Legislature fails to pass limits: Now what?

The Alaska state legislature failed to pass any bills this session to replace the campaign finance laws that were struck down by a federal court recently. So now, there are no limits to how much a person can donate to one or more candidates running for office. Attorney Robin Brena, in a recent article regarding this issue, boasted that he had just donated $25,000 to one candidate. He was the attorney who brought the lawsuit against the state claiming its laws were unconstitutional, and he won.

It is doubtful that the bulk of Alaskans have that kind of money to donate to candidates for elected positions. Nor should they, receiving this level of money from a donor increases the risk of corruption and

reduces the sense for most Alaskans that they can have any say in the political process. During the discussions in the recent legislature, some legislators argued that it is not fair to limit donations to support a candidate while independent expenditure groups (i.e. PACS or Political Action Committees) have no limits. They expressed outrage at the ability of these groups to raise and donate huge amounts of money. Yet, few if any have expressed willingness to change that.

The legislature could pass a resolution calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to overrule the court on this matter. Yet few of our legislators supported an effort to do this during the previous session. Apparently, they believe two wrongs, allowing unlimited donations to campaigns and to independent expenditure groups, make a right.

So now it is up to our Congressional delegation to stand up for fairness in campaigns. Will Senators Murkowski, Sullivan or any of the candidates running against Murkowski and for Don Young’s seat in the House, stand up for campaign limits that are supported by most Alaskans? There are several bills in Congress today addressing this issue. Let us hold them accountable to do the will of the people.

At every campaign rally, debate or other opportunity, we need to be asking Congressional candidates: will they do the will of the people and vote for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to restore the right of the people to pass laws regulating money in political campaigns?

Beverly Churchill is a member of Alaska Move to Amend, whose mission includes educating Alaskans on constitutional issues regarding personhood and money as a form of free speech.