North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower has paid her unusually large fine for her "egregious" violations of Alaska's campaign finance laws, though the check arrived late and only after regulators threatened to refer the bill for collection by the state attorney general.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission approved the penalty of $34,970 in September after Brower's campaign made reporting violations that included not filing a disclosure report due in January 2015. The report would have revealed activity leading up to the election in 2014 and the end of the campaign after the election.
Also, incomplete information the campaign provided to APOC included "material omissions," such as $5,500 in contributions that were not disclosed but were revealed by bank statements. The commission in September faulted Brower for "egregious" conduct and a "glaring lack of cooperation." Her campaign treasurer was her husband, Eugene Brower, whose own term as borough mayor in the 1980s ended in a scandal in which two of his key advisers went to prison for accepting kickbacks from contractors.
Charlotte Brower, who was re-elected in 2014, faces a recall election April 5 related to allegations that she misused borough funds, including to send three of her grandchildren to a basketball camp in California. One of the violations in the APOC case is an unauthorized payment of $850 by the campaign to one of Brower's daughters. That daughter, Crystal Tula'i, received tens of thousands of dollars from the borough for cakes and pies.
Brower's payment should have been made, or the fine should have been appealed, in November. After Brower did not appeal, APOC staff notified her in mid-January that her payment was delinquent.
Brower's payment arrived late Monday in the form of cashier's check, two days before the commission was set to consider referring the penalty to the attorney general's office for collection. The possible referral was an "unusual" step because most penalties are typically paid in a timely manner, said Heather Hebdon, APOC's campaign disclosure coordinator
The payment included $510 for APOC investigation costs. Brower also included proof she had paid $340 in excessive cash contributions that were returned to individual contributors, Hebdon said.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing