Probe continues in write-in campaign mailer case
Valdez man found to have violated campaign laws during city elections
Valdez Star file photo
This mailer sent to Valdez voters before last spring's municipal elections caused trouble for the author, Darryl Verfaillie.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) is further investigating a complaint lodged against a Valdez man its investigator determined had violated state campaign finance laws in the days before last spring's municipal elections.
The case, Crume vs. Verfaillie, came before the commission at its Sept 16 meeting.
"That was referred back to staff," said Paul Dauphinais, APOC's executive director. He said the complainant presented additional materials for investigation and that the commission will reconsider the matter at its next meeting on November 12. "The commission wanted to have Mr. Verfaillie respond to that material."
The original complaint, filed by Valdez man Allen Crume, alleged that Darryl Verfaillie violated state campaign finance laws last April by mailing an anonymous campaign message to Valdez post office box holders, urging voters to elect John Hozey as a write-in candidate for Valdez City Council.
The mailers did not state who paid for the campaign message endorsing Hozey, who had recently lost his position as city manager and was Verfaillie's former boss.
Verfaillie, who is head of the city's parks and recreation department, claimed he was not required by law to disclose his name on the mailers because he spent less than $500 to independently create and mail the campaign message.
Both Hozey and Verfaillie denied that the ex-city manager had prior knowledge of the mailer.
Crume's complaint also alleged that Verfaillie failed to file a required independent expenditure report to APOC that is required.
An investigation by APOC, based on Crume's complaint, found the value of the mailers exceeded the maximum $500 allowable cost because Verfaillie undervalued the cardstock used to print the message. The investigation also revealed that Verfaillie did not make the proper report as alleged by Crume.
The allegations as spelled out by the APOC investigator.
The investigator, Thomas Lucas, the watchdog group's campaign disclosure coordinator, found that the maximum fines for the violations totaled $1,650 but, citing mitigating factors such as Verfaillie's cooperation with the investigation and his attempt to follow the law by consulting the APOC website, allowed or a huge reduction of 95 percent of the fine.
Crume states he submitted materials to the APOC investigator before the Sept. hearing, suggesting that the cardstock used to create the mailers was not seven years old, as Verfaillie claimed in his answer to APOC investigators, and asked for further investigation into the source of the cardstock.
During the investigation, Verfaillie said in an email to Lucas that he estimated the value of the cardstock to not exceed $2 because it came from his wife's craft supplies, was at least seven years old and would not fetch a higher price than that at a yard sale.
The APOC investigation found the value of cardstock exceeded $2.