Politics & Government

Supreme Court's campaign spending decision overturns some Alaska limits

The chairman of a state House committee says a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited spending in political campaigns by corporations and unions makes a mess of Alaska campaign law, and he wants the governor, not lawmakers, to take the lead on repairs.

State Rep. Bob Lynn, an Anchorage Republican and chairman of the State Affairs Committee, told state lawyers Thursday that the issues are complex and the Legislature will be scrambling to get a bill through in the 90-day session. Thursday was the 24th day.

"Are you folks coming up with something now, are you drafting something now? Or do you expect somebody in the Legislature to do that? Because I think it needs to be clarified," Lynn asked assistant attorney general John Ptacin.

"As an attorney in the Department of Law, it's my job to alert policymakers of the changing landscape," Ptacin said, avoiding a direct answer.

"I think it's a mess at this point," Lynn said.

If the Parnell administration produced a bill, Lynn said his committee would use it as a starting point. "We'll do what needs to be done."

In its January decision, the Supreme Court ruled that federal campaign finance law that barred corporations from spending on political campaigns violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The case sprang out of an effort by a private group called Citizens United to run television ads promoting a film it made against then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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