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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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August 12, 2008 8:06 AM

Local firm tied to Alaska scandal

Posted by David Postman

Madison Communications, a Republican political consulting firm in Kirkland, was named today by the Anchorage Daily News as a possible an unnamed co-conspirator in the latest charges in Alaska’s growing political scandal.

The Daily News suggests strongly that says the firm, headed by well-known consultant Brett Bader, is the “Consultant A” mentioned in the charges, and guilty plea, by private prison executive Bill Weimar. Weimar pleaded guilty yesterday to two federal felonies.

(I originally said the Daily News said Madison was the firm in question. But the paper builds a case that it was the firm, but stops short of saying that outright.)

Richard Mauer wrote in the ADN:

He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won.

The candidate, Mauer says, appears to be former Alaska state Sen. Jerry Ward, a Republican. In court yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini said the consultant was from Seattle.

Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash.

That same year -- and this is nothing more than conincidence -- the firm was paid nearly $43,000 for work on Republican Rob McKenna’s successful campaign for attorney general. This year Madison has been paid $85 $276 by McKenna’s campaign for design services.

Mauer and I were unable to reach Bader.

Bader has long been a fixture of Republican politics in Washington. He was John Carlson’s consultant in the talk show host’s unsuccessful run for governor in 2000. He has done extensive work for the state Republican Party.

In 2006 the firm was paid by Luke Esser’s unsuccessful re-election campaign for the state Senate. Esser is now chairman of the Republican Party, and Madison has continued doing work for the party. Other clients include King County Councilwoman Jane Hague, unsuccessful county executive candidate David Irons Jr., state legislators Pam Roach and Toby Nixon and the “Honest Elections Project,” the group that pushed for an elected King County auditor.

The allegations in the charges are that the consultant took money from Weimar to pay for the candidate’s campaign activities. The charging document says:

Beginning in approximately spring 2004, and continuing thereafter up to and including approximately August 25, 2004, in the District of Alaska, and elsewhere, WILLIAM WEIMAR, CANDIDATE A, CONSULTANT A, and others known and unknown, did knowingly and unlawfully conspire, confederate, and agree together to deprive the public of the honest services that CANDIDATE A would provide as an Alaska State Legislator, through a scheme to disguise WEIMAR's direct payment to CONSULTANT A of approximately $20,000.00 in expenses for CANDIDATE A's campaign for the Legislature, without reporting that payment as required by applicable Alaska law and regulations and without routing it for payment through CANDIDATE A's campaign, and through the foreseeable use of the mails, interstate couriers or interstate wire communications, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341, 1343, and 1346.

In the summer of 2004, according to the indictment, Weimar called the consultant to tell him he would pay off $20,000 of the candidate’s unpaid expenses.

On or about August 23, 2004, WEIMAR immediately after the telephone call with CONSULTANT A, called CANDIDATE A and told CANDIDATE A that he would not be receiving any further bills from CONSULTANT A.

UPDATE: I just talked to McKenna. He said he had heard nothing about Madison's work in Alaska or the firm's name coming up in connection with the political scandal there. He said Madison was paid in his 2004 campaign for design services done by Jeff Davis and for postage for campaign mailers. McKenna said he had no plans to use the firm again this year because he was not doing the same sort of mail efforts. The campaign did use Davis this year to design a return envelope.

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