The Forrest Dunbar for Mayor campaign filed a complaint on Monday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) alleging the Bronson for Mayor campaign has engaged in "voluminous and serious alleged violations" of campaign finance regulations, including:
• Expenses and debt, including media buys and polls, have not been reported when incurred
• Unpaid campaign debt has not been carried over to the next reporting cycle
• Over the limit contributions have not been returned
• Contributions from businesses have been accepted
• Underreporting of expenditures
• Failure to provide details on media, advertising and consulting expenditures
Breaking Down The APOC Complaint
We won’t get to every complaint made by Dunbar's campaign to APOC in one sitting, but can focus on what is perhaps the largest allegation in the APOC complaint filed by the campaign — that Bronson, “may have accidentally incriminated his campaign as having received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions through the backdoor network that connects the Recall Rivera campaign and the dark-money Save Anchorage group,”according to the Dunbar campaign in a press release.
In its six-page complaint to APOC, the Dunbar campaign notes a graphic depicting polling data shared to the Dave Bronson for Mayor Facebook page. The graphic "Paid For By" language notes "Paid for by Bronson for Mayor."
Google searches conducted by the Dunbar campaign seeking the referenced WPA Intel (WPAi) poll conducted on 2-25-21 and the Remington Research Group poll conducted on 3-2-21 provided no direct links to the referenced polls, which led the Dunbar campaign to believe that the polls themselves were not released publicly.
The poll appears on the Must Read Alaska website in an April 2, 2021 piece titled “Final push: Sign-waving, polls, and the question about where voters are.”
Given the local nature of the polling, one might presume that the poll was commissioned by either a mayoral candidate’s campaign or an Independent Expenditure supporting a mayoral candidate — and it seems unlikely that one of the other conservative candidates would have paid for a poll and turned around and shared that data with the rival Bronson campaign, the Dunbar campaign wrote in their complaint to APOC.
A review made by the Dunbar campaign of the Bronson campaign’s Year Start Report, the 30 Day Report and the 7 Day Report yielded no expenditure or debt for polling or surveys according to the APOC complaint filed by Dunbar's campaign.
A search of the APOC database did reveal a payment by the Recall Rivera ballot group to WPAi dated 3-30-21 for $15,750 which the ballot group describes as "polling."
The original reported date of that polling expenditure previously came into question and was subsequently recently amended to 2-18-21 by Recall Rivera.
There is, however, one expenditure listed by the Bronson campaign to WPAi on 3-10-21 for a $1500 “Data Subscription." If the "data subscription" were a survey or poll it likely would have cost the Bronson campaign significantly more than the listed $1500 expenditure, the Dunbar campaign writes in their complaint to APOC.
When reached for comment about the polls via email, the Dunbar campaign responded:
“Given that we can find no record of these polls being published, it seems likely that the Recall Rivera campaign and/or others may have given the Bronson campaign access to their polling data. This would constitute a massive illegal campaign donation, freeing up tens of thousands of dollars that Bronson can now spend on television ads.”
The Dunbar campaign also wrote in its complaint to APOC that "given the revised date of Recall Rivera’s expenditure to WAPi for polling and the seeming lack of other possibilities, one might presume that the Recall Rivera campaign paid for mayoral polling and shared it with the Bronson campaign. If that were indeed the case, one would expect to see APOC reporting of that specific transaction between campaigns; and yet there is none."
Another referenced poll in the Bronson graphic was done by the Remington Research Group (RRG), which was founded in 2015 by Axiom Strategies. Perhaps interestingly, the Bronson campaign does not list any expenditures for the Remington Research Group.
But Bronson's campaign has paid Axiom Strategies $69,185 to date for “campaign consults” and “mail outs" according to APOC filings made by the campaign. Dunbar for Mayor has asked APOC to investigate whether these expenditures were polling costs disguised as “campaign consults.”
In their complaint filed with APOC, the Dunbar campaign also alleges the Bronson for Mayor campaign failed to provide details on payments to Axiom Strategies, a potential violation of 2 AAC 50.321 they note.
Dunbar's campaign says “campaign consultant” entries require additional detail and has asked APOC to investigate whether the dates listed in Bronson's campaign disclosures are the date the expenditure was incurred or the date the expenditure was paid.
Dunbar's campaign also asked APOC to investigate whether Axiom Strategies produced and mailed mail outs and whether subcontractors were used, according to the complaint filed with APOC.
The Dunbar campaign says in the complaint filed with APOC that they find the overlap between Recall Rivera and Bronson campaign personnel and vendors to be "significant and troubling." They note and The Blue Alaskan previously reported that Robert Phillips III of Dublin, Ohio is:
• President of Axiom Strategies
• Deputy Treasurer of the Recall Rivera campaign
• Treasurer of Independent Expenditure Group Reclaim Anchorage with Bronson
Robert Phillips III of Dublin, Ohio filed for a Trade Name Registration for “Recall Rivera” with the Ohio Secretary of State. The stated purpose is “To conduct political activities."
Phillips also filed a Trade Name Registration for “Reclaim Anchorage with Bronson” with the Ohio Secretary of State. The stated purpose is “To influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any Federal, State, or local public office.”
While Robert Phillips III is not directly involved with the Bronson for Mayor campaign aside from his position at Axiom Strategies, he is involved with both the Recall Rivera and Reclaim Anchorage with Bronson campaigns and banking for both is done in Ohio, says the Dunbar campaign in their complaint.
It is this overlap that the Dunbar for Mayor campaign says they find problematic and concerning. The Dunbar campaign sees Phillips' involvement in both Recall Rivera and Reclaim Anchorage with Bronson — to be one of the many messy linkages between the Bronson campaign and the Recall Rivera campaign.
In a nutshell, the Forrest Dunbar for Mayor campaign alleges the Bronson campaign had access to polling data involving the 2021 Anchorage mayoral race. Dunbar's campaign is asking APOC to investigate how the Bronson campaign got the polling data and who paid for it.
The Dunbar campaign has asked APOC for expedited consideration of their complaint.