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Disclosing huge campaign contributions is not enough: A Commentary

By Sharman Haley,  posted on Anchorage Daily News - 02/21/2021 

Three months after the election, the hidden backstory comes out: GCI donated $100,000 to the national Republican State Leadership Committee, or RSLC, which gave $380,000 to the Alaska Council on Good Government, which launched late-in-the-campaign attack ads against Alaskan Independent and Democratic legislative candidates, and ads supporting five Republican candidates in Anchorage and Fairbanks. At the same time, another group, Defend Alaska, collected $150,000 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund based in Washington,D.C., and spent it in support of progressive candidates in Alaska. Nobody knows who funds the Sixteen Thirty
Fund: Politico reports it is funded by “massive anonymous donations, including one gift totaling $51.7 million.” We the Alaska voters want to know who is behind these election campaigns, who is trying to manipulate our vote, in real time.


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Alaska Cracks Down on Hidden Campaign Donations

                                 Published by Anchorage Daily News

                                         Sunday, February 21, 2021

Nathaniel Herz, Alaska Public Media

Two weeks before the November election, attack ads started showing up on Facebook targeting independent and Democratic state legislative candidates.

“Calvin Schrage is no independent,” said one of the ads, referring to the independent candidate for a House seat representing the Anchorage Hillside. “He is a typical liberal Democrat.”

The group paying for the ads, the Council on Good Government, received nearly all of the $380,000 it raised from a single group: the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee. But only after votes were counted did the RSLC have to reveal its own donors, who contributed a total of $8.5 million to deploy weeks before Election Day.

When the RSLC did file that report with the IRS, it showed just one large Alaska donor: GCI. The Anchorage telecommunications giant gave the RSLC $100,000 in early October — one day before the group reported transferring $75,000 to the Council on Good Government.




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Published in Anchorage Daily News, 01/29/2021

According to Bloomberg News, President Joe Biden’s winning campaign took in $145 million in so-called “dark money” donations, compared to only $28.4 million such donations spent on behalf of Donald Trump’s losing bid. Biden’s campaign ultimately raised $1.5 billion.

While citizens can donate as much as $2,800 to a candidate in a federal election, that donation is publicly reported on the candidate’s Federal Election Commission Reports. Wealthy individuals who want to donate more (in many cases, a whole lot more) can donate to political nonprofit groups that are under no obligation to release their sources of funding. Those nonprofits can spend to support their preferred candidates or funnel it to candidate’s Super PACs. That’s a whole lot of influence! Million-dollar donors get their phone calls answered and maybe get their favorite legislation passed. Those millions of dollars are able to drown out the voices of regular Americans.

Remember all the post cards from Dan Sullivan and Al Gross? Much of their funding came from outside interests seeking to influence our Alaska elections. The majority of Americans across the political spectrum are fed up with this system. Please call our Congress members and ask them to support campaign finance reform limiting dark money donations.

— Julie Olsen Board Member, Move To Amend Alaska Anchorage


Institutional corruption erodes representative government

Opinions Anchorage Daily News 01-16-21

Should Alaska enforce its current law limiting contributions to SuperPACs on a par with limits on individual contributions to candidates’ campaigns?

The Alaska Public Offices Commission stopped enforcing that part of the law in 2012 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, reasoning that since the political expenditures of SuperPACs are independent of candidate campaigns, they do not raise the prospect of corruption. Between 2008 and 2018, unregulated independent expenditures increased from 3% to 36% of campaign spending in our state, and two-thirds of this new money was from Outside donors. Including the ballot measures, independent expenditures for the 2020 election exceeded $23 million! This flood of big money into Alaska elections should alarm every Alaskan. We are sick and tired of Outside interests telling us how to run our affairs, and we are exhausted by the bombardment of negative ads and mailers. This is an issue for Alaskans across the political spectrum, conservatives and liberals alike. Big Union and Big Tech contributions are just as problematic as Big Oil or Koch Industries contributions.

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Resolution Passed by Anchorage Assembly

On Tuesday December 18th 2018, the Anchorage Assembly gave the local Move to Amend affiliate an early Christmas gift by unanimously passing a resolution that supports amending the U.S. Constitution to end constitutional rights for artificial persons, and to clarify that money is not free speech.

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The Attack on Alaska's Campaign Finance Law

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Alaska’s campaign finance law limiting out-of-state contributions to candidates violates the First Amendment. This was based on the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, narrowing the reasons states can limit campaign contributions to preventing “quid pro quo corruption.” This is too narrow.

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