Oh my goodness! The day we’ve all waited for is finally upon us as the APOC Staff Report in Dunbar for Mayor v. Bronson for Mayor (BFM) has been released. It’s all so “expeditious” while also being one big hot mess, and it’s not going to get covered in just one piece. Buckle up!
First up is the WPA Intel poll, which was arguably the most serious of the alleged violations outlined in the Dunbar campaign’s APOC complaint. The Dunbar campaign alleged way back in April that BFM received polling data from another person or persons and did not report the receipt as a contribution on its reports.
As part of its complaint to APOC, the Dunbar campaign provided a copy of a March 31, 2021, BFM Facebook post that showed information from a poll conducted by WPAI on February 25, 2021, and a Remington Research Group poll.
APOC’s staff—just like the Dunbar campaign noted in their complaint “could find no evidence that the WPAI poll or the Remington poll were publicly disseminated.”
Remember, the Dunbar campaign alleged that WPA Intel polling data might have been provided to BFM by another source which Dunbar’s campaign treasurer believed was the Recall Rivera ballot group.
The Chair of Recall Rivera was Russell Biggs, and its treasurer was Julie Brophy.
APOC wrote that according to BFM’s own APOC reports, the campaign made “no expenditure, incurred no debt, or received any nonmonetary contribution that would be consistent with receipt of the February 25, 2021, WPAI polling data in its March 31, 2021 post.”
Given the nature of the complaint, APOC went to Recall Rivera for information related to the WPA Intel poll.
Wait for it…
“Although staff made requests for the information, the Recall Rivera campaign has refused to provide the WPA Polling Information.” Staff Report, 21-01-CD, Dunbar for Mayor v. Bronson for Mayor, Page 16
As it turns out, refusing to provide the information requested by APOC does not necessarily end the investigation. APOC dismissed the WAP Intel complaint allegation without prejudice, recommending that APOC staff be able to “continue its investigation and file its own complaint if the facts warrant it.”
Emails included in the staff report between APOC Campaign Disclosure Coordinator Tom Lucas and Recall Rivera Chair Russell Biggs paint an interesting back and forth between the two.
Lucas asks Mr. Biggs for “workable links” in one particular exchange, but two of the four links go nowhere! It’s both odd and fascinating at the same time.
Lucas also wrote to Mr. Biggs that he did not see the results of (WPA Intel) polling in any documents sent to him.
Biggs responds to Lucas telling him that he cannot comply because the sample survey and data of the polling survey are the intellectual property of WPA Intel—telling Lucas that it would require a “valid subpoena” to obtain the information from him; otherwise, it would place him at personal substantial risk of civil damages for improper disclosure of WPA Intel’s confidential privileged information and polling techniques.
According to the email chain, Bigg’s opposition appears to involve a WPA Intel email confidentiality notice which reads:
“This e-mail message, including any attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, forwarding, or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.”
Mr. Biggs, in his email to Lucas, notes that as Recall Rivera is not the “target” of the APOC “investigation” that Lucas contact WPA Intel “for requests regarding the disclosure of their protected intellectual property, which they have an obligation to respond to.”
Biggs also tells Lucas that he would reach out to WPA Intel representatives with Lucas’s request that they provide the survey data directly to him which is nice—except Lucas doesn’t appear to be asking WPA Intel for the information in his email—but had asked Recall Rivera for it, to which Mr. Biggs responded that he couldn’t comply because of the WPA Intel “email confidentiality notice.”
Nothing in the staff report indicates that Lucas ever received WAP Intel polling results as he requested.
Either way, it doesn’t sound like this part of APOC’s investigation is wrapping up anytime soon as the Staff Report recommended that it continue its investigation into the details of the mysterious WPA Intel poll.
Pure speculation here, but it seems to me that since the WPA Intel poll says right on it that it was paid for by Bronson for Mayor, the campaign should know where the poll came from.
Bronson’s campaign either commissioned and paid for the WPA Intel poll and didn’t report it, in which case they should produce that documentation, or they should tell APOC where they got it from. It really does appear to be a straightforward matter that could be easily settled.
As to the legal weight of email confidentiality notices, here’s some further reading if you’re interested. If they’re as strong as Recall Rivera Chair Biggs told Mr. Lucas they are, I’m sticking them to everything!
Also worth noting is that under AS 15.13.045, APOC is empowered to conduct investigations, and yes, that includes the power to issue subpoenas.