The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) has refused to allow itself to be drawn into a tightly contested Senate race this year.
Current and incoming Republican Party leaders last week took part in a press conference where they made campaign violation charges about Democratic Senator Hollis French. French is running for reelection against Republican Senate Candidate Bob Bell. However, APOC didn’t let the charges stick at a hearing yesterday.
Bell himself has been under scrutiny recently for not reporting Veco’s Bill Allen for offering him a bribe, refusing to release the names and amount of money he received from his business clients, and then — under pressure — disclosing that B-P gave him a million dollars for his work. He also hasn’t been able to silence those stories about illegal hunting and trophy activities when he was a member of the Board of Game.
The Party leaders claimed that French had gone beyond the limits by illegally coordinating advertising campaigns with an independent support group. They wanted the Alaska Public Offices Commission to hold an expedited hearing so they could order French and the independent group to stop all advertising between now and the election. APOC held its initial hearing yesterday to determine if the complaints need quick attention.
The Commission was not impressed with the “evidence” it saw and refused to act immediately on the complaint.
The center of the complaint by Republican Activist Bernadette Wilson was that French and the group Putting Alaskans First shared some of the vendors in developing their advertising campaigns. She said one person’s representing several clients is the equivalent of coordination – especially when their messages are similar.
French called the complaint an “eleventh hour publicity ploy” that does not make a direct, coordinated connection between his campaign and the independent group. He told the commission that he has common vendors with several candidates, but that does not indicate coordination. Putting Alaskans First pointed out that the dates of actions taken by the shared vendor do not lead to the presumption of coordination.
APOC chose not to vote on the question or to hear more of the complaint. It will be scheduled for a regular board meeting after a complete investigation takes place — well after the election.