Citizens United: Alaska’s response


The Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case has rendered 24 states’ election laws unconstitutional. The 5-4 ruling in favor of Citizens United reversed a provision of the McCain-Feingold act that prohibited any electioneering communication—defined as advertising via broadcast, cable or satellite that is paid for by corporations or labor unions. Many states have acted fast to counter corporations’ ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections by passing laws that force disclosure of all independent expenditures in near real time. The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has decided to report what each of these states is doing to respond to the highly-contested ruling. Today we’re onto our eighth state, Alaska.

State: Alaska
Bill: SB284
Passed: Yes

Alaska is one of three states that have passed legislation that will force any nonprofit organization that makes an independent expenditure to disclose their top funders.
This provision as part of the states’ response to the Citizens United decision is in direct contrast to an amendment placed in the federal response to Supreme Court case, the Disclose Act, to be voted on soon in the House. That amendment makes large nonprofits such as the National Rifle Association exempt from reporting top donors when making independent expenditures to influence federal elections.

A disclosure statement is also required containing how much was spent and which candidate the ad was intended to support or oppose. Organizations have to file with the Alaska Secretary of State within ten days of making the expenditure, or within 24 hours if it occurs within nine days of an election.
Additionally, Alaska is requiring written consent from an organization’s chief officer for any independent expenditure made. The state is also prohibiting any foreign entity from making expenditures to influence elections.

The bill was signed into law and made effective on June 3, 2010. Alaska created these new provisions after repealing election laws affecting corporations and labor unions.

Note: On Wednesday I incorrectly reported that there are only seven states to have passed new laws in response to Citizens United.