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Anchorage

State denies quick review in complaint against Bronson campaign alleging campaign finance violations

Mayoral candidate Dave Bronson talks with Deputy Municipal Clerk Erika McConnell on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at the Municipality of Anchorage election center. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

The Alaska Public Offices Commission will not expedite its consideration of a complaint lodged against Anchorage mayoral candidate Dave Bronson claiming he violated campaign finance rules.

Forrest Dunbar, Bronson’s opponent in the race for Anchorage mayor, filed the complaint Monday with the state and requested an expedited review.

During an initial hearing held Wednesday, the commission considered “whether or not the alleged violation or alleged violations — if not immediately restrained — could materially affect the outcome of an election,” APOC Chair Anne Helzer said.

Dunbar’s campaign did not meet the burden of proof showing that the alleged violations could impact the election, the commission said in its ruling.

Still, the commission noted that there is “ ‘reasonable cause’ to believe that a violation or violations occurred.”

Dunbar’s campaign claimed that multiple alleged infractions amount to tens of thousands of dollars in misreported campaign finances and illegally accepted contributions by Bronson’s campaign.

The commission denied expediting the complaint “in reliance on counsel for the Bronson campaign, and her representations and statements that an audit is underway, and that any violations of campaign finance law will be corrected expeditiously,” Helzer said.

During the hearing, Bronson’s lawyer, Stacey Stone, said that his campaign is working to remedy some errors in its report.

“The Dunbar campaign sets forth a host of allegations without specific reference to the specific statute or regulations it alleges was violated,” Stone told the commission on Wednesday.

The complaint also relies on inferences and conjecture, which are not evidence, and many of the allegations “must be dismissed summarily,” she said.

On Thursday, some updates had been made to Bronson’s campaign finance reports, including the addition of a previously unspecified payment for polling data.

“Dave Bronson and his campaign have an obligation to tell Municipal voters the truth,” Dunbar said in an emailed statement. “I’m glad our complaint pushed Mr. Bronson to finally comply with the law. However, tens of thousands of dollars in non-complaint activity remain unexplained.”

Bronson has said that Dunbar is using the complaint as a way to distract his team.

The allegations in the complaint will be investigated and reviewed at a regularly scheduled hearing, Helzer said.

Bronson and Dunbar are advancing to a runoff election in the race for Anchorage mayor on May 11.

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