Candidate Kastner proposes limits on lawmakers’ PACs



Alaska Senate candidate Kevin Kastner says if elected to office, he’ll introduce a bill to ban all elected state officials from participating or forming political action committees or independent expenditure groups.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux formed Gabby’s Tuesday PAC, which she uses to support her chosen candidates. She took large donations from a dozen well-known Juneau lobbyists, including Ashley Reed, John Harris, Jim Lottsfeldt (MidnightSunAk blog), Ray Gillespie, Kris Knauss, Paul Fuhs, Kim Hutchinson, Frank Bickford, and more, with a sum totaling $17,000 by Oct. 30.

Kastner says this is a pay-to-play scheme that is unhealthy for a democracy.

“Like many Alaskans, I am frustrated with career politicians and special interest lobbyists who seek to manipulate the system in their own favor at the expense of everyday citizens. The recent findings by the Alaska Public Offices Commission demonstrates the need to clarify the intent of the law to keep lobbyists out of Alaska elections,” Kastner said in a press release.

A complaint was filed in August over the Gabby’s Tuesday PAC, but the Alaska Public Offices Commission said the law permits it.

Enough is enough, Kastner said: “We must put a stop to this breach in Alaska’s campaign finance laws or risk a lifelong reign of politicians who use lobbyist loopholes to broker power and position. I’ve spoken with several other legislators and candidates who share my belief that those running for election shouldn’t be engaged in managing PAC activities. Just because it may be technically legal, doesn’t mean it’s ethical.”

Lobbyists who spoke to say they are concerned that every lawmaker could set up multiple political action committees or independent expenditure groups and force companies to pay those groups — or risk having their legislation sidelined.

Kastner is running for Senate seat H, which encompasses East Anchorage and JBER, a seat now occupied by Sen. Bill Wielechowski, a Democrat.

Word is that if Kastner doesn’t win, a group of citizens is preparing to launch a petition campaign to put the anti-corruption measure on the ballot and prevent legislators from starting their own political action committees and independent expenditure groups. A separate measure has been suggested that would prevent legislators from accepting state per diem when the Legislature is meeting in their home community.