Commentary: A shadow of elections to come?

For an example of the election mischief the U.S. Supreme Court made possible with last week's corporate "free speech" ruling, look at the trouble now facing Southeast Alaska state Sen. Albert Kookesh. He is drawing fire for pressuring the Craig City Council on behalf of Sealaska, the powerful Native regional corporation. Kookesh is chairman of Sealaska's board, a job that paid him $75,000 last year. Many of Sen. Kookesh's constituents are, like him, Sealaska shareholders.

Kookesh suggested the following to the Craig City Council: Don't oppose the federal land grant Sealaska wants from the Tongass National Forest, if you want my help funding your city projects.

With that move, Sen. Kookesh has dug himself into big political trouble.

Now the Supreme Court says Sealaska is free to ride to Kookesh's rescue, right up until Election Day, if it so chooses. The ruling allows Sealaska to spend unlimited amounts of money campaigning to get its chairman elected again to the state Senate.

To be legal, Sealaska (or any other corporation, group or union) has to do only two things: Not seek or accept any quid pro quo for its campaign support, and keep its effort totally separate from the candidate's own campaign.

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