Democrats file initiative to tighten campaign restrictions

Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Democratic lawmakers turned in more than 36,000 signatures to the state Tuesday for a proposed ballot initiative to reverse campaign finance laws passed this year by Republicans in the Alaska Legislature.

House Democratic Reps. Eric Croft and Harry Crawford of Anchorage and David Guttenberg of Fairbanks are the founders of the group known as Campaign Finance Reform Again. The proposed initiative would decrease the amount individuals, political parties and political action committees can donate to candidates.

Contribution levels were doubled by the Legislature in 2003 from those established by a campaign finance reform initiative in 1996.

"The purpose of this initiative is to try to take the power of the Legislature back from powerful special interests and bring their lobbyists out of the smoke-filled rooms and into the public spotlight," Croft said in a prepared statement. "I want to see the power of the electorate given back to the people of Alaska."

Under the Campaign Finance Reform Again initiative, donation levels would drop from:

• $1,000 to $500 for individuals giving to candidates.

• $10,000 to $5,000 for individuals giving to political parties.

• $2,000 to $1,000 for political action committees giving to candidates, political parties or other political action committees.

The initiative also would require legislators to disclose income of more than $1,000 from employment or consulting work performed outside the Legislature. Political action committees, or groups formed to fund a political party, candidate or election issue, would have to disclose to the state contributions of more than $100.

Also, those lobbying the Legislature would have to register as a lobbyist with the state after spending at least 10 hours lobbying lawmakers in a 30-day period. A law passed last year increased the amount of time lobbyists can spend influencing lawmakers from four to 40 hours before registering.

Since the 2003 law was passed, the number of lobbyists registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission has dropped by 35 percent.

The initiative still must be certified by the state Division of Elections and approved by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman. The 36,000 signatures collected are more than 13,000 over the 23,285 needed. If the signatures are declared valid by the state, the initiative will be placed on the 2006 election ballot.

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