A group of Republicans trying to loosen campaign contribution limits in Alaska — following key decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years — is appealing a ruling by a federal judge in November that upheld the state’s strict limits. Kevin Clarkson, attorney for the plaintiffs, said on Monday that the ruling by U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess, an appointee of George W. Bush, came as no surprise. Burgess is bound to follow case law established by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that represents nine Western states, including Alaska, Clarkson said.
But Clarkson asserted that the appeals court has erred by ignoring Supreme Court decisions affecting campaign finance laws, such as the Citizens United decision in 2010 that struck down most limits on contributions to groups that operate independently of campaigns, though not to candidates themselves. Instead, the appeals court is incorrectly relying on earlier case law that may no longer be valid, Clarkson said.
“It’s questionable whether 9th Circuit law (in this case) is still good law,” Clarkson said Monday.
The plaintiffs — Alaska residents Jim Crawford and Aaron Downing and Wisconsin resident David Thompson — had hoped Burgess would strike down Alaska caps such as the $500-per-person annual limit on contributions to candidates and restrictions on contributions from nonresidents.