The Alaska Public Offices Commission continued its hearing on a complaint it received about Nikiski assembly candidate John Quick Thursday. A political action group has been posting ads on his behalf on social media and his associations with that group have landed him in murky ethical waters yet again.
Todd Smith of Kenai filed the complaint with APOC and requested an expedited hearing. That was granted Wednesday and Smith presented his case, that Quick was working with a group called AlaskaYes in violation of state election law.
“(I) Just saw a lot of really negative ads and did a little looking into AlaskaYes and, of course they’re a 501(c)4, so you can’t really see where they’re getting their money, but you can see their articles of incorporation and their filing with APOC. At that time, their APOC filing listed Mr. Quick as a director and their articles of incorporation are signed by Mr. Quick and the incumbent for the seat he’s running for, Wayne Ogle.”
A number of prominent Peninsula Republicans are involved in AlaskaYes, including assembly president Wayne Ogle, Homer-based political consultant Peter Zuyus and Quick’s attorney, Blaine Gilman.
Quick officially resigned from the group in March, however as recently as Wednesday, he was still listed as a director on the APOC website. He denied having any communication with AlaskaYes about the ads it’s creating, but the group’s treasurer told the commission that Quick’s campaign manager, Paul Huber, had been in email contact with the group in recent weeks regarding those same ads. Quick also denied any knowledge of that.
“Paul Huber is my campaign manager, but I’m not aware of any emails he’s on as it relates to AlaskaYes, or what his involvement is with them. You’d have to ask him that.”
Quick announced the resignation of of Huber as his campaign chair about an hour and a half after the commission went into its executive session.
Quick has been quiet on the campaign trail. He turned down KDLL’s invitation to join the other candidates in his assembly race on this week’s Kenai Conversation. He was also absent from a Chamber of Commerce candidate forum this week in Kenai. AlaskaYes, so far, seems to only be targeting one of Quick’s opponents, Jesse Bjorkman, who had this to say about the campaign:
“You know, John Quick looked me in the eye at the beginning of this race and said I want you to know that I plan on running a clean campaign. And I don’t see that happening right now. For someone to call me a puppet or someone to do other things like that is a flat-out lie.”
AlaskaYes targeted Bjorkman mostly based on his role a union negotiator for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Education Association, which just this week, agreed on a tentative contract with the school district, avoiding a teacher strike. Bjorkman is a teacher at Nikiski.
But AlaskaYes is going after other candidates with negative ads as well. Tyson Cox has been targeted as has Brent Johnson. He ran successful assembly campaigns in 2010 and 13 and has served on borough boards and commissions going back almost 25 years. He says it’s unfair to voters that candidates aren’t making themselves available in public forums, and he’s not impressed by the secretive funding behind ads, either.
“My number one thought is that...I’ve personally decided not to take campaign contributions just to avoid this sort of thing. Let’s have a clean race, let’s put this issues out there and let’s not have anybody controlling us. I don’t want someone who gives me a campaign contribution to then think I owe them something.”
The commission has two days to issue its decision.