Alaska Anti Corruption Act, Ballot Measure 1 (August 2010)

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The Alaska Anti-Corruption Act, also known as Ballot Measure 1, was on the August 24, 2010 primary election ballot as an initiated state statute in the state of Alaska, where it was defeated. Defeatedd

If Ballot Measure 1 had been approved, it would have mandated that no public organization or person who is employed by the state could receive, permit, require or facilitate the use of public resources for any political agenda such as campaigning, lobbying or other similar activities. Violation would have resulted in a Class A misdemeanor if the measure had been approved. The primary sponsors of the measure were Scott A. Kohlaas, Tonya A. Shuravloff and Robert Clift.[1][2]

Election results

Official election results are as follows:

Alaska Anti Corruption, Ballot Measure 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No97,47860.78%
Yes 62,909 39.22%

Results via the Alaska Division of Elections.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title that voters saw on their ballots read:[3]

This bill would ban the use of public funds for political campaigns and lobbying by state and local government agencies, and school districts. Public funds could not be used to support or oppose ballot measures, lobby to pass a law, or ask for public funding. Any entity that lobbies or campaigns would be barred from receiving public funds. It would ban political contributions by government contract holders and members of their families. It would ban legislators and their staff from being employed by government contract holders for two years after leaving state service. The bill has criminal and civil penalties.

Should this initiative become law?

Initiative text

The beginning of the text of the initiative read:

No public body, public officer, person in the employ of the state, any of its political subdivisions, any school district, or candidate for public office may, directly or indirectly, direct, permit, receive, require, or facilitate the use of tax revenues or any other public resources for campaign, lobbying, or partisan purposes, including payment of dues or membership fees of any kind to any person, league, or association which, directly or indirectly, engages in lobbying, campaigns, or partisan activity. No candidate, political committee, or political party may accept any contribution from any state, state agency, political subdivision of the state, foreign government, federal agency, or the federal government. A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Full text of the initiative can be read here.

Support

Supporters

  • The Committee to Stop Corruption was a part of Clean Team Alaska. According to their website, the organization stated:
“Our state and federal politicians have blemished our good name and have given us a black eye in the national spotlight. Alaska politicians caught up in a web of special interest shakedowns and greedy scandals are looked on as the embodiment of everything wrong with politics today.”[5]

Arguments

Arguments that were made in favor of the measure included:

  • According to the sponsors, the initiative would have prohibited government contractors from contributing to political campaigns and hiring legislators or their staffers -- or even former legislators and aides who had been out of office less than two years. The Anti-Corruption Initiative also would have prohibited spending any public money on any campaign, lobbying or partisan purpose.[1]
  • The measure would have helped tone down political action committees that donated a lot of money and dominated legislative session by sending lobbyists for their political interests, supporters said.[7]
  • According to Mike Prax, contributions that were given from "no-bid contracts" were too similar to "under-the-table payoffs."
  • Prax stated in a speech at an Interior Republicans luncheon on April 30, 2010, "I think that a campaign contribution — though not illegal and not necessarily given with bad intent — it has the same effect. You’re buying influence with a campaign contribution. That’s why I make campaign contributions. That’s why everybody makes campaign contributions.”
  • The campaign for the measure, known as "Clean Team Alaska," stated that the Anti-Corruption act would have cleaned up a system that "has been corrupted from the bottom up." The campaign wrote on their website that certain political agendas were pushed in a manner that were detrimental to government implementation of laws. According to the campaign, "Service area commissioners avoid asking their neighbors for increased taxes by forming committees to lobby local, state and federal governments to fund their demands; local assemblies avoid asking their constituents for increased taxes by joining municipal leagues and hiring lobbyists to secure state funding for capitol projects and special interest demands..."
  • The website for the campaign argued that lawmakers covered up certain fiscal matters, stating, "Municipal leaders and legislators argue that they’re able to manage state dollars more efficiently than state agencies because they’re closer to the people. However, if they truly believed this, they would identify the duplicated services and brag to us about how much they actually saved."
  • Arguments in favor of the measure by the campaign Yes on 1, can be found here
  • Jason Cline, member of Clean Team Alaska, stated that groups such as the Alaska Municipal League, which was a group that represented town governments, should not have been funded by public money, given that budgets were high. Cline claimed, "Nothing's happening to make cuts in government, and I think what's happening is that we have these state budgets that are justified by these municipal spending requests; these pet projects by legislators."[8]

Campaigning

According to reports, the measure's supporters dropped their campaign efforts, stating that the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska's changes to the ballot language had given an unfair advantage to those who wanted to reject the measure. Initiative organizers did not take their argument to court, citing corruption in the judicial system.

According to Clean Team Alaska committee chairman Dick Randolph, "The current attorney general and lieutenant governor are clearly not acting within the law, and the only course of action we have is a lengthy and costly legal fight with very little expectation of a favorable ruling from a court system that embraces the same culture of corruption as the attorney general and lieutenant governor." Although the group planned to drop their campaign, the measure remained on the primary ballot for voters to decide. Josh Applebee, campaign manager for the group opposed to the initiative, Stop the Gag Law, stated, "Their decision doesn't change our track. It's still going to be on the ballot. It's still a bad initiative. We're still going to be educating people about the fact it's a bad initiative."[9]

Reports out of Alaska also stated that the Alaska Public Offices Commission had planned to buckle down on campaign funding disclosures from the organization. This meant that the group would have required Americans for Limited Government, major contributors to the campaign, to identify their major contributors, which the group did not want to do. Americans for Limited Government had been giving their money to Alaskans for Open Government who would then donate towards Clean Team Alaska's campaign.[10]

On August 12, 2010, Clean Team Alaska was fined $90 for not filing its 30-day spending report and Alaskans for Open Government was slapped with a $339,000 for not filing its report on time. The report was filed months after the deadline. According to Ken Jacobus, member of Alaskans for Open Government, "Because we didn't think we had to file and filing is a bunch of work, I didn't file. And once someone raised a question about it whether we should file or not, I filed."[11]

Opposition

Opponents

Opponents of the measure included the following:[12]

  • The campaign against the measure called itself Stop the Gag Law.[4]
  • The Alaska Chamber of Commerce (dead link)
  • The Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference
  • The Alaska Democratic Party
  • The Resource Development Council
  • Anchorage Economic Development Corp.
  • The Alaska Municipal League warned that the measure would have been detrimental to free speech. Kathie Wasserman, member of the group, stated, "It will hamper almost anyone in this room from taking part in government."[13]
  • The AFL-CIO's political director, Joelle Hall, commented on his opposition to the measure, stating, "It’s such an egregious attack on people’s First Amendment rights. I don’t know how if you’re an organization that is functioning in the community and doing good work, how you could support this."
  • The ANCSA Regional Association Board voted on June 16, 2010 unanimously to oppose Ballot Measure 1.[14]
  • The Anchorage Assembly passed a unanimous resolution that stated opposition to the measure. Member Jennifer Johnston stated that groups such as The Alaska Municipal league had done more than just lobby. According to Johnston, when commenting on the Alaska Municipal League, "It provides very valuable training as far as your chief financial officers, your assembly people, and it really helps local government work."[8]
  • Governor of Alaska Sean Parnell stated that although some parts of the measure he agreed with, as a whole, he was against the proposal. Parnell stated, "On balance, I think it over reaches. And yet, at the same time, I am trying to accomplish what’s being done in the initiative in my administration — which is more transparent government."[15]
  • The Anchorage School Board voted on June 7, 2010 to oppose the initiative.[16]
  • Representative Jay Ramras, candidate for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, stated his opposition to the measure, calling the proposal "bad public policy."
  • The League of Women Voters of Alaska were against the measure, stating in a letter to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "The initiative, which will be on the primary ballot — not the larger, general election ballot — would stunt citizens’ abilities to petition government through professional representation or services. Free speech would be unduly compromised, as the measure would disallow the rights of some citizens to take part in governmental processes through campaign contributions."[17]
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board passed a resolution on August 3, 2010 to oppose the ballot measure.[18]

Arguments

Arguments that have been made in opposition to the measure included:

  • Opponents of the measure believed the title of "Anti-Corruption Act" was confusing and mislead voters, which opponents said might have caused many to sign the petitions during the signature drive.[12]
  • According to a column published by the Anchorage Press: "...the mayor couldn’t even make a phone call from his office to legislators asking for money (the telephone would constitute use of public money and tax revenue to lobby the lawmakers). Nonprofits who receive public money would be subject to the same restrictions—no ability to lobby the legislature for their causes."[12]
  • Opponents had stated that the initiative would have stunted citizens' abilities to petition government through professional representation or services.[7]
  • Free speech would have been compromised, as the measure would have disallowed the rights of citizens to take part in governmental processes through campaign contributions.
  • According to Juneau attorney Ben Brown, who wrote an opinion column published by the Juneau Empire, wrote in reference to Measure 1, "Having served many years as a legislative aide and later as a legislative liaison for a department in the executive branch, in addition to a fair amount of other time in the Capitol, I can tell you that silencing local governments and state departments would not help the legislative process."[19]
  • Vote No:Measure 1 was the campaign against the measure, whose website stated that the measure would have not allowed citizens to donate to the candidate of their choice. The website claimed, "If enacted, thousands of average Alaskans would lose their ability to petition their state and local governments and donate freely to candidates of their choice."[20]
  • The campaign also argued that business owners would have been affected negatively. The campaign wrote on their website, "Business owners who hold contracts with their city or the state would no longer be allowed to donate to the candidates of their choice. A snowplow driver who works seasonally for the city, for example, would be criminalized if he gave money to an assembly candidate from his neighborhood."
  • The campaign also listed other groups and individuals that would have been negatively affected by the measure. Teachers, firefighters, police, nonprofits, and trade associations were listed on the site.[20]
  • Opponents also stated that the vagueness of the measure could have allowed for courts to overturn parts of the measure, due to the unconstitutional aspects of the proposal.[6]

Rallies, campaigning and tactics

  • On May 1, 2010, a rally was held at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers headquarters in opposition of the measure. The rally in Fairbanks included local politicians and union leaders that were against the measure. The event had 50 people in attendance, with opponents making their arguments for why the measure should not have been passed. According to Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins, the measure would have hurt municipal governments that attempted to bring funds into their communities.[21]
  • On May 13, 2010, the Kodiak City Council voted on a resolution to oppose the measure. According to Aimee Kniaziowski, city manager, the ballot title deceived voters due to the "Anti-Corruption" title. Kniaziowski stated that the measure would have had negative impacts on lobbying. She claimed, "We would have to wait for an invitation from that legislative group to come and speak to them about what our interests our. It could limit my ability to follow and lobby for specific legislation or funding."[22]
  • During the week of May 17, 2010, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly voted on a resolution to donate $1,000 toward the campaign against the measure.[4]
  • Fairbanks Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins and Assemblywoman Kelly Brown sponsored a resolution calling for the Borough Assembly to oppose the measure. The resolution was to be decided on August 12, 2010.[23]

Campaign contributions

Yes on Ballot Measure 1

The main contributor to the campaign for the measure, Clean Team Alaska, had been Alaskans for Open Government, who donated more than $80,000. That was out of the $85,000 that had been donated to the campaign, according to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, as of late May. The rest had been donated by Anchorage Attorney Ken Jacobus. The next set of campaign finance reports were due on July 26, 2010.[6]

Jacobus stated during late June 2010 that Alaskans for Limited Government had contributed about $142,500 towards the campaign for the measure.[24]

No on Ballot Measure 1

The campaign against the measure, Stop the Gag Law, had only collected $355 as of February 1, 2010, which was when campaign financial reports were due to the Alaska Public Office Commission. However, reports stated that the campaign had received approximately $300,000 since then. The next set of campaign finance reports were due on July 26, 2010. As of that report, the Stop the Gag Law campaign had collected more than $800,000 and reported that it had spent about $776,000, mostly on television ads.[25][6]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Alaska ballot measures, 2010

Opinions

  • The Anchorage Daily News wrote an editorial commenting on the Alaskans for Open Government and their financial contributions disclosures. According to the editorial, "The primary support for Proposition 1, which backers call the anti-corruption ballot measure, is a group called Alaskans for Open Government. We hope they're also Alaskans for disclosure of political contributions, because so far neither the initiative's backers nor the organization's website is revealing Alaskans for Open Government's donors...Alaskans for Open Government needs to be open about who bankrolls the campaign."[26]
  • The Anchorage Daily News wrote another editorial on June 12, 2010, this time commenting on the initiative backers dropping their campaign. The editorial stated, " Now they've quit the field, said there's no justice in the courts and claimed corruption is so embedded in Alaska's public life that all they can do is retreat and wait for another day...If a more informative summary hurts the initiative's chances, sponsors should take another look at the initiative."[27]

Opposition

  • The Juneau Empire published an editorial on August 23, 2010, stating an opposition to the measure. The editorial stated, "Ballot Measure No. 1 would also prohibit legislators and their staffers from accepting employment from a holder of a government contract for two years after the conclusion of their public service. This provision seems to want to address situations like that of Bruce Weyhrauch, the former Juneau state representative who is now indicted on charges stemming from a federal investigation of his requesting work from oil-field services provider VECO Corp. while the legislature debated giving the oil industry billions in tax benefits. An admirable goal, to be sure, but the method requested of voters in pursuit of this goal would discourage able men and women from pursuing election to state office...Ballot Measure No. 1 means well, but is loaded with unintended consequences, and should fail at the polls."[28]
  • The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, was against the measure, stating in an editorial, "On the surface that sounds fine, but the line between information and lobbying can be thin. If a school district needs money for capital improvements, is it lobbying to send the superintendent to Juneau? For example, the measure allows communication, but specifically prohibits “...promoting, or distributing studies...calculated to induce support." Public funds could also not be used to support or oppose ballot measures, like this one...no is what we are voting on Ballot Measure 1."[29]
  • The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner was against the measure, stating in their editorial published on August 20, 2010, "Proponents of the measure say average voters should bring such troubles to the attention of legislators. The average voter might do so, but why cut out an authoritative source? We elect mayors, assembly members and school board members to represent us. And our local government officers shouldn’t have to wait for a call from Juneau before they do that job. Alaskans should vote “no” on Ballot Measure 1."[30]

Path to the ballot

The Lieutenant Governor of Alaska determined that the petition had gathered enough signatures and was properly filed. The signatures that must have been collected for the initiative to be considered for the ballot was 23,831. The group submitted the petition by the one year filing deadline of December 22, 2008. All citizen initiatives in Alaska are indirect initiated state statutes, therefore the measure was left for the Alaska Legislature to decide on the its status. Subsequently, the measure was placed on the ballot. If the initiative was filed by January 15, 2008, it would have appeared on a 2008 ballot.[2]

Timeline

  • October 22, 2007: Application was received in the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska's Office with copies sent to the Department of Law and Division of Elections.
  • November 1, 2007: The Division of Elections determined that there were a sufficient number of sponsor signatures.
  • December 19, 2007: The application was certified by the Lt. Governor.
  • December 21, 2007: Petition booklets were issued to the sponsors.
  • December 22, 2008: The one year filing deadline for this petition.
  • April 4, 2008: Not enough signatures were gathered by this deadline to qualify the petition for 2008 election ballot. Supporters then continued their petition drive to qualify for the 2010 ballot.
  • May 15, 2009: Lieutenant Governor deemed petition was properly filed, sending the measure to the primary election ballot.[2]

See also

External links

Additional reading

Support

Opposition

Informational

Controversies

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Anchorage Daily News: "Dueling initiatives," April 4, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Alaska Division of Elections, "Petition Status Report" (dead link)
  3. Alaska Division of Elections, "Ballot Measures Appearing on the Primary Election Ballot," accessed August 19, 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Kodiak Daily Mirror, "Borough stands against ‘gag law’," May 27, 2010
  5. Committee to Stop Corruption, "Home Page"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Anchorage Daily News, "Surprising groups oppose new measure against corruption," May 23, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Alaska campaign finance ballot measure draws mixed views," May 1, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 KTUU.com, "Local lawmakers say anti-corruption measure goes too far," May 27, 2010
  9. Anchorage Daily News, "Group backs away from anti-corruption bill," June 11, 2010
  10. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Alaska regulators were about to require more disclosure from Clean Team Alaska," June 16, 2010
  11. KTUU.com, "Ballot Measure 1 supporters hit with state fines," August 12, 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Anchorage Press, "What’s in a name? Critics say a ballot initiative in August’s election is misleading at best, and onerous at worst," February 17, 2010 (dead link)
  13. Juneau Empire, "Alaska Municipal League warns of 'gag' initiative," May 14, 2010
  14. The Cordova Times, "OPINION: Vote 'no' on Proposition 1," August 17, 2010
  15. Kodiak Daily Mirror, "Parnell speaks on ballot initiatives," June 2, 2010
  16. KTUU.com, "Anchorage School Board votes to oppose anti-corruption initiative," June 7, 2010
  17. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Letter to the Editor," July 30, 2010
  18. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "FNSB school board opposes Ballot Measure 1," August 4, 2010 (dead link)
  19. Juneau Empire, "Measure 1 could be costly in several ways," May 16, 2010
  20. 20.0 20.1 Stop the Gag Law, "Don’t be fooled by semantics or the out-of-state interests who brought this initiative to Alaska"
  21. KTUU.com, "Fairbanks rally held on statewide ballot initiative," May 2, 2010
  22. Kodiak Daily Mirror, "City passes resolution opposing an anti-corruption initiative," May 14, 2010
  23. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Resolution sought in opposition to Alaska anti-corruption act," August 2, 2010
  24. Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska regulators planned disclosure on initiative," June 16, 2010 (dead link)
  25. Alaska Dispatch, "For anti-'gag law' group, the fight goes on," August 6, 2010
  26. Anchorage Daily News, "Our view: Get out in the light," May 24, 2010
  27. Anchorage Daily News, "Our view: Why quit the field?," June 12, 2010
  28. Juneau Empire, "Empire editorial: Vote no to both," August 23, 2010
  29. Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, "Primary: ‘No’ for Measure 1," August 16, 2010 (dead link)
  30. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Messy measure: Ballot summary misses measure No. 1’s central issue," August 20, 2010