A sign in opposition to Proposition 1 stands along Kalifornsky Beach Road near Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. The ads were paid for by AlaskaYes according to the sign. The Alaska Public Offices Commission expedited an investigation into a complaint against Nikiski borough assembly candidate John Quick over his alleged involvement with the group. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign in opposition to Proposition 1 stands along Kalifornsky Beach Road near Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. The ads were paid for by AlaskaYes according to the sign. The Alaska Public Offices Commission expedited an investigation into a complaint against Nikiski borough assembly candidate John Quick over his alleged involvement with the group. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Quick under scrutiny over election ads

The Alaska Public Offices Commission decided to expedite an investigation into a complaint.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission decided Wednesday to expedite an investigation into a complaint filed by a Kenai resident against Nikiski assembly candidate John Quick.

The decision was made during a public hearing accessed by the Clarion via teleconference.

Kenai resident Todd Smith, who brought the complaint to the state, said during the hearing that he wanted to learn more about Alaska Yes, Inc after he noticed ads that were being posted on social media by the organization.

Smith said he looked up Alaska Yes, Inc through the commission’s filing system and saw Quick was named as the organization’s director.

“It’s a lot of negative, untrue ads and there’s really no way for someone running an honest positive campaign to rebut them,” Smith said during the hearing. “There’s no one to rebut. It’s very effective and that’s why I felt the need to bring it before (the Alaska Public Offices Commission).”

The allegations originated from a Sept. 5 Alaska Public Offices Commission filing, which are required of candidates, groups and entities involving themselves in elections. The Sept. 5 filing of Alaska Yes, Inc lists Quick as the nonprofit’s director. The filing is now gone and in its place is a new submission, filed Wednesday morning, which does not include Quick’s name and shows an amendment that Quick resigned as the entity’s director in March.

Smith said he felt the nature of the ads being paid for by Alaska Yes, Inc will cause irreparable harm to both Quick’s opponent (Jesse Bjorkman) and other candidates for assembly.

“The nature of the ads — Tyson Cox supports satanists and wants to have everybody who votes arrested, Jesse Bjorkman is a puppet of the unions, Brent Johnson’s morals are floating down the Anchor River — all of which was funded through Alaska Yes,” Smith said.

On its Facebook page, Alaska Yes, Inc has posted ads against Cox, Bjorkman and Johnson. A website dedicated to opposing Cox — which includes a disclaimer saying it was paid for by Alaska Yes — also includes negative allegations against Cox.

For the hearing, Quick provided the commission with his resignation letter from Alaska Yes Inc, as well as the entity’s Domestic Nonprofit Corporation Initial Biennial Report, filed on Sept. 6, which does not list Quick as a director or board member of the organization.

The organization’s May 5 incorporation filing shows Quick as a founder and initial incorporator of Alaska Yes, Inc. Quick said Wednesday during the hearing and to the Clarion that he resigned March 25 and has had no involvement with the organization since.

“I did help them incorporate back in March,” Quick said at the hearing. “Within two to three weeks, I resigned … When we filed we were wanting to champion certain issues in Alaska and at the time it was issues I didn’t necessarily want to champion, so I resigned and parted ways with them. I haven’t had any communication with them since.”

Attorney Blaine Gilman and Homer political activist Peter Zuyus are also listed as the organization’s incorporators. During Wednesday’s hearing, Quick said his attorney was with Gilman and Associates, but that he was not being represented by Blaine Gilman for this specific matter.

In both filings, Zuyus is listed as the president, Kathy Toms is listed as the treasurer and the filer, Nona Safra is listed as vice president and Wayne Ogle, current Nikiski representative on the assembly, is also listed as the entity’s vice president. Safra is the chairperson of the Alaska Republican Party District 31.

Ogle did not return a Wednesday afternoon phone call from the Clarion.

Quick said during the hearing that the error was in the filing of the Sept. 5 report, where he’s listed as the director. Toms, who filed the Sept. 5 report, told the Clarion that listing Quick as the director was a “total mistake.” She said she did not see a change of officers, and was pulling information from old documents. Quick, during Wednesday’s hearing, said he didn’t know who Toms was.

Alaska Yes, Inc is incorporated as a nonprofit and is filed with the commission as an entity. On its website, Alaska Yes also claims to be a super PAC or an independent expenditure group; however, the organization has not filed with the commission as such. The alaskayes.org website identifies AlaskaYes LLC as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit “established to provide independent expenditures for conservative political candidates and to advocate for conservative issues throughout the State of Alaska.” The Alaska Yes Facebook page, which includes a link to alaskayes.org, says the site was paid for by AlaskaYes, and certifies that “all ads are not authorized, paid for or approved by candidates.”

Alaska Yes, Inc, through its Facebook page, is supporting Quick’s campaign through post shares from Quick’s campaign Facebook. Alaska Yes, Inc’s Facebook page has also posted video endorsements from Mayor Charlie Pierce and Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, in support of Quick. An endorsement message from Pierce was no longer on the Alaska Yes Facebook page as of Wednesday evening. Quick posted a different endorsement video from the mayor on his own campaign Facebook page Wednesday afternoon.

AlaskaYes has purchased advertising in local news outlets and has posted signs in opposition to Proposition 1.

“They haven’t reported spending any money yet, but they’re obviously buying domains and spending money to influence the election, both in favor of Mr. Quick and in opposition of his opponent, and in opposition of some other borough assembly candidates,” Smith said during the hearing. “To my knowledge it’s a clear violation of campaign law.”

During the hearing, Quick said he did not know why Alaska Yes, Inc was supporting his candidacy.

“If the organization was incorporated by Mr. Quick and he’s in fact the director of the organization, I don’t see how that could be possible,” Smith said during the hearing.

Quick told the Clarion following the hearing that he has not been involved with Alaska Yes, Inc since March 25.

“I can’t control what other people are putting out there, but I can control what I’m putting out there,” Quick said.

The commission — the state entity for campaign disclosures — said in their public hearing Wednesday afternoon that they had reasonable cause to hold an expedited hearing, because if the alleged violation is not immediately restrained, it could materially affect the outcome of the election.

An expedited hearing will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

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