Friday, August 15, 2008

Alaska 2008 Ballot Measure 3, The Alaska Clean Elections Initiative, Would Require Taxpayers To Subsidize Candidates With Public Funds

And that's not the only reason you should vote against it on August 26th. In addition, Ballot Measure Three would create a separate, parallel bureaucracy called the Clean Elections Commission. Click HERE to read my previous post linking to Republican House District 22 candidate Mark Fish's analysis and objections to BM3. Also click HERE for my previous post on Arizona's second thoughts on their "clean elections" law. Here is the specific language of the initiative and the respect support and opposition statements:

Full 24-page Text of 07CASE Initiative

Statement in Support of 07CASE Initiative, authored by Tim June, Alaskans for Clean Elections

Statement in Opposition to 07CASE Initiative , authored by Dick Randolph, Committee to Stop Corruption.

KTUU Channel 2 aired a story on this issue on August 14th, 2008. The complexity and bureaucracy attendant to Ballot Measure 3 is reflected in the Voter Guide Alaskans received in the mail; eighteen of the 48 pages alone are dedicated to Ballot Measure 3, and there are three other ballot measures plus voting instructions included in the guide. The Alaska Star also published a story on this issue.

The proponent of Ballot Measure Three is Alaskans for Clean Elections, and their representative, Tim June, had this to say. "This is the most important ballot initiative, the most important people's initiative that we've had since statehood. If we get this right, we get our state back," said June.

The idea is to offer candidates money from the state to finance their entire campaign. To qualify, candidates would have to get a certain amount of $5 donations and signatures from voters in their district. Once that happens candidates would have to agree to give up any private donations as well as forego out-of-pocket cash expenditures. The idea is to level the financial playing field between candidates and limit the power of special interest groups [Ed. Note: The ONLY foolproof way to limit the power of special interest groups is to ban financial campaign contributions from those groups, to include corporations, unions, and PACs.]

But organized opposition has arisen at the last moment. A group called the Committee to Stop Corruption has taken a stand against Ballot Measure Three. Scott Kohlhaas, a veteran Libertarian Party activist who's running against Democratic incumbent Max Gruenberg for the House District 20 seat, is the spokesman for this group. "It's unprincipled to take people's money to give to another group. And with all the different needs we have, the least-deserving group are politicians," said Kohlhaas.

Kohlhaas says public money should be banned from campaigns. "Your tax-payer dollars will go to Nazis, klansmen, communist, religious fanatics. I'm not saying they don't have the right to run. I'm saying that they don't have the right to your taxpayer dollar," said Kohlhaas.

However, Alaskans for Clean Elections say the cost will be minimal. "What the system is proposing to do is going to cost each Alaskan $9 out of their $22,500 of the portion of the state budget," said June.

But Kohlhaas said this proposal is outrageous. "That's the potential, that it could cost each election, so if you add that up it's gonna be a monstrosity," said Kohlhaas.

The amount of five dollar donations and signatures required depends on the office. For example, a state house candidate would have to get 200 signatures and would get $24,000 in public funding. But a candidate running for governor would have to get 3,000 signatures and in turn would get $500,000 for the campaign.

If the ballot passes, state office candidates could start applying for public funding in 2010.

Meanwhile, on August 6th, published a story which pans New Jersey's Clean Elections system. An experimental, taxpayer-funded "clean elections" program has failed to live up to its goal of getting special interest money out of politics, according to a study released today by the Center for Competitive Politics.

The center, a Washington-based think tank that opposes government-funded elections, surveyed voters who contributed $10 to candidates in order to help them qualify for generous amounts of taxpayer funding. It found substantial percentages of those contributors belonged to such interest groups as the New Jersey Education Association, the National Rifle Association, New Jersey Right to Life and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

Sean Parnell, the center's president, conceded the mail survey could not show whether those organizations actually collected the $10 donations and passed them on to the candidates - a process known as "bundling." But he said the results show that special interest groups continue to play a substantial role - even if it is indirect - in getting people to contribute to a taxpayer-financed "clean elections" program. "To the extent this program is sold as a way to push interest groups off the playing field, it simply is not going to happen," Parnell said.

Opinion: Alaskans for Clean Elections has oversold this program. It's complex and bureaucratic, and it will cost tax dollars. And it appears similar programs are unraveling in Arizona and New Jersey. Vote NO on 3 on August 26th.


  1. It means dirty elections. When government funds campaigns instead of the people funding them, you end up with the government choosing who gets to be in government. This short-circuits democracy.

  2. Good point, Realist. I hope more Alaskans will realize this before casting votes on August 26th. Unfortunately, the opposition waited a bit long before organizing and manifesting. Fortunately, Scott Kohlhaas knows how to get publicity; he's a veteran at running these types of campaigns.