Commission to hear complaints against Treadwell campaign

Becky BohrerAssociated Press

JUNEAU - Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell's campaign committee could be fined more than $9,600 over its financial disclosures, including the alleged receipt of advertising discounts.

The staff of the Alaska Public Offices Commission planned to recommend a $9,681 civil penalty, executive director Paul Dauphinais said Tuesday. The commission, which was set to hear the case next week, can reject the recommendation.

Treadwell and his attorney denied any discounts.

According to a memo to commissioners, dated June 15, the staff concluded that Treadwell's campaign didn't timely and accurately report spending to a law firm; failed to properly amend reports for spending at a restaurant, and didn't accurately report expenditures to the ad firm it says provided discounted services.

State law bars corporations, businesses or unions from making direct contributions to candidates. Treadwell won the office last fall.

Banned contributions, according to the memo, include providing services for free or at a lesser rate, unless the discounted rate is extended to all campaigns.

Treadwell said he believes in, supports and abides by state campaign disclosure laws. He said his campaign paid "fair market value, in accordance with the counsel of its attorneys and accountants, and the facts show it received no corporate discounts or other such contributions."

Treadwell attorney Erin Marston said from the beginning, the campaign provided "comprehensive reports" and amendments, when required. He said the hearing will cover "what appears to be a good faith difference in interpretation of the law." He said campaign lawyers, based on additional evidence and prior commission opinions, have asked staff to reconsider their position.

"We have respectfully suggested that those initial views may have been erroneous, based on incomplete information and on distinctions that are arguably hyper-technical in nature," he said in a statement. He added Treadwell's camp remains confident that "this is a misunderstanding that can be appropriately addressed," and looked forward to working with commission staff.

Gov. Sean Parnell's office declined to comment.

The law also called for the campaign to repay the discounted amount, which according to commission documents is about $27,500, Dauphinais said.

Other cases scheduled to go before the commission next week include a proposed settlement with Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines, who had faced a complaint over thank-you ads, paid by local businesses, in support of Thomas.

Dauphinais said a Thomas campaign staffer misunderstood a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate contributions. He said there was coordination of the ads in violation of state law. A proposed consent agreement also cited campaign overfunding and reporting errors.

Thomas' wife was also his treasurer. The agreement would impose a $4,060 penalty against Thomas and require mandatory training for the couple. It is pending approval from the commission.

The Associated Press