State of Alaska

Department of Administration

Alaska Public Offices Commission

Alaska Department of Administration, Alaska Public Offices Commission

AO97-15-CD

Number: AO97-15-CD

Requested by: Jerry Reinwand, Lobbyist

Prepared by: Brooke Miles, Juneau Branch Administrator

Date issued: June 6, 1997

Subject: Campaign contributions to legislative candidates and interaction with his wife and daughters concerning their campaign contributions to legislative candidates.

This letter responds to your request for an advisory opinion regarding your campaign contributions to legislative candidates and your interaction with your wife and daughters concerning their campaign contributions to legislative candidates. Specifically, you have asked whether your wife and daughters, who are not registered lobbyists may give campaign contributions to legislative candidates and if you are permitted to advise them as to whom they should contribute. You have also asked whether you could contribute to legislative candidates as a gift shop owner with a check drawn on your gift shop business account.

An Advisory Opinion from the Alaska Public Offices Commission (Commission) may not include advice regarding the activities of third parties (2 AAC 50.905.(b)). Therefore, if your wife or daughters have specific questions regarding their campaign contributions, they should request advisory opinions under the campaign disclosure law.

Please note that the advice in this letter must be approved by an affirmative vote of at least four Commission members before it becomes final.

SHORT ANSWER

As you are aware, as a registered lobbyist, you are prohibited from contributing to candidates for the state legislature under the new campaign disclosure law. You are, however, permitted to contribute to the legislative candidates who are running for office in the district in which you are registered to vote. Upon making a permitted campaign contribution to a legislative candidate, you must report the contribution to the Commission. AS 15.13.074(g).

Your wife and daughters, who are not registered lobbyists, may contribute up to $500 from their personal funds to the legislative candidates of their choice. In the event that your wife and daughters choose to contribute more than $250 to a candidate, they must file APOC Form 15-5 (Contributor’s Report) with the Commission within 10 days of making the contribution.

Your role in the campaign contribution activities of your wife and daughters must be limited to personally advocating on behalf of a candidate. You may not direct or control their contribution activities. You may not deliver their campaign contributions to the recipient candidates. You may not give money to your family members to make campaign contributions.

Under the campaign disclosure law, only individuals, registered political groups, and political parties may contribute to candidates. Therefore, your business may not contribute to a candidate.

LAW

AS 15.13.065
Contributions

(a) Individuals, groups, and political parties may make contributions to a candidate. An individual or group may make a contribution to a group or to a political party.

AS 15.13.074
Prohibited Contributions

(a) A person or group may not make a contribution if the making of the contribution would violate this chapter.

(b) A person or group may not make a contribution anonymously, using a fictitious name, or using the name of another….

(f) A corporation, company, partnership, firm, association, organization, business trust or surety, labor union, or publicly funded entity that does not satisfy the definition of group in AS 15.13.400 may not make a contribution to a candidate or a group.

(g) An individual required to register as a lobbyist under AS 24.45 may not make a contribution to a candidate for the legislature at any time the individual is subject to the registration requirement under AS 24.45 and for one year after the date of the individual’s initial registration or its renewal. However, the individual may make a contribution under this section to a candidate for the legislature in a district in which the individual is eligible to vote or will be eligible to vote on the date of the election. An individual who is subject to the restrictions of this subsection shall report to the commission, on a form provided by the commission, each contribution made while required to register under AS 24.45. This subsection does not apply to representational lobbyist as defined in regulations of the commission.

AS 24.45.121
Prohibitions

(a) A lobbyist may not…

(8) serve as a campaign manager or director, serve as a campaign treasurer or deputy campaign treasurer on a finance or fund-raising committee, host a fund-raising event, directly or indirectly collect contributions for, or deliver contributions to a candidate or otherwise engage in the fund-raising activity of a legislative campaign or campaign for governor or lieutenant governor if the lobbyist has registered or is required to register as a lobbyist, under this chapter, during the calendar year; this paragraph does not apply to a representational lobbyist as defined in the regulations of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, and does not prohibit a lobbyist from making personal contributions to a candidate as authorized by AS 15.13 or personally advocating on behalf of a candidate.

ANALYSIS

As you stated in your letter, a registered lobbyist may not make campaign contributions to a legislative candidate other than to a candidate for the legislature who is campaigning to represent the district in which the lobbyist is registered to vote. A registered lobbyist may give up to $500 to a candidate for the legislature in the lobbyist’s district.

In addition to the maximum contribution limit, lobbyists contributing to candidates in their district must comply with all other restrictions on campaign contributions. For example, lobbyists (and all other contributors) may not contribute before the later of the date the candidate has declared for office or January 1 of the year of the election; nor may they contribute during a regular or special legislative session. As a lobbyist, after making each permitted campaign contribution to a legislative candidate, you must report the contribution to the Commission.

Individuals who are not registered lobbyists are not subject to the "same district" restriction and may give up to $500 to the legislative candidate(s) of their choice; when such an individual contributes more than $250 to a candidate, the contribution must be reported to the Commission within ten days of making the contribution.

Under the Campaign Disclosure Law, an individual may not give or furnish money to another individual for the purpose of making campaign contributions. This has been an element of Alaska law since the original campaign disclosure law was enacted in 1974.

With regard to your role in the campaign contribution activities of your wife and daughter, you may personally advocate on behalf of any candidate. "Personally advocate" means you may freely express your opinions regarding the candidates who support the business issues important to your family business and the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council.

However, you may not furnish the money for them to contribute. Their contribution must come from their own personal funds. You may not deliver their contributions to the candidates.

Lastly, only individuals, registered political groups, and political parties may make contributions to a candidate. The law specifically prohibits candidate contributions from a corporation, company, partnership, firm, association, organization, business trust or surety, or labor union. AS 15.13.074(f). Thus, it is not permissible for you or your wife to contribute to a candidate for the Alaska House or Senate if the check is drawn on your gift shop account.

CONCLUSION

You may make contributions only to the legislative candidates campaigning to represent the district in which you are registered to vote. You may personally advocate on behalf of any candidate and discuss with your family members the legislative candidates that support or oppose the issues which impact your family business.

Your wife and daughters are not limited to giving only to legislative candidates in the district in which they are registered to vote. They are subject to the same limitation as all other non lobbyists. For example, they may contribute up to $500 of their personal funds to the legislative candidates of their choice.

Your gift shop may not contribute to either state or municipal candidates because businesses are prohibited from making contributions to candidates.

The Commission approved this advisory opinion on June 19, 1997. 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.