the sale of a liquor license belonging to a troubled bar. He declined to comment on the APOC complaint

Coffey never registered as a lobbyist for either 2011 or 2012, and should have, APOC staff member Joan Mize said in a complaint filed Dec. 13.

In addition, he made campaign contributions to multiple legislative candidates, the complaint said. Under state law, lobbyists can only contribute money to candidates in the district where they live.

"If it is determined that Mr. Coffey should have registered as a lobbyist for the Municipality of Anchorage, these campaign contributions violated Alaska's campaign finance laws," the complaint said.

The candidates who live outside his home legislative district would have to refund the contributions, the complaint said.

APOC did not name the candidates, but its online database of campaign contributors shows that Coffey, who lives in Midtown, gave to a number of candidates during the time he was under contract to the city, including candidates in Fairbanks, Bethel, Eagle River and around Anchorage.

Coffey portrayed himself as a lobbyist for the municipality, and that's what he was hired to do, APOC said.

"Whereas, the professional services to be provided by Coffey Consulting will include lobbying the Alaska Legislature and the Governor for financial support for the port project," the Assembly said in a Nov. 8, 2011, resolution approving the hiring.

At a Dec. 14, 2011, meeting of the city Port Commission, Coffey outlined his plans for the 2012 legislative session. He said his job was to secure $350 million through a state bond for the port project, according to minutes of the meeting filed with the APOC complaint. He said he knew a lot of legislators and had met with a number since Nov. 15. He would register as a lobbyist, he said, according to the minutes.

Ultimately, the Anchorage port project received $48.5 million in a direct legislative appropriation, and another $50 million that was embedded in a statewide bond referendum approved by voters last month.

 

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

 

 

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