Alaska News

North Slope Borough Assembly hires law firm to investigate payments to mayor's relatives

The North Slope Borough Assembly voted Monday to investigate allegations of ethics violations made against the office of Mayor Charlotte Brower.

At Brower's request, the Assembly voted to hire law firm Perkins Coie to examine borough purchases from members of her family.

The 7-0 vote Monday approved a resolution that refers to "questions from members of the community regarding the legitimacy of these procurements, the procurement process and document security within the North Slope Borough and particularly the mayor's office."

The resolution is signed by Forrest Olemaun, the Assembly president, as well as Brower. The vote was first reported by KTUU.

In a memo to the Assembly last week, Brower said staff members in her office approved purchases of goods from her family members without her knowledge under a borough policy that allowed no-bid purchases of less than $10,000.

Those purchases, Brower said in the memo, created the "appearance of impropriety." And in February, she issued a new directive requiring three informal bids before the borough buys goods or services from any employee or employee's family member, the memo said.

In late May, a law firm, Holland and Knight, filed a public records request for documents related to contracts and payments to Brower's relatives, which was fulfilled by the borough's law department, her memo said.


Brower was traveling and unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon, said a spokeswoman, Kristine Hilderbrand, who emailed an 11-page statement to the media that included the mayor's memo to the Assembly as well as a prepared statement.

"I take public concerns and allegations about any department very seriously and I felt that it was in the best interest of our residents for an independent investigation to occur to promote transparency and accountability within the borough," the statement quoted Brower as saying.

Hilderbrand said she didn't know what goods or services the borough had purchased from Brower's family members and the news release didn't specify.

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage-based independent journalist Nathaniel Herz has been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at