Murkowski attorney: Contributions to Alaska GOP were legal

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Tuesday, October 25, 2016 10:33pm
  • News

JUNEAU — An attorney for U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s campaign said Tuesday that contributions the campaign made to the Alaska Republican party were legal.

Attorney Timothy McKeever also pointed to a 2004 advisory opinion from the Federal Election Commission, or FEC, that says that a candidate’s principal campaign committee can transfer any contributions it receives to a state political party.

The campaign of one of Murkowski’s rivals, Libertarian Joe Miller, had raised questions about the transfers. Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said by email Tuesday that the Miller campaign’s attorney specializing in FEC issues was reviewing the matter.

Murkowski’s recent campaign disclosure showed her campaign transferred $150,300 to the state Republican party in several transactions last month.

State GOP chairman Tuckerman Babcock said there is nothing unusual about the transfers. He said donations can be used for get-out-the-vote efforts, absentee application mailings or pieces “denouncing” opponents of Republican candidates, “as we’re doing with Joe Miller.”

“Obviously Mr. Miller doesn’t like that,” said Babcock, who on Monday filed an election complaint against Miller alleging that he had effectively converted his conservative website into a campaign site without proper disclaimers.

Babcock also took issue, among other things, with a $4,500 in-kind donation that Miller reported was from the state GOP.

DeSoto said Miller can legally donate his own money and resources. The $4,500 refers to the conservative value of thousands of old campaign mailers originally paid for by the state GOP that were dropped at Miller’s campaign office by a member of the Republican party, DeSoto wrote in an email.

Miller was the 2010 GOP Senate nominee after he beat Murkowski in that year’s primary. Murkowski won a general election write-in campaign to keep her seat.

Miller changed his party affiliation to Libertarian and became a last-minute substitute on the Libertarian ticket last month.

Babcock said a lot of the money from Murkowski’s campaign is going toward the party’s get-out-the-vote push.

He said he outlined for the Republican congressional delegation, GOP state legislative leaders and presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign things the state party was doing and wanted to do and said he’d be grateful for any funds to help.

U.S. Rep. Don Young’s campaign reported $1,500 in donated office rent to the state party between July 28 and Sept. 30 and $2,000 toward a party picnic. Babcock said Alaska’s junior U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, has appeared at fundraisers.

Regardless of where the money’s coming from, Babcock said he is pursuing the party’s message.

That even means having a picture of Trump alongside pictures of Murkowski and Young on a letter accompanying absentee ballot applications sent out by the GOP. Murkowski and Young have tried to keep their distance from Trump, with Murkowski saying she won’t support him. She said she’s not supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton either.

As of Sept. 30, Murkowski reported having nearly $1.6 million available for her campaign, far more than any of her rivals.

Miller’s FEC filing reported raising about $193,000 and ending the period with about $275,000.

The numbers are slightly off from what Miller’s campaign originally reported earlier this month.

DeSoto attributed the discrepancy to a miscommunication between him and the treasurer on the final version of the report submitted.

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