Uniquely vulnerable to corruption? - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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Uniquely vulnerable to corruption?

THE ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET

In an unsigned opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court has told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its opinion upholding Alaska’s $500 limit on annual campaign contributions.

The high court vacated the 9th Circuit’s decision upholding the $500 limit, saying the appellate judges who rejected the lawsuit by three Alaskans failed to consider a 2006 ruling by the Supreme Court against low contribution limits on political campaigns in Vermont.

The court, which said in Citizens United v. FEC, that campaign expenditures by independent entities were constitutionally protected political speech, seemed unimpressed with Alaska’s campaign finance law. They are, the court said, squeezed by inflation and are more than 23 years old. Add to that: Alaska’s individual-to-candidate contribution limit is substantially lower than other states.

Oddly, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg went along with remanding the case to the 9th Circuit, she wrote a separate, disturbing opinion.

She noted Alaska’s reliance on resource development, specifically the oil industry, may make the state more prone to political corruption, and so that may justify the low limits.

She said, “Alaska has the second smallest legislature in the country and derives approximately 90 percent of its revenues from one economic sector—the oil and gas industry. As the District Court suggested, these characteristics make Alaska “highly, if not uniquely, vulnerable to corruption in politics and government.”

Because of that, Ginsberg said, Alaska is particularly vulnerable and the lower limit may be justified.

Incredible. We are left to wonder what she thinks about campaign limits in states such as Nevada, with its reliance on gambling, or Michigan, with its automotive industry, or Florida, with its income from the tourism industry. Alaska is far from “uniquely” vulnerable to corruption from business or industry.

It is disquieting, even insulting, for a Supreme Court justice to assume the oil and gas industry in Alaska is corrupt or endorses corruption and, because of that, making it harder for Alaskans to contribute to the candidates of their choice may be in order. That does not even make sense.

So much for the quaint notion of sensible laws applied equally.

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  • I believe the Supreme Court is telling the 9th Circuit Court that they should reconsider their opinion because it’s not currently in line with the ‘law of the land’. Many of the 9th Circuit’s rulings over the last half decade or more are not exactly in line with it either. The Supremes are telling 9th Circuit to get their act together. Ginsburg’s ‘side’ opinion is correct. Only it’s not the oil and gas companies who should be suspect. I believe it’s the leftist bunch who have gained control of our State legislature and several Alaskan communities, promoted by leftist $$ and man/person power. Both from inside Alaska and outside. The real threat of corruption in our State and our Country. Seeking control of politics, government and their use of restrictions, taxes and endless complaining about development, to stifle further economic commitment in Alaska is their MO. Politics aren’t really politics any more. Politics have turned into a dog eat dog, mudslinging, lying, dishonest mess, with only power as the real goal. There again, voting is the key to fix the mess. If the left can’t win elections, they turn to the courts first, with the hope that the leftist judiciary is still intact. The tactics employed by the left are reminiscent of days gone by, before and during WWII, in Europe mostly.

    • It is the oil haters and the monopoly lovers that are killing Alaska’s oil and gas workers but the left is saying everything is fine, not true things are very bad.

  • Does anyone ever wonder why no Alaskans or small oil and gas company has ever drilled and found oil and produced it and sold it at a profit? Alaska needs a facelift and a fair oil and gas system now.

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