Clean election initiative gets initial approval

Measure's sponsors to collect signatures soon

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2007

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on Thursday gave the OK to an initiative effort trying to bring publicly financed elections to Alaska for state campaigns.

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The ballot initiative would provide campaign funds to candidates willing to give up the opportunity to collect other donations.

Initiative sponsor Tim June of Haines said he expects to be able to begin collecting signatures within a few weeks, as soon as signature booklets are printed and petitioners trained.

That means that by the fall, while three former legislators are on trial for corruption, the campaign for what's called "Clean Elections," will be collecting signatures around the state to get the initiative on the ballot, June said.

VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen, once the state's top political donor, pleaded guilty in May to offering bribes to numerous Alaska politicians.

"Not only did he plead guilty to bribery and mail fraud, he also admitted to donating over $400,000 in illegal campaign contributions over the years," June said.

A previous initiative to do the same thing was rejected by Parnell, who said a new tax on oil production to pay for the campaigns violated the state's rule that initiatives be confined to a single subject. Initiative sponsors drafted a new version of the proposal without the oil tax.

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