Mayor Bronson calls for IT director Dahl’s resignation after Assembly approves subpoena action in alleged election tampering case

Mayor Bronson calls for IT director Dahl’s resignation after Assembly approves subpoena action in alleged election tampering case
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 8:39 PM AKDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 8:41 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson confirmed in an interview Wednesday afternoon that he’s finally asking for the resignation of the municipality’s IT director Marc Dahl.

The request comes after the Anchorage Assembly elected to use legal action to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of an election complaint filed April 11. The resolution passed Tuesday night authorizes the Assembly Chair to subpoena documents and testimony, if warranted, and pursue litigation against those involved in the election tampering investigation.

The administration confirms that Dahl is currently still on unpaid leave.

A report by ombudsman Darrel Hess found evidence that Dahl, Director of Information Technology for the municipality, along with election observer and former Bronson chief of staff Sami Graham, conspired to lay the ground for a challenge to the April 2023 municipal election. The report also recommended the administration terminate the employment of Dahl.

Dahl and Graham were later invited to speak at an Assembly work session last Friday, but neither showed — prompting an item to be laid on the table at Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting that passed 9-3, effectively approving legal action for the investigation, if needed.

Bronson believes the Assembly’s move to authorize subpoenas is unnecessary.

“We’ve been cooperating with the ombudsman, we’ve been cooperating with the Assembly, we’ve been providing documents within the time frames in which we’re required,” Bronson said. “So it seems to be a lot about nothing, but they think it’s important so they’re going to do what they’re going to do and that’s that.”

Bronson said he’s asked for Marc Dahl’s resignation, but the administration is still working through that process.

“We’re not going to jump the gun,” Bronson said. “We have a process here and we’re not being rushed, we’re fine — again, I’m not sure why this is such a big thing.”

Bronson said he believes the Assembly is exaggerating the situation though — and he claims the ombudsman’s report said nothing illegal was done.

Assembly Vice Chair Meg Zaletel stated concerns for the alleged election tampering after Tuesday nights meeting.

“Time is of the essence,” Zaletel said. “Every year, we work to make code changes that strengthen our elections laws ahead of the next regular election. We have a duty to understand what happened in this case to inform that process, and time is ticking.”

Assembly Chair Chris Constant has concerns too.

“To work with a private citizen to present a fake policy and to demonstrate it in such a way that it appears that some violation occurred to overturn an election. Our duty to provide a free and fair election is above our duty to work well with the mayor,” Constant said.

Constant says their purpose in investigating isn’t to get specific people in legal trouble, but to understand how the abuse of power happened. He says he’s happy to see that Bronson is now calling for Dahl’s resignation, but said that anyone who had their hands on the complaint can expect an invitation to speak with the Assembly.

“The Assembly will be looking closely at everybody in the administration— or formerly in the administration — who had a part in this process so we can understand the facts and ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Constant said.

The Assembly is allowing time for the mayor’s office to complete some procedural work, but Constant anticipates “expedited action” in the coming weeks.