About Unions, Coporations, etc. & PACs
On January 1, 1997, corporations, companies, partnerships, associations, organizations, business trusts or sureties, labor unions, or publicly funded entities that do not satisfy the definition of group in AS 15.13.400 were prohibited from contributing to candidates and groups. However, employees or members of those entities may set up separate political groups to campaign for or against candidates.
1. What is a PAC?
The term PAC is commonly used when talking about a group of individuals who have an interest in common and want to support or oppose candidates. Under the Alaska Campaign Disclosure law, a political action committee, or PAC, is another name for a group. A “group” is two or more individuals who act jointly to influence the outcome of an election of a state or municipal candidate or ballot measure. (AS 15.13.400(8)(B))
2. How do we get started?
When the members of an entity decide to form a group, they must create a separate account. No funds from the entity’s general operating fund may be used. This group must be registered with the APOC prior to accepting contributions or making expenditures as 15.13.050.
3. May the entity announce the formation of the PAC?
Yes. The entity may make an initial announcement of the formation of the PAC to the employees or members as long as the following conditions are satisfied:
- The announcement is of the same nature and format as previous communications on nonpolitical matters.
- The announcement does not solicit contributions to the PAC.
- It may provide contact information for the PAC. (2 AAC 50.250(3)(D))
4. From whom may the PAC solicit contributions?
There are no restrictions on whom the PAC may solicit. However, the following conditions must be met by all contributors to the PAC:
- Contributions to the PAC must be from individuals and other PACs and must be voluntary.
- Individuals may not contribute more than $500 per year to the PAC (cash contributions are not to exceed $100 annually). Other PACs may contribute up to $1000 per year.
- Only 10% of the PAC contributions may come from non-Alaskan residents. (AS 15.13.070 and AS 15.13.072)
5. May the entity assist in collecting the contributions to the PAC?
The entity may provide the services necessary to set up a payroll deduction plan. In providing these services, the entity must not exercise any control over the use of the PAC funds, except to reject and return prohibited contributions.
6. May the entity assist in preparing APOC reports?
The entity may provide administrative assistance necessary to comply with the legal and accounting requirements of the Campaign Disclosure Law. This assistance includes bookkeeping services and legal advice.
OPERATING THE PAC:
Under current law, corporations, companies, partnerships, associations, organizations, business trusts or sureties, labor unions, or publicly funded entities that do not satisfy the definition of group in AS 15.13.400 are prohibited from contributing to candidates and groups (excluding ballot measure groups). Prohibited contributions include both monetary and non-monetary assistance. Thus, it is important that the PAC operate independently from the entity.
7. May the PAC use the entity's mailing list?
Yes. The Commission has concluded that an entity may make its own membership or mailing list available to its PAC. However, a PAC may not accept another entity’s mailing list without reimbursing that entity at a commercially reasonable rate.
2 AAC 50.250(3)(H)
8. May the PAC use the entity's facilities and equipment?
Yes. A PAC may use the entity's facilities and equipment, as long as the PAC reimburses the entity for all costs involved at a commercially reasonable rate, in a commercially reasonable period of time. Examples of such items include: rooms, computers and phones. Reimbursable expenses might include a portion of operating and maintenance costs of the computer system, extended janitorial services if the building is kept open after hours, or any other cost that might be associated with using the facilities. 2 AAC 50.250(3)(G)
9. What may the entity do independently of the PAC?
An entity may communicate with its members or employees on political subjects and the communication is not a contribution if the following conditions are met:
- The communication is of the same format and nature used by the entity when it has communicated on nonpolitical subjects.
- The communication does not request members or their families to do anything other than exercise the right to vote.
- The communication may not solicit individual contributions to a clearly identified candidate or group. (2 AAC 50.250(3)(D))
Where can I find additional information about the relationship between an entity and its PAC?
The Commission has issued detailed advisory opinions to various entities. You can find these advisory opinions on our website at Advisory Opinions . If you still have questions, contact us at 276-4176 or 800-478-4176 (outside the Anchorage area).