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Pebble Partnership copper gold molybdenum mine project Alaska Northern Dynasty NAK NDM

By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

Finding rekindles Ballot Measure 4 fires

APOC identifies more than 20 campaign violations by 'Gillam Group;' member accuses initiative opponents of similar improprieties

 

Last updated 6/28/2009 at Noon



The opposing sides of Ballot Measure 4, the failed ballot initiative that opponents said targeted development of a mine at the huge Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum deposit in Southwest Alaska, have moved their ongoing battle from the court of public opinion into a court of law.

A June 4 report, based on an investigation conducted by staff of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, recommended the anti-Pebble syndicate be levied the maximum civil penalties for multiple violations of Alaska campaign law. The APOC staff also recommended that the case be turned over to the Alaska Attorney General for a criminal investigation.

APOC's investigation followed a complaint filed by the Pebble Partnership and Resource Development Council for Alaska in March that charged the Renewable Resources Coalition, Alaskans for Clean Water, Americans for Job Security and McKinley Capital Management CEO Bob Gillam with conspiring to hide about $2 million in contributions by Gillam to support the anti-mining citizens' initiative that appeared on Alaska's 2008 primary ballot.

Art Hackney, one of the key individuals investigated by APOC, has countered with allegations that the mining interests hid $3.5 million in expenditures and over $1.3 million in contributions during the campaign directed at convincing Alaskans to vote down the initiative.

APOC probe affirms violations

In the course of its investigation into the group promoting Ballot Measure 4, APOC confirmed 17 of the 18 campaign law violations alleged in the Pebble complaint and turned up several additional campaign law violations by the anti-Pebble faction.

"APOC staff has conducted as thorough an investigation as time allowed, and concludes that the majority of alleged violations are supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Additionally, in the course of the investigation, APOC staff found several other violations," the commission wrote.

APOC has turned the Pebble case over to the Alaska Department of Administration, which will assign an administrative law judge to assist the commission in handling hearings.

Gillam Group

The charges brought to light by the APOC investigation center on four key players of the "Vote Yes on 4" campaign - Richard Jameson, Michael Dubke, Bob Gillam and Hackney - which the APOC staff dubbed "the Gillam Group."

Hackney, an Anchorage-based political consultant, was one of the sponsors of Ballot Measure 4. His firm, Hackney & Hackney Inc., reportedly earned between 10 percent and 15 percent of money spent on the "Alaskans for Clean Water" campaign for handling most of the advertising aimed at convincing Alaska voters to approve the measure.

Hackney is also a former board member of "Americans for Job Security," a Virginia-based group that, according to the APOC Web site, contributed $1.6 million to the "Vote yes on 4" campaign. The APOC report says Dubke was president of the organization from 1998 through March 2008.

Jameson is president of Renewable Resources Coalition, an anti-Pebble group that Hackney helped to organize.

Gillam, who owns a wilderness home about 15 miles away from the proposed Pebble mine site, has spent several million dollars to prevent the development of Pebble, including US$2.6 million, or 89 percent, of the US$2.9 million raised to promote Ballot Measure 4.

"Gillam … was the main proponent of the effort and was by far its largest financial backer. Day-to-day execution of the effort was left to Hackney, who directed the expenditure of millions of dollars in print and broadcast advertisements in favor of Ballot Measure 4.

Dubke was a media and political consultant who worked on advertising, messaging, and the get-out-the-vote effort for the ballot initiative. Dubke also was instrumental in attempting to veil the fact that the entire effort was being funded by Gillam.

"Jameson, as president of the (Renewable Resources) coalition, placed his organization largely at the service of the ballot campaign working in conjunction with the others. Together, these four individuals operated as a de facto "group" organized to influence the outcome of an election," APOC staffers wrote.

Hackney said the APOC report's claim that Gillam recruited the other members of the group is absurd.

"The fact of the matter is I set up Renewable Resources Coalition," he told Mining News. "I didn't even know who Bob Gillam was."

Following the money

The largest financial impropriety alleged in the Pebble complaint is that the Gillam Group attempted to hide $1.6 million of Gillam's contributions to the pro-Ballot Measure 4 campaign by channeling the money through Americans for Job Security.

The Ballot Measure 4 proponents replied that Gillam simply paid membership dues to the soft money group, and the money manager "had no legal right to direct where these funds ultimately went."

The APOC report characterized Americans for Job Security as "nothing more than a sham entity created for the sole purpose of allowing people like Gillam to evade campaign disclosure laws."

The majority of Gillam's contributions to the campaign were channeled through the group and into Alaskans for Clean Water, the organization registered with APOC to promote passage of Ballot Measure 4.

According to the APOC report, the funneled contributions "were either illegal anonymous contributions, illegal contributions in the name of another, or both."

Hackney said the report "has no foundation."

APOC's staff said there was no limit to the amount of money Gillam was allowed to throw into the campaign, but the voters had the right to know where the money came from.

APOC Executive Director Holly Hill said the commission has turned the Pebble case over to the Alaska Department of Administration.

Chief Administrative Law Judge Terry Thurbon told Mining News that hearings originally scheduled for June 15 - 17 have been postponed due to "the addition of some new complaints that are being consolidated in this matter."

Hackney fires back

Hackney countered the accusations made in the Pebble complaint and the APOC staff report by alleging campaign improprieties by Ballot Measure 4's opposition.

A complaint filed June 15 by the initiative's sponsor claims that Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown, the Council of Alaska Producers, and NANA Regional Corp. conspired to hide $3.5 million in expenditures and more than $1.3 million in contributions spent in opposition to the anti-mining measure.

The charges made by Hackney include:

Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown, the organization that ran the opposition campaign, concealed more than $1.3 million in contributions and more than $2.2 million in spending until after the election.

The Producers' Council, an organization representing mining companies working in Alaska, failed to properly report more than $6.3 million in contributions to Alaskans Against the Mining Shutdown.

The council also failed to properly report nearly $500,000 in expenditures.

NANA Regional Native Corp. failed to properly report more than $400,000 in spending.

Hackney claimed these organizations hid the contributions and expenditures until after the election was decided.

 

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