The Alaska Public Offices Commission will hear three out of more than 200 complaints that in some way relate to an annual Kenai River Fishing event, but two officials have already amended their filings to correct the issue, they said.
APOC accepted three complaints, and rejected another 198, that in some way relate to the Kenai River Classic.
The commission will likely hear the three accepted complaints within 90 days of Aug. 27, according to APOC Executive Director Paul Dauphinais.
For APOC to accept a complaint for consideration, it must meet technical standards, and must be something that, if the allegation is true it would be a violation, according to Dauphinais.
The technical component requires that the complaint is signed, notarized, and accompanied by proof that the appropriate parties were served.
The complaints filed against Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources Ed Fogels and Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell assert that they did not declare their participation in the Kenai River Classic, nor the gifts they received at the event, on public disclosure forms. A similar complaint was filed against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell for not declaring his daughter’s participation or gifts.
Both Campell and Fogels have since amended their APOC reports to reflect their participation in the event, they said Aug. 28. Treadwell said his daughter did not participate.
The Kenai River Classic is an annual invitational fishing event held to raise money for the Kenai River Sportfishing Association’s work in habitat restoration, and fisheries education, management and research. According to KRSA’s website, the event has raised more than $14 million during the past 20 years.
Participation in the classic cost $4,000 in 2014, and the complaints assert that the value ranges from $4,000-$5,000. The fee is typically waived for public officials, including those against whom the complaints were made.
Campbell said in an Aug. 28 that she had initially reported her participation to her ethics supervisor as required by the state’s Ethics Act. More recently, she has amended her 2011 filing to APOC to include the classic, she wrote the email.
Fogels said Aug. 28 that he is working on his response to APOC, and has filed an amended APOC disclosure reflecting his participation. Like Campbell, he said he had reported her attendance to his ethics supervisor, and thought that was adequate.
He also noted that he thought the event was a valuable experience, and he thought it was in everyone’s best interests for officials to continue attending and seeing the Kenai River — parts of which are a park managed by the Department of Natural Resource’s state parks arm.
Treadwell said that the complaint was not accurate, and his daughter and friends paid a guide service to take them out fishing after the 2013 classic, but did not participate in the actual event.
“Natalie was not there, she was not with us on the boats fishing,” Treadwell said.
The complaint was based on information provided by KRSA that said Treadwell’s daughter participated. KRSA was not able to immediately explain the discrepancy.
Treadwell noted that Natalie did eat one meal — a taco — when her visit to the area overlapped with the classic, but that he had been told the value of that was not high enough to include on his disclosure form.
The complaints were filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, or APOC, Aug. 25, and published on the commission’s website Aug. 27.
According to Dauphinais, the commission will be ready for hearings on each of the complaints in about 45 days, and generally tries to hear each issue within 90 days of accepting the complaint. That timeline can vary based on the commission’s meeting schedule and because individuals have the opportunity to ask for extensions, he said.
For now, each of the officials must respond to APOC by Sept. 11.
APOC staff also has 30 days from Aug. 27 to complete its investigation and issue a staff report. Once the report is prepared, each official has 15 days to respond.
Then the commission will have a hearing on each complaint.
The complaints were filed by three different Kenai Peninsula residents.
Homer resident Elaine Chalup filed the complaint against Fogels. Kasilof resident Benjamin Clare filed the complaint against Treadwell. The complaint against Campbell was filed by Homer resident Garland Blanchard.
The complaints also note that gifts given to event attendees, in addition to the comped participation fee.
For 2011, the year Campbell attended, KRSA estimated the value of the gifts given to each of the officials in 2011 at $5, elaborating that it was unclear if every attendee received them. The list of gifts included a gear bag, turtle neck, baseball cap and gloves, each with KRSA’s name or logo on them, which the organization reported devalues the items.
For 2013, the year Fogels attended, KRSA’s financial disclosure estimated the value of the gifts it provided at $6. Those included a gear bag, quarter zip shirt, baseball cap, softshell jacket and gloves, with a reduction of value because they had KRSA’s name or logo on each of them.
The attendee list for the 2011 and 2013 Kenai River Classics included several legislators, fisheries managers and other public officials.
KRSA has advocated for fisheries management in Juneau, as well as at the Board of Fisheries Upper Cook Inlet meeting in 2014 and other past board meetings.
Molly Dischner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.