The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Fine imposed for write-in election mailer

APOC finds Verfaillie violated laws in touting Hozey as write-in

 

A copy of the APOC complaint filed by Alan Crume.

A community leader in Valdez is being fined by the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) after the state's election watchdog agency found he violated two provisions governing state rules regarding campaign contributions.

Darryl Verfaillie, age 50, got into hot water last May after he produced and mailed a small election flyer urging voters to elect John Hozey to Valdez City Council as a write-in candidate. Valdez man Alan Crume filed a complaint with APOC alleging Verfaillie failed to identify himself on the mailer as having paid for the election message and that he failed to file a required expenditure report to APOC regarding the mailer.

Verfaillie, the city's director of parks and recreation and a member of the board of education, faced fines totaling $1650 but the investigator noted mitigating factors that reduced the fines down to $82.50.

The fine was imposed June 29 based on the investigation of Thomas Lucas, APOC campaign disclosure coordinator.

The drama unfolded in late April when a number of Valdez postal customers received flyers urging voters to elect John Hozey as a write-in candidate for Valdez City Council. Hozey, Verfaillie's former boss, had been fired as city manager April 22, and the municipal elections were held May 5.

At the time, Verfaillie said he did not have to disclose his identity on the mail-out, citing a state election law, AS 15.13.065 ( c ).

The flyers, measuring 5.5 inches across and a little over four inches down, were printed on thin card stock type paper of various colors. The front of the mailer, addressed to BOXHOLDER, contained the disclaimer "This mailing is not authorized, paid for or approved by the candidate. Cost of mailing does not exceed $500 as per AS 15.13.065 ( c ).

APOC found that while Verfaillie spent only $498 for the price of postage and printing costs, he failed to include the value of the card stock in the total.

The APOC investigation report said Verfaillie considered the card stock to worth only $2 – the price he believed it might fetch at a local garage sale - because it was from his wife's craft supplies in already-opened packages that were at least seven years old.

APOC says the law requires not only cash spent on election communications be included in the price of election communications, but "anything of value."

APOC investigated the price of loose cardstock at retail craft stores in Anchorage and found the cost of 300 sheets exceeded $2. The cheapest price found for the same type of cardstock in the quantity required for the Verfaillie mail out was $12.

"Based on the investigation, (sic) Staff concludes that the value of the Respondent's independent expenditure exceeded $500, albeit minimally, and that a "paid for by" identifier was required," the investigation report said.

Lucas's report also states: Every person who makes an independent expenditure is required to file an independent expenditure report. There is no minimum amount that triggers the report."

Reports are normally due within ten days of the expenditure – unless it is made within nine days of the election and the cost exceeds $250. That scenario requires a report to APOC within 24 hours.

Valdez Star photo

This election mailer endorsing former city manager John Hozey as a write-in candidate for city council got its sponsor in trouble with APOC.

Verfaillie was also unaware he was required to file an expenditure report to APOC within 24-hours according to the report.

The investigation also found that Verfaillie did indeed create and distribute the mailers without the consent or knowledge of Hozey.

"Both Respondent and Mr. Hozey have denied any direct or indirect cooperation or coordination with the respect to the postcards in question," the report says. "Staff has received no evidence to the contrary."

Mitigating factors that reduced Verfaillie's fine included the fact it was the first-time he had ever paid for an independent expenditure and that he had attempted to follow the law by visiting the APOC website.

 

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