Rep. Lance Pruitt violated campaign finance laws, commission staff finds

Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, talks to reporters at a House Republican Minority press availability in his office at the Capitol in Juneau in 2018. On Tuesday, an Alaska Public Offices Commission staff report found Pruitt’s 2016 and 2018 campaigns violated state campaign finance laws. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Rep. Lance Pruitt violated Alaska’s campaign finance laws and should pay a penalty. That’s according to staff for the state’s elections watchdog agency, the Alaska Public Offices Commission.  

Commission staff issued a report on Tuesday. They found that Pruitt’s campaigns failed to accurately report expenses, both in 2016 and 2018.

The five-member commission will decide whether it agrees with those findings and what, if any, penalty Pruitt will have to pay. 

According to the report:

  • the campaigns also failed to provide information detailing media advertising placement and consulting services it received;
  • Pruitt’s 2016 campaign failed to reimburse him for personal funds within the legally required time period, or to report the use of his personal funds as contributions; and
  • Pruitt’s 2018 campaign failed to return two contributions from a corporation, which are illegal under state law.

The maximum fine for the violations is $1,022,250. The commission staff said that amount would be excessive and recommended it be reduced by 99%. Pruitt would still have to pay $10,222. 

The report also recommended that the commission dismiss an allegation that Pruitt failed to obtain required information about the clients of his wife, Mary Ann Pruitt. She is a media consultant who has worked as Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s communication director. The staff said Lance Pruitt made a good-faith effort to get that information. 

The investigation was the result of a complaint filed in October by Paula DeLaiarro, a campaign finance expert for Ship Creek Group, a consulting business.

Pruitt is an Anchorage Republican. He recently lost his legislative seat to Democrat Liz Snyder. A lawsuit is challenging the election result.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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