The new world of political campaign financing collided with Alaska's U.S. Senate race in spectacular fashion this year, according to the latest federal election reports, with the state's leading Native nonprofit and three wealthy businessmen opening their wallets in ways that weren't legal before.
In its post-election disclosure, Alaskans Standing Together, one of the nation's new "super PACs," reported raising $1.7 million over 38 days in its independent effort to re-elect Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The single biggest contributor, at $308,000, was the Alaska Federation of Natives, a nonprofit with a mission "to promote the common good and general welfare of the Alaskan Native community."
AFN President Julie Kitka said she believed the donation was the first ever to a political candidate in the AFN's 44-year history. She said the money was raised in a special campaign, but she declined to identify the donor or donors, and no federal law will require disclosure. She wouldn't say whether the money came in small batches from many donors, or in lump sums from a few, or whether the organization accepted money from outside the Native community.
Right behind the AFN was GCI, the federally regulated Alaska telecommunications giant, which gave $100,000 in its own name and another $100,000 through its Bush telecom subsidiary, Unicom Inc.
Running as a write-in candidate, Murkowski lost the financial and tactical support of her party when she lost the Republican primary in August to Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller. Alaskans Standing Together provided a sizable boost to what she was able to raise and spend on her own.
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