Given the repeated false statements by Donald Trump questioning the integrity of the elections process in our country, the Alaskans leading the Trump campaign and the Alaska Republican Party should admit that they failed to place an ad for Trump in the election pamphlet mailed to Alaskans.

Instead, they are insinuating that the system is rigged against them, that the Division of Elections is incompetent or that the absence of the Trump ad shows a tilt toward Democrat Hillary Clinton.

These excuses, propagated through the GOP Facebook page, are to cover up a mistake by the Trump campaign and party leaders. There is no need for confusion about this.

Should a state employee at the Division of Elections have placed a call to the Trump campaign on Aug. 30 to ask, "Where's your ad and your $300?" Probably.

But the bigger question is why the Trump campaign, which has a long list of prominent GOP backers in Alaska, including former Lt. Govs. Mead Treadwell and Loren Leman and a handful of current and former legislators, didn't have anyone taking care of this simple bit of campaign business.

For more than 40 years, the rule in Alaska has been that candidates who wish to appear in the election pamphlet are responsible for submitting information about themselves. They don't need an invitation.

There are always some clueless candidates who don't get the message. The first election pamphlet, issued in 1974, said that "some candidates do not appear because they failed to meet a filing deadline" as outlined in the election code.

The current requirements are spelled out on page 12 of the handbook for candidates. "This is your only notice regarding filing materials for the official election pamphlet," the handbook says.

Candidates for president who wish to appear in the pamphlet have to pay $300 and submit a statement of up to 250 words, along with a photograph taken within the last five years.

There is a detailed packet on the state website for presidential campaigns that also contains the specifics. The Aug. 30 deadline for presidential elections has been in state law since 1998, so it should not have been a surprise to the veteran political operatives on the Trump campaign.

The law does not say that the Division of Elections must contact the presidential campaign thrice, twice or even once about buying a subsidized ad.

It says, "No later than August 30 of a presidential election year, candidates for the offices of the United States president and vice president may file with the lieutenant governor photographs and statements advocating their candidacy."

The Clinton campaign paid for an ad, as did the Constitution Party, independent candidate Rocky De La Fuente and the Green Party.

I understand that missing the election pamphlet deadline is embarrassing for the Trump campaign and the GOP.

But rather than admit that they goofed, the Trump campaign and the party of personal responsibility are trying to deflect the blame onto the Division of Elections and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.

The division sent a letter on Aug. 2 to the Republican National Committee, copied to Alaska GOP Chairman Tuckerman Babcock, with a reminder about the pamphlet and the Aug. 30 deadline. That should have been enough to get the Republican Party's attention.

A similar letter was sent Aug. 11 to the Democratic National Committee, with a copy to Alaska Democratic Chairwoman Kay Brown.

"It doesn't look like the division made any real effort to reach out to the Republican candidate," Jerry Ward, one of the Trump co-chairs in Alaska, complained in a post copied on the GOP Facebook page.

Apparently the folks in Trump Tower should have been directly invited by the state to submit the $300 subsidized ad, according to Ward.

Ward claimed he's hearing from furious people claiming that Mallott, who supervises the division, is "trying to suppress Republican voter turnout."

To be fair, the fury should be directed at the Trump campaign and the party leaders.

Trump was not the only candidate who did not advertise. The Division of Elections said it sent 157 letters to candidates and 12 did not respond, including 10 legislative candidates — four Republicans, three Democrats, one Alaskan Independence Party member and one independent.

The division said Monday that candidates who did not apply will be able to have themselves added to the online version of the pamphlet if they pay the fees and respond this week.

I don't know why this leniency is necessary. It certainly wasn't in 2014 when Bill Walker failed to file for an ad in time, but the Parnell administration arranged for a supplemental publication to compensate for Walker's mistake.

If you are going to run for office in Alaska and want a subsidized ad, I don't see why the state needs to invite you to do so. The deadlines are already in state law. Any candidate who doesn't meet the requirements should be left out.

And if you are going to run for president, the cost should be more than $300, a rate that hasn't gone up in 20 years. The state pays about $350,000 to compile, print and distribute the pamphlet.

At least one of the candidates who did not make it into the pamphlet handled this situation in a mature fashion.

Anchorage Republican Natasha von Imhof said an email that she thought had been sent was not delivered. She found out after returning from a fishing trip by which time the deadline has passed. "It was an unfortunate error on our part," she told her supporters.

That's all the Trump campaign and the Alaska Republican Party need to say.

Columnist Dermot Cole can be reached at dermot@alaskadispatch.com. 

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com or click here to submit via any web browser.