The Alaska Public Offices Commission on Wednesday rejected Anchorage marijuana activist Charlo Greene's objection to a subpoena, giving the agency the authority to continue its investigation into whether she violated campaign finance law.
Greene challenged the commission's request that she provide it with documents and information related to an IndieGogo fundraising campaign she conducted this fall. APOC requested the information to see whether or not Greene accepted contributions or made expenditures or communications related to Ballot Measure 2, an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana in Alaska. Greene contends the agency has no authority over her records and said Wednesday she would not be complying with the subpoena.
"This (order) worries me and should worry any other Alaskan that's taken on a stance on any matter that's important to them," Greene said. "If you publish your personal stance on any issue, then this government agency believes they have the authority to ask for emails, bank account information, all of your records. That's scary."
In the three-page order, the commission argues that Alaska law allows the agency to conduct investigations in order to determine whether campaign finance law has been violated. The commission notes multiple times in the order that it has not found Greene to be in violation of the law.
"This does not mean that there has been any violation of the law," the commission wrote. "But without a reasonable investigation, no determination can be reached."
Alaska law requires all entities advocating for candidates or campaigns to register with the commission. All donations and expenditures related to campaign activities must be documented with the commission. Those who fail to comply with the law can be subject to civil penalties.
Greene, whose legal name is Charlene Egbe, quit her job as a reporter at KTVA in September, announcing she would dedicate herself to her marijuana business full-time. Shortly after quitting, Greene launched an IndieGogo online fundraising campaign to continue her "freedom and fairness" fight for marijuana legalization. The online fundraising campaign netted Greene just over $8,400.
Greene contended in a series of emails with APOC group campaign disclosure coordinator Tom Lucas in October that her fundraising was not for passing Ballot Measure 2 but for continuing her marijuana advocacy worldwide.
While Greene registered her group with the commission on Oct. 2, filing a handful of independent expenditures, she then stopped and began challenging the agency's jurisdiction over her fundraising efforts.
Greene contended that she filed with the organization to comply with finance disclosure laws for the small amount of advocating she did do for the marijuana effort. But, she says, the IndieGogo campaign should not be subject to APOC reporting requirements because it was fundraising for her organization, the Alaska Cannabis Club, and not Ballot Measure 2. The agency disagreed, citing numerous examples where they believe her campaign was advocating for the initiative.
In the Wednesday order, the commission notes that Greene is directed to comply with the subpoena at a date and time set by APOC Executive Director Paul Dauphinais. As of Wednesday, that date had not been set. Should Greene not comply, Dauphinais has the authority to seek judicial enforcement of the subpoena.