Fine reduced in APOC campaign violation case
Watchdog group finds materials used in mailer were not ill-gained
A Valdez man will pay a reduced fine for violating state campaign laws after a state watchdog group found he had legitimately acquired materials used to create an independent endorsement mailer in last spring's municipal elections.
Darryl Verfaillie was fined $50 by the Alaska Public Offices Commission, APOC, for failing to put his name on an election mail out endorsing his former boss as an independent write-in candidate for city council. Verfaillie also failed to file an independent expenditure report that is also required when a person or organization spends money to endorse a candidate in any state election.
"I have the utmost respect for the Alaska Public Offices Commission and thank them for their understanding and patience throughout this extended process that wasted both their valuable time and state revenues," Verfaillie said Monday in an email sent through his wife, Pamela. "As I have stated from the beginning, and APOC agreed in their findings, I believed that I had followed all of their rules. When asked about the mailer, I readily answered with the truth about my involvement and have cooperated fully with the investigation."
Valdez man Alan Crume filed the APOC complaint against Verfaillie.
"It is obvious from the 5-0 vote to further reduce my fine to a nominal $50, despite Mr. Crume’s repeated trips to Anchorage to testify against me at the hearings, that APOC is in agreement that this was not a significant nor intentional violation of their rules," Verfaillie said.
According to APOC, the investigation concluded that "Verfaillie believed in good faith that he was not required to include “paid for by” identifiers...because he believed that the postcards he sent cost less than $500. However, the APOC staff determined that Verfaillie erred in not including the value of the donated cardstock he used to print the postcards, and that when that cost was included, the cost of the postcards exceeded $500."
The maximum penalty for all violations is $1,650, but the APOC investigator, Thomas Lucas, campaign disclosure coordinator, recommended last June that the fines be reduced to $82.50, because the violations were unintentional and Verfaillie had made a good-faith effort to follow campaign laws. The final decision on fines was put in the hands of the APOC board.
The board met last September. According to APOC, Crume challenged Verfaillie’s assertion that the cardstock he used was from his wife's personal supply and was at least seven years old.
"Crume suggested that forensic testing might establish that the cardstock was actually obtained by Verfaillie from his employer," the APOC report from November says. "The APOC staff reported that after further investigation, it determined that the cardstock used by Verfaillie to make the postcards came from cardstock that Verfaillie’s spouse accumulated over the years for craft projects. However, staff’s recommendation did not change following the additional investigation."
Verfaillie's mailers endorsed John Hozey as a write-in candidate for city council. Hozey was the city's former city manager - and Verfaillie's former boss - who had lost his contract with the city in the weeks prior to the May elections.