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RBG Bush Planes, LLC v. Alaska Pub. Offices Comm'n

Supreme Court of Alaska

November 25, 2015

RBG BUSH PLANES, LLC, Appellant,
v.
ALASKA PUBLIC OFFICES COMMISSION, Appellee

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Catherine M. Easter, Judge. Superior Court No. 3AN-11-13052 CI.

Timothy A. McKeever and Scott M. Kendall, Holmes Weddle & Barcott, PC, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Janell M. Hafner, Assistant Attorney General, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before: Winfree, Stowers, and Bolger, Justices. [Fabe, Chief Justice, and Maassen, Justice, not participating.].

OPINION

Page 887

STOWERS, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

Alaska law forbids corporations from making direct contributions to candidates for public office.[1] And in 2010 a corporation that provided a service to a candidate for less than a " commercially reasonable rate" or the " normal charge . . . in the market" was deemed to have made a contribution to the candidate equal to the difference between the commercially reasonable rate and the amount charged.[2]

In September 2010 RBG Bush Planes, LLC (Bush Planes) allowed two candidates for the Lake and Peninsula Borough Assembly to travel on a series of pre-existing flights throughout the borough. Bush Planes charged the candidates a fraction of the fuel

Page 888

costs associated with those flights. The Alaska Public Offices Commission (Commission) investigated these charges, determined that Bush Planes' fractional fuel-cost methodology did not represent a commercially reasonable rate, and assessed a $25,500 fine against Bush Planes for making illegal corporate contributions. Bush Planes appealed to the superior court, which affirmed the Commission.

Bush Planes again appeals, arguing (1) that the Commission erred when it found Bush Planes had violated Alaska law and (2) that the fine the Commission imposed was unconstitutionally excessive. Bush Planes also appeals the superior court's denial of Bush Planes' motion to supplement the record with allegedly recently discovered evidence and related briefing suggesting Commission bias against Bush Planes. We affirm the superior court's decisions for the reasons discussed below.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS


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