Requested by: Kenneth P. Jacobus, P. C.
Prepared by: Christina L. Ellingson, Assistant Director
Date issued: September 5, 2001
Subject: Fund raising in 2001 for 2002 Anchorage election
On August 14, 2001, Kenneth Jacobus asked the Alaska Public Offices Commission (Commission) for an advisory opinion on behalf of Richard Traini, an incumbent assembly member elected to fill a vacancy in the April 2001, Anchorage elections. Mr. Traini has declared his intent to run for this same assembly seat in the April 2002 Anchorage election. You have asked if he may receive additional funds in 2001 for the 2002 campaign from contributors who have already given him $500 in 2001 for the 2001 Anchorage election.
The short answer to your question is no. Mr. Traini may not accept contributions of more than $500 from an individual contributor for calendar year 2001. Mr. Traini may accept a combined cumulative total of $500 per contributor in 2001 for his 2002 campaign. This is because AS 15.13.070(b)(1) limits contributions to candidates to $500 per year.
Campaign Disclosure Law
The campaign disclosure law defines a candidate as "an individual who files for election to the state legislature, for governor, for lieutenant governor, for municipal office…." AS 15.13.400((1)(A)
An individual may contribute not more than $500 per year … to a candidate….AS 15.13.070(b)(1)
Prior to 1997, AS 15.13.070(a) limited contributions to candidates for each elective office to $1000, per calendar year. The Commission interpreted this section to limit contributions from an individual to a candidate for each elective office to $1000. As a result, candidates who participated in both the primary and general elections or in both regular municipal and municipal runoff elections for the same office could receive only up to the maximum of $1000 per year from a particular contributor. Under the old law a candidate who ran for two elective offices simultaneously, e.g. assembly and state senate, could receive up to $1000 for each elective office.
In 1997, the law was repealed and re-enacted. Under the revised section of law, AS 15.13.070(b)(1) an individual may contribute up to $500 per calendar year to a candidate. The statute no longer references the term elective office. Staff interprets the revised statute in the same manner as the Commission interpreted it in the prior statute, in that it limits contributions from an individual to a candidate to $500 per calendar year. This opinion does not interpret the issue of a candidate running for two different elective offices during the same calendar year. Since in this instance, Mr. Traini is running for the same elective office, he may only accept the maximum contribution of $500 per calendar year from any individual contributor.
Mr. Traini's situation occurs infrequently. The last time this occurred was in 1991 when Red Boucher ran for and was elected to fill an interim Assembly seat in Anchorage. At that time the elections were held in October. Mr. Boucher found himself in this same situation. He too, was unable to receive more than the maximum amount allowable in a calendar year at that time from any one contributor. There is no prohibition on Mr. Traini accepting contributions from contributors that have not contributed the maximum amount of $500 in the earlier election.
Mr. Traini may not accept additional contributions from contributors that have reached the $500 maximum limit for calendar year 2001 for his 2002 Assembly campaign. Mr. Traini is free to accept contributions from contributors that have not yet reached the $500 threshold in 2001 for his 2002 Assembly campaign. Additionally, as of January 1, 2002, Mr. Traini may accept the maximum amount of $500 from any of the contributors that have previously contributed in the 2001 campaign.
The Commission approved the advice in this letter by an affirmative vote of 4-0 on October 31, 2001. The advice in this opinion applies only to the specific activity for which the advice was requested.
A copy of the original letter requesting the above advisory opinion is available upon request at the Alaska Public Offices Commission. 907/276-4176.