The ongoing legal harassment of former U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka by attorney Scott Kendall and the dark-money group Alaskans for Better Elections went against Kendall and ABE this week.
The Alaska Public Offices Commission ruled in favor of Tshibaka, after Alaskans for Better Elections filed specious claims against her and the group she formed to fight ranked-choice voting, Preserve Democracy, earlier this year.
The staff of the commission had recommended a fine of more than $23,000, because Tshibaka had stated that elections should be “easy to understand and accessible to everyone.”
Kendall and Alaskans for Better Elections (the group that brought ranked-choice voting to Alaska) said her speech was governed by APOC regulations she had violated.
Tshibaka appealed the staff recommendation to the commission itself, arguing that she has the constitutional right to say that she opposes ranked choice voting and she spoke against the system during events not within the jurisdiction of Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Tshibaka also pointed out that APOC’s attorneys argued in favor of her same position before the Alaska Supreme Court last fall, saying that it only has the right to regulate expenditures that exhort Alaskans to vote for or against ballot measures.
Since the Preserve Democracy website said nothing to Alaskans about how to vote and there is no matter pending on a ballot about ranked-choice voting, Tshibaka argued APOC trying to regulate her speech was a violation of her First Amendment constitutional rights.
The commissioners agreed with Tshibaka and completely dismissed Kendall and Alaskans for Better Elections’ frivolous allegations. The commission also found no evidence Tshibaka ever operated as a lobbyist, another claim made by Kendall. The commission further determined that Tshibaka and Preserve Democracy ran a non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaign that did not trigger APOC reporting requirements.
“Today is a victory for the Constitution,” Tshibaka said in a statement. “It is the responsibility of the American People to protect Free Speech from being trampled by government. In this case, APOC’s staff were spurred along by Ranked-Choice Voting advocates to trample on the Free Speech protections of the Constitution. But Preserve Democracy and I took a stand for Free Speech by challenging this government overreach. Fortunately, the APOC Commissioners saw through ABE’s disinformation, unconstitutional attacks, and frivolous allegations to discern the truth and protect all of our constitutional rights.”
Tshibaka, a Republican, ran against Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2022. With the open primary and ranked-choice voting system enacted by voters at the behest of Alaskans for Better Elections, Murkowski was able to avoid and ignore Republican voters in the primary, winning her chance to advance to the general election ballot by depending on loyal Democrats. Kendall, a political operative who is also an activist lawyer, is a longtime supporter of Murkowski.
After the election, Tshibaka launched Preserve Democracy, a platform she uses to educate Americans in Alaska and other states about the realities of ranked-choice voting and how it is being used by Democrats to give their candidates an advantage. More about Preserve Democracy at this link.