According to the Alaska Democratic Party, a citizen has filed a Federal Communications Commission complaint against KFQD-AM talk show host Dave Stieren. The complaint is related to a contract that Stieren got from GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, whose campaign paid Stieren’s communication firm $6,697 for “media training” and “coaching.”
The complaint says that Stieren gave Sullivan more airtime than Sullivan’s Republican primary opponents, which would potentially violate the FCC’s equal time provision for federal candidates. Mike Wenstrup, chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, said that this is an example of Sullivan “using his Outside money in an attempt to buy support.”
According to the FCC, complaints aren’t generally public until they’re resolved. Stieren denies the charge.
Generally speaking, each candidate running for federal office must receive the offer of equal access to television and radio. It can be hazy, however, when it comes to news programs and opinion-focused talk and television shows.
In the past, the FCC has granted “equal time” exceptions to such diverse shows as “The Phil Donahue Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Politically Incorrect,” “The Howard Stern Show” and “The Jerry Springer Show.”
I spoke with Stieren last night about the complaint. He denies the claim of favoritism. He said that the contract, which lasted about five weeks and started in February, clearly stated that he wasn’t going to focus on the race while the contract was active. That didn’t mean, however, that he would completely avoid the topic of the Senate.
He and his business partner Mary Ann Pruitt, who is the state House Majority Leader Rep. Lance Pruitt’s wife, met with the Sullivan campaign about 5 times. He disclosed all of the information required to Morris Communications, which owns KFQD.
Stieren said it was “adorable,” that the Democrats were so concerned about the attention given to GOP primary candidates Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell.
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com
This post was updated to contain information I got from talking to the FCC.