A series of complaints against Rep. Andy Josephson is a shot across the bow of the longtime Anchorage Democrat standard-bearer for failing to truthfully file his campaign finance documents and for his lack of transparency with the public agency watchdog, the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Josephson has been accused by citizen activist Jay McDonald of multiple campaign finance violations, some of which mirror a previous cases involving Republican then-Rep. Lance Pruitt, also of Anchorage. For one offenses listed for Pruitt that is almost identical to the offense allegedly committed by Josephson, Pruitt was fined by APOC over $19,000. But Josephson’s improperly filed documents could draw a fine much higher, if APOC treats Republicans and Democrats fairly, because the amounts involved in Josephson’s alleged misdeeds are much higher than in the Pruitt complaint.
The complaint filed earlier this month alleges that Josephson, a seasoned politician with numerous election campaigns under his belt, has inconsistently reported campaign expenditures and debts, leading to questions about the transparency and legality of his campaign finance practices. Some of the key accusations are:
- Unclear Expenditures to Ship Creek Group: Josephson’s campaign filings reportedly show expenditures totaling $74,635.14 to Ship Creek Group, labeled vaguely as “Paid communications”. This lack of specificity in reporting raises concerns about the nature of these payments and is what Pruitt was fined for in 2020, when Democrats at the Ship Creek Group filed their complaint against him for being not specific enough in 2016 and 2018 campaigns.
- Inconsistent Reporting of Debts: The complaint highlights a particular instance where Josephson reported a $10,000 debt to Ship Creek Group without specifying its purpose. This debt was reportedly never mentioned again in subsequent filings, questioning the resolution of this liability.
- Discrepancies with Democratic Party Debt: Josephson’s reports show inconsistencies in the amount of debt owed to the Alaska Democratic Party. Notably, a reduction of $500 in the reported debt appears without explanation, and a $625 check payment to the party was allegedly not disclosed.
- Failure to Report Campaign Debts Timely: Josephson is accused of not disclosing two mailer debts in the appropriate reporting period, a requirement as per the state statute.
- Non-Disclosure of Debts to Vendors and Staff: In his year-end report, Josephson claimed a final campaign debt of $0. However, the same report allegedly failed to account for unpaid amounts to two vendors and two staff members, totaling at least $1,729.50. On the report, Josephson says the checks to employees were never cashed, which means he still owes the debt to them. Another check to Amber Lee Strategies is reported as never cashed; this is a personal debt that Josephson has to report.
- Inadequate Disclosure of Expenditures to Ship Creek Group: The nature of several large payments made to Ship Creek Group remains murky, with Josephson listing these as “paid advertising” or for “paid communications” without further details, a violation.
Josephson has been involved in at least five state office elections, demonstrating experience with APOC’s reporting requirements. The complaint suggests that his reporting irregularities may have provided him with an unfair campaign advantage over his opponents.
APOC staff has accepted the complaint as having been filed correctly by McDonald, and Josephson has been notified of the complaint. APOC staff will now weigh the merits of the case and refer staff recommendations to the commission.
The Alaska Democratic Party, in one of its ad campaigns, uses Rep. Josephson as an example of someone who exemplifies one of the values of the Alaska Democrats, specifically the value of “Truth.”
Yet he has claimed in past campaigns that Anchorage Police and Fire Departments endorsed him, something that would be illegal for the departments to do.