June 11, 2012 •
Alaska Advisory Opinion Removes Cap for Independent Expenditure Group
The Alaska Public Offices Commission has issued an opinion allowing a new independent group, Alaska Deserves Better (ADB), to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in this year’s elections. Although the commission’s director said the advisory opinion is specific to ADB and the way it plans to operate, the decision seems to be relevant for other independent committees.
Under current state law, groups such as ADB may receive, each year, contributions of no more than $500 from an individual and $1,000 from a different group. Additionally, groups may not receive contributions from an individual who is not a resident of the state, or from a foreign national.
With the exception of the foreign national restriction, the opinion acknowledges laws prohibiting independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions are likely unconstitutional in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. As a result, ADB, an independent expenditure group, can obtain contributions in unlimited amounts, with no restriction on the amounts or sources.
The commission acknowledges that without a ruling from a court or a change in legislation, there will not be clarity in the state’s campaign contribution law.
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