Dunleavy tops latest fundraiser in Alaska governors race

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Republican Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is leading his opponents in fundraising for the final reporting period before the Nov. 8 general election.

His campaign reported in a filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission about $600,000 in contributions between Aug. 7 and Friday, with nearly $920,000 available at the end of the reporting period and $12,500 in debt. Democrat Les Gara’s campaign reported about $400,000 in contributions, with nearly $520,000 available and $158,000 in debt. Independent Bill Walker’s campaign brought in nearly $460,000 in contributions, with about $470,000 available and about $23,000 in debt.

Republican Charlie Pierce’s campaign brought in less than $8,000 in contributions and about $6,100 in hand.

Dunleavy’s critics have raised concerns about the lack of paid staff working on her campaign. Alaska’s Commission on Public Offices is scheduled to consider Wednesday whether to expedite a hearing into a complaint filed by public advocacy groups that allege, in part, that the governor “appears to be subsidizing his campaign both with the activities official personnel, as well as activities by recipients of “no-tender” contracts with the governor’s office.”

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group and Initiative 907 also alleged poor coordination between Dunleavy’s campaign and a third-party group that supports his re-election.

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Dunleavy’s campaign called the complaint “a frivolous and baseless political attack disguised as a serious complaint.”

This is the first round of state elections since a split federal appeals court panel last year struck down multiple campaign contribution caps. The public office commission said there are no longer limits to what an individual can donate to candidates or non-partisan groups.

The largest contributions in Dunleavy’s latest report came from Robert Penney of Anchorage and Dunleavy’s brother, Francis Dunleavy, of Texas – each of whom donated $100,000. Both were major contributors in 2018 to a third-party group that backed Dunleavy’s election. Both have been prominent supporters of Dunleavy’s current campaign.

Gara’s report lists his largest contribution as coordinated non-monetary campaign services for the Democratic Party of Alaska mail, worth more than $110,000. It lists the same amounts as expenses. Spokeswoman Amber Lee said the campaign paid for the mail but through the party mail license.

Gara on social media has touted his grassroots support.

Walker, a former governor, indicated in the latest report a $100,000 contribution from Marc Merrill, co-founder of Riot Games, a gaming company.

Pierce’s campaign in late August released a statement saying he planned to step down as mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough effective September 30 to focus on campaigning. The statement said he had “previously pledged to step down” after the primary.

The borough assembly released a statement last month saying that in July a borough employee reported allegations of harassment by Pierce and that a law firm hired by the borough to investigate “had found the allegations credible”.

Pierce has run a low-key campaign since the primary.

The gubernatorial candidates present themselves as a ticket with their running mates.

The general election will be a ranked choice election, under a system approved by voters in 2020.

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