A political consultant has died while his work was being scrutinized amid allegations of voter fraud in a close Anchorage state House race, according to the state representative who hired him.
Charlie Chang worked with Anchorage Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, whose district includes parts of the Muldoon neighborhood and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Chang, who lives in California, helped LeDoux recruit Hmong voters, and LeDoux’s opponents tied him to what they described as irregular absentee voting patterns.
LeDoux, in a brief phone interview Wednesday, said Chang died Tuesday from a “major stroke.”
“He was on life support for a couple of days and then he passed away,” she said. “That’s all I know and it’s sad, and I feel pretty devastated by it.”
Chang had worked with LeDoux periodically for a decade, and she said they’d become friends. His death was first reported by Anchorage TV station KTUU.
LeDoux caucuses with Democrats in the House’s majority coalition, and the Alaska Republican Party has been trying to unseat her. She trailed her GOP primary opponent, Aaron Weaver, by three votes after the first round of counting election night, last month.
A subsequent count of absentee ballots gave LeDoux a 117-vote win. But state elections officials also said they found evidence of voter fraud among the absentee ballots, and they sent their findings to prosecutors for review.
Elections officials said they received absentee applications in the names of seven dead people. Those ballots were not mailed out, but officials also identified 26 suspicious ballots that were returned.
All 26 of those votes went to LeDoux.
The state hasn’t released details about the voters who sent in those suspicious ballots.
But LeDoux’s Republican opponents point to more than two dozen people with Hmong last names who registered to vote from two different Muldoon mobile homes. And they note that LeDoux paid Chang more than $10,000 to recruit Hmong voters.
LeDoux said she told Chang to be careful, and added that she has no reason to believe he broke any laws.
State prosecutors have declined to comment about a possible voter fraud investigation. They did not immediately respond to questions Wednesday about how their work could be affected by Chang’s death.
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