A national group is focusing on Alaska in a bid to get the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit a 2010 decision that upended how campaigns are run in this country. The court decision paved the way for corporations and unions to make unlimited independent expenditures, and in Alaska, was viewed by state officials as likely rendering several provisions of law prohibiting or limiting certain contributions unconstitutional. Washington, D.C.-based Equal Citizens wants to put that interpretation to the test but it could face an uphill battle. Equal Citizens is supporting complaints that have been filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission over contributions made in the 2016 election to independent groups that backed candidates to the Alaska Legislature. One group supported a Republican and the other leaned toward Democrats during the general election.
The complaints contend that state law would cap contributions individuals or other groups could contribute to $500 and $1,000 a year, respectively, but that the law was flouted. Individual contributions topped $2,000 in some cases, with special interest and union organizations contributing about $50,000 or more, the complaints allege.
Since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, states and localities have so far had no success using the courts in attempts to impose limits on spending by corporations or labor unions, said election law expert Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine.