INVESTIGATION COULD INVOLVE HER ENTIRE STAFF
House Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, in a reputation crisis over an alleged vote-buying scheme, now has 116 more votes than her primary challenger, Aaron Weaver.
In a matter that has been referred to the Department of Law for investigation of potential fraud in the LeDoux votes, the absentee ballots coming in late last week at the Division of Elections give LeDoux an easy win. Earlier absentees had her up by 87.
It’s a turnaround for the history books: On the first count after the polls closed, she was down by three votes.
LeDoux may have been stunned on election night by her opponent’s strength, but she already knew she had at least 100 absentee votes that had not been counted — those were the votes that a California man named Charlie Chang had acquired for her, and she’d paid him more than $10,000 for his services. These were her “insurance” votes, and now, it appears, many of them were fraudulent, perhaps criminally so.
It’s now been shown that even Chang voted in her district, although there’s little evidence he lives there. Chang is a Democrat operative in Fresno, California, where he serves on the Fresno County Democratic Party committee for Hmong voters.
It’s only one of dozens of irregularities, which include seven instances where dead people requested absentee ballots to vote in District 15.
In the counting of all the absentees, the Division of Elections set aside 26 for further review. There were just too many questions. And although the Department of Law will likely not pursue the matter, due to the Attorney General answering to Gov. Bill Walker first, this has become a federal criminal matter because there were federal candidates on the ballot in the U.S. House race.
That may have caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI, although neither has issued a statement.
It now appears that LeDoux will “win”, but will be busy for months answering the questions of investigators and reporters who will want to know what she knew and when she knew it, whom she directed to get votes and in what manner she directed them.
LeDoux is famous for keeping records on her district and every voter in it, and she has now told the media she has no idea who the voters are or why there are 17 voters registered with their listed address in one small trailer.
But her days of speaking to the media are coming to an end. LeDoux will clam up during an active investigation, and she’ll need to get a lawyer, too.
During an investigation, which would span California and Alaska, state and/or federal investigators would likely subpoena documents from her, Chang, and even her legislative staff who helped her during her campaign. Often legislative staff take official leave to help their bosses get re-elected.
That could sweep into an investigation of her long-time chief of staff, confidante and Juneau roommate Lisa Vaught, who may expect to have her phone records, emails and text messages to and from Rep. LeDoux and Chang scanned into the record. Vaught is handling LeDoux’s reporting to the Alaska Public Offices Commission of campaign income and expenditures.
It could also entangle Courtney Enright, her Rules Committee staff and Greg Smith, her legislative aide. All three of them have been paid by LeDoux to perform campaign work during the past few months.
The investigation could widen from there and sweep in close associates, such as lobbyists who advise her on a regular basis. It could extend as far as her donors.
And if there’s one thing about an investigation that includes the FBI it’s this: You don’t want to be telling agents anything that isn’t absolutely true.
The certification of the Primary Election is set for Tuesday, which is also the last day candidates can drop from the General Election ballot.
Election officials will likely be working through the weekend to prepare for Sept. 4, the day when the field for the General Election ballot will be set and the ballots can be printed.
But questions continue about how many illegitimate ballots were cast in the district.
After extensive reporting by news media, Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock wrote to the director of the Division of Elections Josie Bahnke and asked her to delay the certification of District 15 until an investigation is completed.
“They are grappling with pre-meditated corruption and have never faced that challenge before,” Babcock said. The fact that dead people requested absentee ballots is proof that the corruption was planned.
“Where is Byron Mallott?” Babcock said, referring to the silent lieutenant governor, whose job it is to oversee elections in Alaska.
Assuming the state moves ahead to certify the District 15 results on Tuesday, this will be the second flawed primary election in two years blessed by the Alaska Division of Elections. The first was the blatantly erroneous House District 40 election in 2016 that ended up ousting Rep. Ben Nageak in favor of the now disgraced Dean Westlake.
Coincidentally or not, both of these tainted races will have been decided in a manner that favors the political fortunes of the Walker-Mallott Administration.
THE GENERAL ELECTION
All of this bodes well for LeDoux’s Democratic opponent, Lyn D. Franks, who won 45 percent of the Democrat ballots cast and now proceeds to the General Election.
The Alaska Democratic Party will likely recalculate its plans for the district and see that seat as a “pick up” for Democrats, leaving LeDoux without any party at all, since the Alaska Republican Party has sanctioned her as unacceptable.
Raising money for LeDoux’s General Election effort will be tough under the current circumstances, with donors unlikely to want to write a check to someone who may ultimately face corruption charges.
The Democrats have pounced already. Franks wasted no time in putting out an invitation for a fundraiser for her campaign, in which she identified LeDoux as “vulnerable,” as shown below: