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Politics

Alaska campaign regulator says conservative group is illegally campaigning against ‘Better Elections’ initiative

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: October 22
  • Published October 21

A man places his completed 2020 general election ballot into the dropbox outside the State Division of Elections office, located at 2525 Gambell St., in Anchorage on Oct. 13, 2020. (Emily Mesner / ADN)

The staff of the Alaska Public Offices Commission is recommending a fine of $8,065 against the Alaska Policy Forum for what it says was illegal campaigning against Ballot Measure 2.

“APF has engaged in a recent burst of activity against ranked-choice voting as the November election approaches,” said Tom Lucas, APOC’s campaign disclosure coordinator, in the recommendation published Tuesday.

If approved by voters, Ballot Measure 2 would install ranked-choice voting during the general election and make several other changes to Alaska’s election system.

The Alaska Policy Forum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that generally promotes small-government, limited-regulation ideals.

The group backing Ballot Measure 2 had filed a complaint in September against both the Policy Forum and the chairman of the largest vote-no group, but Lucas found no link between the vote-no group and the Policy Forum and dismissed part of the complaint.

The Alaska Policy Forum, a registered nonprofit, told Lucas that the information it shared was only informational.

Lucas said state campaign law has been previously interpreted to take into account the timing of informational activity when determining whether a group is campaigning.

“Here, APF’s objection to ranked-choice voting did not begin until an initiative concerning ranked-choice voting was proposed,” he wrote.

Melodie Wilterdink, vice president of operations and communications for the Policy Forum, said she hadn’t seen Lucas’ report, but they “definitely stand by our initial response that was filed in the complaint.”

The Public Offices Commission is scheduled to consider the recommended fine at its next regular meeting, after the election.

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