Breaking: Groups file lawsuit against Ballot Measure 2, based on free speech and privacy violations


Two citizen advocacy groups and three Alaskans filed a federal lawsuit to stop the most anti-privacy election laws in the country. The provisions adopted by a slim margin in Ballot Measure 2 in Nov. 2020 violate the free speech and privacy rights of individuals who make certain political contributions and discourage participation in Alaska’s political process, the plaintiffs say. The on-air donor disclaimer requirement, the disclosure of donor layers, and the requirement that donors double-report contributions all violate the First Amendment’s protections of political speech and association.

The lawsuit was filed by Doug Smith, an Anchorage resident, two other individual Alaska-based donors, and two citizen advocacy organizations, the Alaska Free Market Coalition and Families for the Last Frontier. With the help of attorneys from the national, nonprofit law firm, the Liberty Justice Center, they are suing state officials from the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The Liberty Justice Center fights for Americans’ fundamental constitutional rights and has previously challenged donor disclosure requirements in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island.

“Americans have the right to support causes they believe in without overly intrusive and burdensome requirements from the government,” said Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “Alaska’s new reporting requirements present Americans with an unconstitutional choice: sacrifice privacy to support causes and candidates or sit out of critical debates facing Alaska. We will not stand by as Alaskans’ free-speech rights are squelched by bureaucrats enforcing this unconstitutional law.”

The law requires that donors redundantly report donations or face thousands of dollars in fines. It demands that speakers fill their ads with extensive disclaimers for the entirety of an ad’s run time, converting ads from communications about issues or candidates into an advertisement of a speaker’s contributors.

It further requires the disclosure of not only donors but the donors of donors—who gave money to someone who in turn gave money to a speaker—demanding comprehensive genealogies of contributions that run far afield from any state interest in protecting the integrity of elections or curtailing corruption.

As Alaska prepares for upcoming elections, the state’s onerous new regulations and requirements on donors will potentially discourage certain donors from supporting causes and candidates important to them.

“These overly intrusive requirements will shut down speech in Alaska,” said Doug Smith, Alaskan and lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We should welcome and encourage debate over important issues in Alaska, rather than impose laws and requirements that deter people from supporting causes they believe in and open them up to political intimidation.”

This lawsuit, filed Thursday, is the first challenge to Ballot Measure 2 filed in federal court. A separate challenge was brought on state constitutional grounds. The lawsuit, Smith v. Helzer, was filed April 7, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska. Case filings are available here:


  1. Now isn’t that poetic. The so called “dark money” portion of the proposition, which lured the non-forward thinking voters into passing this monstrosity, may actually turn out to be the portion that the bought-and-paid for judiciary finds to be unconstitutional because exposing the donor shell game violates the first amendment? You just can’t make this stuff up. As long as the entire prop is struck down, I guess I’m ok with that. Perhaps we should put a stay on the entire thing until a decision is reached.

  2. Left unmentioned here is that in addition to the above good points against it, Ballot Measure 2 was egregiously unconstitutional, due to including more than one fundamental and unrelated issue or proposal in one ballot measure. The judgement that it was not unconstitutional according to the Alaska state constitution by the activist judge who so ruled should have, in a just world, immediately led to not only that judge’s termination, but also imprisonment.

    • Jeff,
      The Alaska State Supreme Court somehow found that the three clearly separate provisions of BM2 were somehow not in violation single subject rule, that was after a superior court Judge found the same thing…all before the BM was even put before voters. Since the BM passed there have been a series of lawsuits through various courts and once again up to the AK Supreme Court, dealing with the other constitutional issues noted in the article above and with the same result. This case in federal court will hopefully have a different result since obviously the court system in Alaska is illiterate at best and corrupt at worst.

  3. So the dark money doesn’t want any daylight. I am with Gov. Mike on this – FULL DISCLOSURE – especially on the so-called PACs that would have everyone involved named. Of course the dark money doesn’t want to be exposed. I also totally agree with Andrew Troy on this being the only good thing about this unconstitutional abomination. But with the State judiciary the way they are, I am reluctantly betting that the dark money wins. Hope I am wrong on this.

  4. If there’s candidates on a ballot that I despise and view worse that Hitler, Prop 2 DICATES that I have to show my approval of them by listing them as a “choice” on the ballot or my vote is thrown out. It’s a blatantly dictatorial and totally fascist theft of my Constitutional right to vote as I see fit. As Jefferson wisely pointed out above, the Judge who approved it should be imprisoned.

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