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Anchorage legislator and 2 associates charged with election misconduct

JUNEAU — The Alaska Department of Law has accused state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, and two associates of election fraud in 2018 and 2014.

The accusations were listed in charging documents filed Friday and are the result of a two-year state investigation that also involved the FBI.

According to a sworn affidavit, text messages obtained under search warrant “raised concerns that LeDoux had solicited and/or encouraged people who did not live in her district to vote in the House District 15 primary and general elections in 2018 and 2014.”

The state accuses LeDoux, her former chief of staff Lisa Simpson, and Simpson’s son, Caden Vaught, of 18 charges collectively, including five felonies and 13 misdemeanors. Online court records did not list defense attorneys for any of the three.

“This is far from the end of the criminal justice process,” Attorney General Kevin Clarkson said during a news conference Friday.

John Skidmore, head of the state’s criminal division, said all three have been issued summonses. Online court records indicate they will appear in court April 3.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, on the first day of the legislative session on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

LeDoux was in the state Capitol in Juneau on Friday and declined to answer questions verbally. Instead, she wrote a statement:

"Earlier today, I learned of the charges from the Department of Law. Because this is a pending legal matter, I cannot comment about the details other than to state that I am innocent of all charges and look forward to clearing my name in a court of law," she said.

LeDoux continued work as normal throughout the day. Her statement came after she finished sitting as a member of the House’s Judiciary committee. In an email sent to constituents on Friday, she wrote that she will be hosting a “Gabbing with Gabby” event at Flo’s Pancake House from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Simpson did not answer a call to her cellphone Friday afternoon or respond to a text message at the same number.

Greg Smith, a City and Borough of Juneau Assemblyman and legislative staffer who worked on LeDoux’s 2018 campaign, declined comment. Courtney Enright, another former LeDoux staffer and campaign worker, did not answer a phone call at her office. She now works for the governor.

The charges will be forwarded to a grand jury, said Skidmore. Asked whether additional charges will be filed, he said that investigations will continue but he doesn’t have a “crystal ball.”

The investigation began under the administration of Gov. Bill Walker and continued under the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the charging documents say.

LeDoux, though a registered Republican, has previously been criticized by the state’s Republican Party, which endorsed other Republicans in races against her. LeDoux has filed a letter of intent to seek re-election this year.

Asked whether political considerations factored into the timing of charges, Clarkson said, “No. Politics has played no part in this whatsoever.”

According to charging documents, state investigators obtained text messages from LeDoux’s phone and submitted them to outside review by the U.S. Department of Justice. That review finished in February, and charging documents indicate that investigators conducted followup interviews as late as last week.

“Multiple text messages were found that showed that LeDoux requested at least two people to vote in her district — despite their having told LeDoux that they no longer lived in the district,” charging documents state, referring to the 2014 election.

The documents quote a pair of messages sent to a prospective voter the day before the 2014 election.

“Dot, don’t worry about the legality of this,” one says.

The investigation into LeDoux began two years ago after elections officials became suspicious of activity in House District 15 during the 2018 Republican primary. Before the vote, the division received absentee ballot applications from dead voters, and after the vote, officials learned at least two absentee ballots were cast in the names of people who said they didn’t vote.

At one Muldoon mobile home park in the district, a single trailer was listed as the home of at least 17 registered Republican voters. Another trailer had at least 14 registered voters.

No charges mention those facts, and Skidmore said he could not reveal why.

The Alaska Division of Elections ultimately set aside 26 ballots, all cast in favor of LeDoux, who won the primary by more than 100 votes.

LeDoux was on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives when the documents were released and returned to her office during a news conference called by the Department of Law.

She declined to answer questions in the hallways of the Capitol and said she would issue a written statement.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, and House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, said they are considering whether to take legislative action against LeDoux.

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