Decision lifts certain contribution limits in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Individuals will be allowed to make unlimited contributions to candidates under a decision by the commission that oversees Alaska campaign finance rules, officials say.

The Alaska Public Offices Commission, in a decision Thursday, failed to support a staff proposal to set revised limits in place of caps that were struck down by an appeals court panel last year. A draft opinion, issued in November, suggested that the limits there were in place before those that were struck down “apply as adjusted for inflation,” which included proposed limits of $1,500 per calendar year for individuals to candidates. Campaigns had been adhering to the draft opinion until the commission weighed in.

The commission, in its decision, said it declined the revive the old contribution limits and also declined to index those for inflation. There were legal questions about whether it had the power to do those things.

Heather Hebdon, the commission’s executive director, said given the court ruling and commission decision, individuals may contribute unlimited amounts to candidates and non-party groups and non-party groups can contribute unlimited amounts to candidates and other non-party groups.

The commission urged lawmakers to revisit contribution limits to balance the appeals court panel decision “with the desire of Alaska voters.”