Nikiski assembly candidate John Quick has been ordered to cease and desist working with a local political action group.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission held an expedited hearing this week to determine if Quick’s campaign was coordinating with Alaska Yes, a 501(c)4 non-profit group, on the placement of negative and misleading ads about one of Quick’s opponents.The group has also placed ads supporting Quick’s campaign.
Todd Smith of Kenai filed the complaint Wednesday, after he learned Quick was not only then still listed as a director of the group on the APOC website, but had been a member of the group when it filed its incorporation documents earlier this year.
“I was pretty apprehensive about putting in the complaint, because there’s no way to do it anonymously, obviously, it’s pretty public. But that’s good, because my whole intent was to raise awareness of it if nothing else," Smith said.
Other notable Peninsula Republicans are also associated with Alaska Yes, including assembly president Wayne Ogle, longtime Homer-based conservative political consultant Peter Zuyus and Quick’s former attorney, Blaine Gilman. Smith says he’s happy the commission heard his complaint, and hopes it will lead to more scrutiny for Alaska Yes.
“(It) turns out there’s a lot of people in the community who don’t think it’s right. I’ve had a lot of calls and a lot of support from good people I know who aren’t that involved who say ‘thank you, I saw those ads, too, and it’s just not right."
Quick officially resigned from Alaska Yes in March, but his campaign manager, Paul Huber, exchanged emails with other Alaska Yes officials regarding the social media ads over the last several weeks, according to testimony from the group’s treasurer. She said Huber was in the email chain reviewing the ads before they went out. Quick announced Huber’s resignation Thursday, as the state commission deliberated his case and on Friday, the treasurer for Alaska Yes resigned as well.
It’s illegal for a campaign or candidate to work with a group like Alaska Yes. The tax exempt status it enjoys allows it to take unlimited donations, and it doesn’t have to disclose the donors. The candidates the group supports have made few public appearances, turning down invitations for local media interviews and community candidate forums.
The commission also ordered APOC staff to investigate whether Quick violated contribution reporting requirements by failing to report the authorized or approved advertisements as campaign contributions. The staff will also recommend assessment on a possible civil penalty.