Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-07-20 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-07-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 1886
SB 103                                                                                            
Message dated and received July 11, 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. 103                                          
                  "An Act relating to election campaigns and                                       
           legislative ethics."                                                                     

2001-07-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 1887
Alaska led the nation in reforming its campaign finance laws when the                               
legislature adopted amendments in 1996 that significantly curbed the                                
effect of big money donors. Strongly supported by the public, the                                   
reforms capped the amounts of contributions to candidates and                                       
political parties and placed strict controls on corporate and union                                 
donations. Now, just when the rest of the nation appears to be                                      
following in Alaska's lead, the legislature has taken a sharp U-turn by                             
passing a measure that reverses some provisions and certainly the                                   
spirit of the 1996 reforms.                                                                         
The measure opens loopholes in the campaign finance laws that would                                 
allow additional opportunities for special interests to influence                                   
candidates and elections. It allows professionals, such as lawyers,                                 
media advisors, campaign managers, and computer programmers, to                                     
contribute unlimited personal labor to campaigns. Since much of                                     
campaign spending is for professional services, this provision removes                              
a large category of campaign activity from the contribution limits and,                             
perhaps even more importantly, from the reporting requirements.                                     
Because the candidates and political parties will not have to report                                
donated professional services, the donations will be insulated from                                 
public scrutiny.                                                                                    
The measure also legalizes "soft money" in Alaska by allowing                                       
individuals to make unlimited contributions to political parties so long                            
as the contribution is earmarked for certain party expenses not tied to a                           
specific candidate's campaign. This provision was added to the bill late                            
in the legislative process apparently in response to a recent federal                               
district court decision striking the $5000 limit on contributions to                                
political parties for certain uses as unconstitutional. This bill would                             
lock in the court's ruling even if the court's decision were reversed on                            
appeal. The timing of this change - it was rushed through both houses                               
late in the session - prevented any real opportunity for the public to be                           
heard on the subject.                                                                               
Without any evidence that Alaskans have changed their views on the                                  
subject of campaign reform, the legislature has passed provisions that                              
would allow certain donations to the political parties and campaigns                                
without limits and, in the case of professional services, would shield                              
the donations from public view. By allowing soft money and unlimited                                
donations of professional services, the legislature has turned its back                             
on campaign finance reform.                                                                         

2001-07-20                     Senate Journal                      Page 1888
I stand together with Alaskans who have made it clear they want                                     
strong controls on the amount of money donated in political                                         
campaigns and full disclosure of campaign funding. I cannot support                                 
this measure's erosion of those principles, and I must veto this bill.                              
       Tony Knowles