By Dave Donaldson
Bills introduced in the House and Senate today would take steps to disclose corporations’ and unions’ open-ended financial involvement in political campaigns. The bills are a state response to the U-S Supreme Court decision last month that opened the way for unlimited electioneering advertisements paid out of corporate treasuries. Before the decision, no corporation or union was permitted to take part in Alaska’s election activities.
Fairbanks Democrat Scott Kawasaki said the primary bill would require disclosure of the individuals or groups paying for political advertisements.
When we look at some of the corporations that have done business here … an organization like Sinopec, which is a Chinese-owned subsidiary which deals in oil and gas. Do you really want them telling the public who to vote for in the upcoming election?
Senate Judiciary Chairman Hollis French says work on the bill will focus on identifying the true source of money behind ad campaigns.
The point is to let the people who are voting know who is trying to influence their vote. And frequently that solves a big part of the problem — if you know, for example, that it’s Sinopec pushing to derail, for example, the gas pipeline.
The disclosure bill would require on-air identification of the person, group or corporation responsible for any advertisement — and it would require that the principals or executives that made the decision to run an ad be on record.
The second bill would have no immediate effect on state law, but it would be a step that the sponsors say could convince the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. Called the “corporate personhood” bill, Anchorage Democrat Les Gara says it would specifically say that a corporation is not a person — for election purposes. He says it points directly at the Court’s decision.
What we need to do is have all fifty states come together and say that’s not right. So all fifty of us need to pass legislation saying corporations are not persons for purposes of campaign donations. And that’s what our bill says. We leave corporations with all the rights they have today except we say they are not “persons” for the purpose of influencing an election.
Read into the record today, none of the bills has been scheduled for hearings yet.