State of Alaska

Department of Administration

Alaska Public Offices Commission

Alaska Department of Administration, Alaska Public Offices Commission

AO 05-05-CD A & B-CD

Number: AO 05-05-CD A & B-CD

Requested by: Ted & Francoise Gianoutsos

Prepared by: Christine Ellingson, Assistant Director

Date Issued: April 21, 2005

Subject: Letter of Intent Requirements for purposes of Alaska Campaign Disclosure Law, AS 15.13

This Advisory Opinion responds to your April 12, 2005 letters asking for an opinion concerning whether a letter of intent must specify what state office you intend to campaign for in 2006. Because you both have asked the same question, this opinion covers both letters.

You are each contemplating running for public office in the 2006 election. The three offices that you are interested in are Governor, Lieutenant Governor and State Representative for District 23. You have asked if you must disclose in the letter of intent the office you seek.

Short Answer

No, you do not have to declare the name of the office you intend to seek. A person becomes subject to the campaign disclosure laws when he or she files a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. 2 AAC 50.274 permits early campaigning after filing either a declaration of candidacy with the lieutenant governor or a letter of intent with the commission. To actually appear on the ballot, however, all steps must be completed. You are urged to consult with the Division of Elections to determine how to comply with any additional steps

Campaign Disclosure Law and Regulations

A candidate is an individual who files for election to the state legislature, for governor, for lieutenant governor, for municipal office, for retention in a judicial office, or for constitutional convention delegate, or who campaigns as a write-in candidate for any of those offices. AS 15.13.400(1)(A).

An individual wishing to campaign for state elective office shall comply with AS 15.13.100 by filing a declaration of candidacy with the lieutenant governor or by submitting a letter of intent with the commission. “A letter of intent need not include the specific seat for which the individual may file, but must state whether the individual will seek state or municipal office” 2 AAC 50.274(a) & (b).

“An individual establishes a separate candidacy for each elective office for which the individual files a declaration of candidacy with the lieutenant governor, files a comparable document with the municipal clerk, or submits a letter of intent with the commission.”
2 AAC 50.282.

Facts


You have been an Alaska resident since September 18, 1999.
You have lived in district 23 since May 1, 2000.
You are contemplating running for office in the 2006-state election.
You do not yet meet the seven-year residency requirement to formally declare with the Division of Elections for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor in the 2006 election.
You have met the residency requirement to formally declare for state house district 23, if you choose.

Analysis

The letter of intent under 2 AAC 50.274 triggers the campaign disclosure law. A letter of intent must include a certification that the filer will comply with the requirements of the campaign disclosure law as if the filer had formally declared for office with the appropriate state or municipal official. 2 AAC 50.274(b). However, the filer is not required to name a particular office, except to indicate whether it is a state or municipal office. If the filer is seeking a municipal office, the filer must name the municipality.

Although a filer is not required to disclose in a letter of intent a particular elective office, you should note that 2 AAC 50.282 requires a separate candidacy for each elective office that is pursued and AS 15.13.112 and 15.13.116 limit the uses of the money in a candidacy’s campaign account.

If a filer intends to raise and spend no more than $5,000, the filer may file an exemption form at the same time as filing the letter of intent. AS 15.13.040(g). An exemption means that the individual is not required to file campaign disclosure reports unless contributions (fundraising) or expenditures (spending) exceed the stated $5,000 limit. The exemption does not excuse the individual from other requirements in the law, such as identifying communications (the “paid for by” requirement in AS 15.13.090). In addition, you should incorporate a tracking mechanism to ensure that you do not go over the $5,000 threshold.

A letter of intent is valid only until the election concludes or until the letter is withdrawn. 2 AAC 50.274(b).

Conclusion

A person becomes subject to the Campaign Disclosure Law when the person files a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission or a declaration of candidacy with the appropriate election official. The filer is not required under the campaign disclosure law to disclose what office the filer is seeking, but must disclose whether the filer seeks a state or municipal office.

Footnote:

1.
You appear to indicate that one purpose of asking for this advisory opinion is to establish evidence for use in a future dispute with another state agency. (You state that the “advisory opinion would also serve as a date of [your] intentions” if the law is changed to “prevent you from running.”) Please be advised that this letter addresses only those subjects under this agency’s jurisdiction—in this case, the campaign disclosure laws—and no comment or advice on how to qualify for placement on the ballot is intended.

2. For the requirements for appearing on a state or municipal ballot, you should consult with the Alaska Division of Elections or the appropriate municipal official.

The Commission approved the advice in this letter by an affirmative vote of 5-0 on June 22, 2005. 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.