GOP Senate hopeful Sullivan calls on Begich to sign pledge limiting Outside spending

In a bold move that surprised many, this writer included, GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan on Tuesday announced a plan to try to counter the influence of third party money in Alaska’s Senate race. First, he asked U.S. Sen. Mark Begich to call on third party spending groups, including super-PACS, to cease all television and radio ads which “clearly identifies either of us and supports or attacks our campaigns.” And if the groups don’t obey, Sullivan wants Begich to agree to donate 50 percent of an individual ad buy to the charity of the opposing candidate’s choice.

Sullivan called it “The Alaska Agreement.”

The money that each candidate raises on his own would not be subject to the deal.

“We’re confident in our ability to go mano-a-mano with Mark Begich,” Sullivan said, referring to direct candidate contributions. That said, Sullivan said that he supports Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that allowed unlimited PAC money into races such as this one.

A similar plan to what Sullivan is proposing has worked elsewhere. In the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race, Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown agreed to the “People’s Pledge,” It worked to cut outside spending to about one-tenth of what the candidates themselves spent.

In the Alaska Senate race alone, campaign spending placed on TV and radio has now exceeded $20 million from February through election day in November. This leaves little, if any, airtime for other races, including the governor’s race.

As of this writing, it’s unclear if Begich will sign the agreement. If he doesn’t, it will make it more difficult to decry Outside spending and super-PAC money, something that he’s done no less than 100 times in fundraising emails and press releases, even as his own campaign has greatly benefited from such spending.

I’m trailing Sullivan today in the Valley and this will definitely come up. I’ll have more later.

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25 thoughts on “GOP Senate hopeful Sullivan calls on Begich to sign pledge limiting Outside spending

  1. KM, anchorage

    Begich is running for the hills on this one. Unfortunately, our junior senator wouldn’t lnow the truth if he was struck in the face with it. Good job Dan.

  2. Mae

    Hasn’t all the air time been practically all bought up for political ads?
    L48 Dan is looking desperate with this move. The “outside money” political ads against L48 Dan are hard to dispute. This smells and looks weak on L48 Dan’s part. To top it off, L48 Dan agrees with the Citizens United decision. Too funny.

  3. Mike V

    What fun it is to watch Ohio Dan’s praise singers squeak their tune about outside money. Dan Sullivan is 100% AstroTurf, a man with no Alaskan support outside of his immediate family. He’s a creature of Washington DC and all of his cash comes from there.

    Listening to L48 Dan moaning about the influence of Outside cash is a lot like hearing a drug dealer complain about all the junkies in the neighborhood.

  4. ABB=Anybody But Begich

    Don’t care who our next senator is as long as it isn’t Begich. I think Sullivan, Miller, the Libertarian or even Treadwell would be superior to. Begich. He is a rat and has sold out Alaska to Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi – – all the people who want to shut down Alaska’s economy and stop resoiurce development.

  5. 357

    Good observation Lynn. I agree he/she who has the gold rules. What is interesting is the number of people taking Begich to task. If anything, Sullivan’s agreement does not go far enough. The Begich ground game is currently being funded to the tune of seven figures by outside enviro groups that want to lock up Alaska’s resources.
    Begich has been asked mutliple times about SB 21. He says he’s for oil development; however, his failure to take a position on ballot measure number 1 is to keep the enviros happy. I think people are starting to catch on to Begich’s bad and misleading behavior.

  6. Karen S.

    I’m glad others see Begich’s act as deceitful. I too wonder why members of the media give him a free pass when he is openly and obviously not telling the truth. As another said, he creates a fraudulent smoke screen and the liberal media allows it. This is not doing the community a service. The Anchorage Daily News’ coverage of the election ois terrible and has gotten worst under the new ownership. How sad.

  7. Ellen

    I appreciate Sullivan’s effort on behalf of Alaskans. This has been an amazing campaign thuis far and for the most part, the media has allowed Begich to openly defraud Alaskans without holding his feet to the fire. He constantly moans about outside money; yet, his campaign has been the biggest benefactor both personally to his campaign committee and in terms of what is beong spent by independent expenditure committees and super PACs. Most of the money that has flowed into his PAC has come from the anti-gun lobby which is funded by Bloomberg or from the environmental community funded by Steyer. Besides advertising by outside groups, millions are also being spent funding Begich’s door-to-door campaign – – this from the Alaska Conservation Voters (greenies) and national Democrats. Begich moans as a smokscreen to hide his own activities. Of course, he will never sign such an Agreement and will hide behind court decisions and bills that may or may not ever become law. Watching Begich’s campaign makes me wonder if he ever tells the truth. Outside money is part of politics today. If Begich so openly lies about this, what elese is he lying about? I don’t thinkl Begich knows the difference between right and wrong. His behavior is insulting to Alaskan voters who pay attention. It is time for a new senator – – one that doesn’t lie to Alaskans every day.

  8. Lynn Willis

    Thanks for the comment. I saw that this was done in Massachusetts with some success toward turning down the political volume (as it were), and offers perhaps a ray of hope to return the influence of constituents to elections. Unfortunately, I understand that this type of agreement won’t stop millions from going directly to the candidates and is, at best, a gentleman’s/ gentle lady’s agreement.
    The courts cannot create cases to judge. I understand the great advantage of the Citizen United decision is to allow contributions by corporations, unions, and other groups to be effectively targeted by those professionals you mention as long as they produce messages not directly supporting a particular candidate. I understand that for one of these corporate, union, group contributors to participate in the process they must have no relationship with the candidates. If the candidate asks these professional groups to stop and they respond to that request, doesn’t a relationship now exist? The candidate is then arguably directing the actions of the group producing the ads. Doesn’t that make the contributions from corporations/unions etc that produced these messages illegal?
    In any event, this is simply a gesture and not any way close to the reform we need to influence the newer, more powerful political Golden Rule; “He who has the gold – rules”.

  9. Brad Keithley

    I may be missing something — as sometimes happens — but I don’t see this as a big story. As the Matt Buxton story relates, most of the air time through the general is bought now, anyway. So, this seems to be a little bit of closing the barn door after the horse is already out — or in this case maybe better put, “I’ve got my air time locked in so let’s stop now.”

  10. RudeAlaskan

    Name the negatives? Not the ones from a Begich supported commercial…..can you actually point out what you don’t like or facts? Many people are drinking the commercial kool-aid and haven’t taken the time to research for themselves.

  11. 357

    Over the past year, I have come to respect and enjoy Lynn Willis’ comments on this site. His perspective, although some times I disagree, tends to be well informed anmd thoughtful. In a post related to this story, Mr. Willis asks if it would be legal to coordinate with a SuperPAC to implement the pproposed Alaska Agreement. The people who run and fund SuperPACs are some of the most astute political strategists in the game today. They know what is going on in race to race, state to state. If the candidates were to make it known that their help wasn’t wanted, they would immediately stand down. Also, remember this isn’t a “new” idea. It was first introduced in Nassachusettes where it worked very well. No one would be accused of coordinating with an outside group for making it known that their help was unwelcomed and unwanted.

  12. Conservative Voter

    The media should be taken to task for their failure to report the truth. Begich has been talking out of both sides of his mouth, as usual, and is allowed to get away with it daily. He bemoans outside money but has been the greatest beneficiary. He has benefited from outside money more than anyone. I liked Sullivan’s ploy. Now we’ll see just how biased the liberal media is. Hopefully, they will point out the hyprocrisy of Begich’s statements vs his actions.

  13. Derp

    Whoa. Eager to see how begich responds. As a D leaner, I’m happy to see something happening to shake up the current situation.

  14. Tod Willison

    Looks to me that Sullivan’s Super PACs are starting to lose faith in their boy. His negatives ares outweighing his positives. Additionally, they can see that Sullivan is locked in a dead-heat race with Treadwell, despite outspending him by a huge amount with those non-Alaskan Super PAC funds. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was all a last ditch effort by Sullivan to level the playing field if his PACs drop him

  15. J Ichibon

    Sullivan hasn’t had an issue with outside funds being pumped into this race before now. The man has raised millions from people and PACs that haven’t stepped foot in Alaska.

  16. John Smith

    The political ads from his office and from his supporters seem to disagree with you. He has been running against Sullivan for the last four months.

  17. Jim Bob

    Let’s see who wins the primary. Begich should absolutely do a deal with his opponent, but until September he has no one with whom to negotiate.

  18. John Smith

    And ignoring it is the worst thing that he could do as it would mean this would follow him around for the rest of his campaign. The tables have been flipped on him and he can no longer pretend to be the guy who is above outside influence.

  19. John Smith

    No. He is calling out the incredible hypocrisy of the Begich campaign and his supporter, who rail against the influence of outside money one minute and accept it for their own agenda the next. Politicians should put their money where their mouth is and it is moves like this that will show Alaskan voters the true colors of Senator Begich and his campaign.

  20. Jim Bob

    Begich should ignore L48 Dan’s ploy to have his outside funders spend all their money on him in the R primary. All this pogue is trying to do is to position himself as the front-running R and bind Mark to a bad deal when it is by no means clear who the R Senate candidate will even be in November.

    Joe Miller is eating into Dan. Meanwhile Mead, who has been doing a lot of low intensity grass roots activity, still has the edge despite being massively outspent.

  21. Lynn Willis

    Not a bad idea; however, is it legal and/or enforceable? I thought the whole basis of this new system allowed by the Supreme Court is to not allow coordination between these groups that purchase speech and those who benefit from that purchased speech. So how can any candidate strike an agreement with these groups without giving a clear appearance of a coordination that controls the actions of these groups? I suppose this issue will be headed to courts to decide if even this level of control or agreement is allowable and how long will that process take? I bet the issue won’t be resolved by November.
    In any event, what difference does it make if you leave a loophole about determining the exact benefit of these ads that would require the 50% donation and then if more outside money just gets routed directly to the candidates?
    If we want to give Alaskans more control, then expand the agreement to refuse all outside money and give back what money you have received.

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