US Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka cited for commercial fishing without crewmember license

Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka speaking during a press conference at the Atwood Building in Anchorage. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka has been cited for commercial fishing without a crewmember license, according to Alaska Wildlife Troopers.

Troopers say the offense stems from a video the candidate posted to social media in July. Tshibaka is shown removing fish from a set net on the Kenai Peninsula as jaunty marching-band-style music plays in the background.

Public records obtained by the Anchorage Daily News show Tshibaka did not have a crewmember license at the time.

Tshibaka’s campaign manager declined an interview on Friday. He sent a lengthy statement from Tshibaka saying the candidate would pay the fine. Tshibaka says she purchased the commercial fishing outing at an auction and was a guest, not a crewmember. She says the fish she was shown handling were never sold.

Tshibaka went on to say in the statement that the prosecution was politically motivated.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers said in an online bulletin Friday that they started looking into the video in July. The citation comes after what the department describes as a thorough investigation by troopers and the state’s Office of Special Prosecution. Troopers said Tshibaka faces a $270 fine that she can either pay or challenge in court.

The trooper bulletin was posted almost two hours after Alaska courts closed for the weekend. And specifics of the charges were not listed on the state’s online courts database.

Tshibaka, a Republican, is a former commissioner of the Department of Administration. She resigned this year to challenge U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in next year’s election.

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