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Former Anchorage assemblyman fined for lobbying violations

Ben Anderson

Former Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Coffey is expected to pay almost $12,000 in fines to the Alaska Public Offices Commission for failing to register as a lobbyist and for making illegal campaign contributions to 20 legislative candidates, according to an APOC agreement made public Thursday.

The penalties could have been much higher, with a maximum of $36,610, but Coffey will end up paying a little less than a third of that, the agreement states. In mid-December 2012, APOC filed its initial complaint against Coffey, which stemmed from November of 2011, when the Anchorage Assembly awarded Coffey and his company, Coffey Consulting, a $60,000 no-bid contract to lobby for city interests, including the controversial Port of Anchorage expansion. The contract stipulated that Coffey would lobby for the city from November of 2011 to May of 2012.

Therefore, the APOC agreement says, Coffey should have registered as a lobbyist beginning in November of 2011, but didn't actually do so until December of 2012, missing a total of six APOC reports that should have been filed under the rules for lobbyists. For failing to register, Coffey faced a potential fine of more than $21,000. That number was reduced to $4,322  -- an 80 percent reduction -- thanks to mitigating factors, including Coffey's inexperience in filing with APOC as a lobbyist.

While acting as a lobbyist, Coffey also made illegal campaign contributions in 2011 and 2012, APOC said.

"Mr. Coffey made $7,500 in prohibited contributions to 20 legislative candidates who were not within the legislative district in which he was eligible to vote," the agreement concluded. It is illegal for a lobbyist to contribute to any candidates outside of their own voting district, and all of the candidates to whom Coffey donated campaign funds will have to return his contributions, the agreement said.

"Mr. Coffey acknowledges and agrees that he now understands he should have registered as a lobbyist," APOC reported.

The maximum penalty for those contributions was $15,000, but that fine was cut in half to $7,500. All told, Coffey will pay $11,822.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben@alaskadispatch.com