Anchorage City Hall on Dec. 8, 2020 (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Several Anchorage municipal employees are accusing Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration of monitoring who’s visiting the city’s ombudsman’s office. That’s according to a memo sent Thursday from Ombudsman Darrel Hess to the mayor and Anchorage Assembly chair.

In the one-page memo, Hess wrote that multiple employees have contacted his office, alleging that, “an executive with the Municipality had stated that the Mayor’s office has been downloading copies of City Hall surveillance videos to see who is accessing the Ombudsman’s office and interacting with Assembly members.”

The ombudsman is an independent office charged with investigating actions made by the Municipality and the Anchorage School District. Both the Assembly and the ombudsman’s offices are on the first floor of City Hall. 

The allegations come a week after former Municipal Manager Amy Demboski, who was fired by Bronson in December, alleged numerous unethical and unlawful actions by Bronson in a letter from her attorney sent to city leaders. Demboski said she had also filed complaints with the ombudsman’s office about some of her concerns.

Hess’s memo states that several employees expressed fear that access to the ombudsman’s office was being watched. They also claim that the alleged statement from the unnamed city executive about downloading surveillance videos was, “an attempt to intimidate them to not contact the Ombudsman’s Office,” according to the memo. 

Bronson spokesman Corey Allen Young said the mayor’s office is looking into the concerns laid out in the memo. 

“Mayor Bronson takes these allegations very seriously,” Young wrote in a statement. “The administration is investigating these allegations.”

Hess described the complaints as, “serious, chilling allegations — even if no videos have been pulled.” 

“Given the gravity of the accusations, and based on the statements of multiple Municipal employees, I reasonably believe that there may have been a breach of duty, misconduct, or illegal activity by a Municipal employee,” he wrote. 

Hess said he felt obligated to refer the matter to the municipal prosecutor’s office to determine if any laws have been violated.

Assembly members are set to meet in executive session Thursday and Friday to discuss their legal options for addressing the allegations made by Demboski.

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2023-01-19 23:16:12
Alaska Public Media

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