Ongoing violations were part of a deliberate scheme to hide Dark Money donors from the public view
Update October 18: Continued violation in new digital ads. Those opposing Ballot Measure 2 are committed to their dark money and secret tactics.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) ruled today, October 8, that the Defend Alaska Elections campaign was guilty of blatant, intentional and ongoing election law violations designed to purposely mislead voters and obscure that Dark Money donors from Washington, DC have been funding their fight against Ballot Measure 2 – the initiative intended to create campaign finance transparency and advance much-needed reforms to Alaska’s electoral process.
The term “Dark Money” describes the millions of anonymous dollars that flow into Alaska’s elections each cycle with little or no real information about the true source of the funds. Ballot Measure 2 would strengthen campaign finance disclosure requirements in order to end the corrupting influence of Dark Money spending in Alaska’s elections.
Alaska law requires campaigns to disclose their top three donors on any communication with voters. Yet, for over a month, Defend Alaska Elections has misled voters and election officials by falsely claiming that three individual Alaskans were their top donors. In reality those named Alaskans hadn’t even donated 1% of Defend Alaska Elections’ funds. The real top donors to Defend Alaska Elections are Dark Money groups that don’t reveal where they get their funds, including one group that’s funded by a multi-national banking company specializing in bitcoin transactions.
Why is the Defend Alaska Elections campaign working so hard to create a loophole that allows multi-national corporations and outside special-interest groups to spend unlimited, virtually untraceable sums of money to influence our elections?
Fortunately, the Alaska Public Offices Commission has found that Defend Alaska Elections Is blatantly violating the law by using disclaimers that are “wildly … inaccurate” and has ordered the group to correct the deceptive disclaimer within three days.
“This scheme to deceive voters disgusts me, as it should disgust all Alaskans. This group’s willingness to hide the sources of Dark Money they’re using to fight Ballot Measure 2’s disclosure requirements just proves how badly we need to pass this measure,” said Shea Siegert, Campaign Manager for Yes on 2 for Better Elections. “Now, more than ever–Alaskans have a fundamental right to know who is paying to influence their vote.”
“The testimony at the hearing was disturbing. Defend Alaska Elections Campaign Manager, Brett Huber, described a deliberate scheme to exploit a perceived loophole in the law to hide the identity of those funding his campaign. Fortunately, APOC applied the clear law and sent a message to Huber and others that you cannot abuse Alaska’s campaign disclosure requirements,” said attorney for Yes on 2, Sam Gottstein. “Sadly, this is not surprising behavior from this group. They have already attempted to hide one source of support by refunding contributions from disgraced Pebble Mine CEO, Tom Collier, despite the known, close relationship between Collier and Huber. This behavior by bad actors proves that we need strong campaign finance enforcement, and that we need to vote yes on Ballot Measure 2 for stronger disclosure provisions.”