Rep. Jennie Armstrong, whose candidacy was once legal challenged because she had barely arrived in the state from Louisiana before filing as a candidate for office, now wants donors to help her retire her legal bills for the escapade.
She says she still owes her lawyer Scott Kendall $45,000 and wants Alaskans to help her retire the debt by its due date, which is Aug. 31.
Armstrong, however, mentioned no such debt on her Public Official Financial Disclosure, which she filed in March. The POFD is something all public officials must complete so the public understands their conflicts of interest.
She also did not disclose this major debt in her campaign Alaska Public Offices Commission reports.
And so the debt to Kendall has not been disclosed personally or by her campaign.
What makes it even more interesting is that Kendall, who defended Armstrong successfully in court so that she could proceed as a legislative candidate, is not only the architect of Ballot Measure 2 (open primaries and ranked-choice general elections), but he is an aggressive political operative who gets involved in many election controversies. He has two current complaints filed against conservative groups — Preserve Democracy and Alaskans for Honest Elections.
The argument could be made that such a large debt to a political operative is something that should have been disclosed to the public by Armstrong.
But it wasn’t disclosed. Kendall has for the past year, since helping Armstrong win her case, more or less owned Armstrong with a five-figure debt that she is only now revealing.
Armstrong has also already transferred over $10,000 into a future campaign account and $9,000 of campaign money into her legal defense fund.
Thus, it’s apparent she incurred at up to an $80,000 debt to Kendall to defend her right to be a candidate last year, against all odds, since she had scant evidence that she had lived in the state long enough.
Jay McDonald, a citizen activist, has filed a complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission about the apparent problem that Armstrong has created for herself.
Armstrong, using her campaign to pay off a non-campaign debt, may also have a problem with the Legislative Ethics Committee. That is a closed process inside the Legislature.
The nondisclosure appears to be on several levels, and the fine could be as much as $500 a day, which could amount to well over $150,000.
Here’s the complaint filed with APOC: