Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2002-06-21 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2002-06-21                     Senate Journal                      Page 3750
SB 363                                                                                            
Message dated and received June 19, stating:                                                        
Dear President Halford:                                                                             
Under the authority of art. II, sec. 15, of the Alaska Constitution, I                              
have vetoed the following bill:                                                                     
         CONFERENCE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 363                                                      
         "An Act relating to communications and elections, to                                       
         reporting of contributions and expenditures, and to                                        
         campaign misconduct in the second degree; relating                                         
         to disclosure by individuals of contributions to                                           
         candidates; and providing for an effective date."                                          

2002-06-21                     Senate Journal                      Page 3751
This legislation purporting to fine tune Alaska's campaign finance law                              
was introduced on April 18, barely a month before the end of the                                    
regular 121-day legislative session. While it makes some modest                                     
worthwhile improvements, overall the bill falls far short of providing                              
Alaskans the progressive regulation of campaign finance they desire.                                
The most important provision of the bill is designed to give the                                    
appearance of regulating so-called "soft money." These difficult-to-                                
trace and rarely disclosed funds are contributed by special interests                               
below the radar of conventional campaign finance laws. Soft money                                   
has had an insidious impact on political campaigns across our country.                              
Front groups, who apparently are accountable to no one, finance and                                 
produce some of the most vicious television advertisements ever                                     
witnessed. Fortunately, at least until this year, Alaska has been largely                           
immune from such soft money negative campaigns.                                                     
In the spirit of the national McCain-Feingold campaign reform law                                   
and our own 1996 campaign finance act measure, Senate Bill 363                                      
could have constituted genuine political reform. Instead, it was                                    
watered down in the last two days of the legislative session to dupe the                            
public into believing it reduces soft money advertising in Alaska                                   
In early versions, this measure adopted strict language from a 1987                                 
Ninth Circuit Court decision (Federal Election Commission v.                                        
Furgatch, 807 F.2d 857) which said that when read as a whole,                                       
advertisements urging a vote for or against a particular candidate were                             
subject to regulation. That language was diluted on the second to last                              
day of the regular session in the House Rules Committee to require                                  
that ads must "explicitly advocate election or defeat of a candidate" to                            
be subject to regulation.                                                                           
Within days after this weakened and overly permissive bill passed the                               
Legislature, an out-of-state group generously funded with                                           
unaccounted-for money, "Americans for Job Security," launched an                                    
onslaught of negative television advertising across Alaska that                                     
conveniently would not be subject to regulation under Senate Bill 363.                              
By targeting the Knowles-Ulmer Administration, these ads are clearly                                
designed to benefit one gubernatorial candidate over another.                                       

2002-06-21                     Senate Journal                      Page 3752
We Alaskans pride ourselves on our independence, preferring our way                                 
instead of blindly following outside practices. I believe most Alaskans                             
are offended by the sleazy, gutless and inaccurate soft money ads now                               
blanketing our airwaves. The Twenty-Second Alaska Legislature had                                   
an opportunity to set high standards for Alaska political campaigns. It                             
failed. By vetoing this bill, I am giving a future Legislature the                                  
opportunity to do it right.                                                                         
Tony Knowles