FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 7, 2018
Equal Citizens Files Alaska Suit on Super PAC Spending
On Friday, February 2, 2018, lawyers with Equal Citizens filed a lawsuit against the Alaska Public Offices Commission, or “APOC” in order to create a case that can work its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court with the goal of eliminating Super PACs across the nation.
“If we win at the U.S. Supreme Court, starting with this Alaska case, we change everything,” said Lawrence Lessig, founder of Equal Citizens. “If the government can enforce limits on donations to independent groups, then the ability of corporations, unions, and very wealthy individuals to spend money directly supporting or opposing political candidates is greatly diminished.”
Equal Citizens will show in this litigation that the super PAC creates precisely the kind of corruption that the Constitution’s Framers wanted to eliminate, and therefore any consistent “originalist” judge should agree with Equal Citizens and reject super PACs.
Alaska state law already places limits on contributions to independent political groups. Under law that is supposed to be enforced, individuals can donate up to $500 to any such group, and other outside organizations (like unions or advocacy groups) can contribute up to $1,000 to any given political group. These contribution limits make sense, because Alaska, with its abundant natural resources and small population, is a state that is particularly vulnerable to the corrupting influence of big money in politics. Placing limits on donations ensures that no one group gets an outsize say just because it has money to spend during an election cycle. This, in turn, is supposed to ensure that politicians are responsive to everyday citizens—not their big-money supporters.
But, for several election cycles, the state entity that is supposed to police these limits—the APOC—has refused to enforce these limits and has instead permitted independent groups to collect money in unlimited amounts from wealthy individuals and advocacy groups. It has done so because it has concluded that the limits are unconstitutional under several lower court decisions striking down similar laws in other states.
Fortunately, Alaska has a unique citizen-suit provision, which means that any citizen may to sue to force election administrators to enforce election law. In other words, Alaska permits citizens across the state to formally ask the regulators this important question: why is Alaska not enforcing the contribution limits that are supposed to protect the State’s politics from being corrupted by big money groups?
The three complainants in the suit are James K. Barnett of Anchorage, and Donna Patrick and Pat Lambert of Fairbanks. They stand in for all citizens in Alaska who wish to ask Alaska’s regulators to enforce the existing laws related to donations to these so-called independent expenditure groups. They believe this issue can unite Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike, because regardless of political affiliation, we should all want to ensure that our government is responsive to the needs and preference of the people, and that it is not bogged down doing favors for large companies, unions, or outside groups who give our politicians advertising support come election time.
About Equal Citizens
EqualCitizens.US is a non-profit, founded by Lawrence Lessig, that is committed to achieving political equality within the United States