Unintended consequences: Libertarian will be joining APOC Commission

Former gubernatorial and legislative aide Christopher Clark spotted interesting statutory requirements for various commissioners, one of which highlights the unintended consequences of not having a Democratic gubernatorial ticket.

Because of state law, the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the agency which oversees the state’s campaign finance laws, will see its first Libertarian commissioner come March and another one in 2017. According to statute, partisan members of the five-member commission must belong to the two political parties that received the highest votes in the most recent gubernatorial election, which would be the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party. Currently, there’s two Republican and two Democratic members and one public member. Democrat Elizabeth Hickerson’s term expires March 1, 2015. Another Democratic seat, which expires in 2017, will also go to a Libertarian.

APOC, at least, is aware of the issue. It contacted the Libertarian Party to request a list of names. Chair Mike Chambers gave them four: Mark Fish, Ron Windler, Carloyn Clift and Bill McCord.

Clift ran for governor, and Fish, who appears to be the preferred nominee, ran for U.S. Senate last election.

I called Fish about his possible appointment, and wondered if his duties would conflict with his Libertarian philosophy of limited government.

“We aren’t anarchists,” he said. “We do believe in some government and holding public officials accountable is part of that.”

He said that if he were commissioner, he would push for more transparency and work to help to clarify the “byzantine” rules which can intimate people who want to serve. It’s a complaint often heard about APOC.

“I once asked if I had to put a ‘paid-for’ disclaimer on a balloon, and they had to think about it,” Fish said.

Some other interesting statutory requirements for commissioners:

The commissioner of education must be appointed by the board of education, and then be approved by the governor. The commissioner must have at least a master’s degree with at least five years of educational experience, three of which must be in administration.

The Board of the Department of Fish and Game also has a say in the way the Fish and Game commissioner is chosen. The governor chooses from a list of names that the board has submitted. Today, Gov. Bill Walker chose commercial fisherman and former Democratic legislator Sam Cotten as acting commissioner. Cotten’s deep ties to commercial fishing might cause some consternation among sports fishing advocates who sit on the board. However, the board often defers to the governor’s choice.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


17 thoughts on “Unintended consequences: Libertarian will be joining APOC Commission

  1. Richard Winger

    Carolyn Clift’s idea of abolishing the primary is far better than having a top-two system. Top-two systems, in practice, give us general elections with only Republicans and Democrats on the ballot. In the 3 top-two states, Louisiana, Washington, and California, no minor party candidate has ever placed first or second in the primary if there were at least two major party people running. Thankfully, Louisiana has abolished its primary and just has general elections, and a run-off in December if no one gets 50%.

  2. Carolyn Clift

    I am proud to have served my Libertarian Party by running for governor and gathering 3.2% of the vote. If I had not gathered at least 3%, we would have lost our party status as a political party in Alaska. The other win is that my party came in second in the General Election for governor. If I had obtained more votes, it is possible that Walker would not have won, and Parnell would have been re-elected.

    The primary election, especially this year, was a bad joke. The Republicans got a free election, paid for by the State of Alaska. The ADL ballot was useless: The Democrats had a New Yorker run for US Senate and did not even use their gov./lt. gov. winners; the Alaskan Independence Party had two candidates for US Senate, and the winner quit, so they had no one; the Libertarian Party had three candidates for US Senate, and the winner quit so we appointed our only endorsed Senate candidate, Fish. We had an endorsed slate that went forward on to the General Election. One of my first acts, if I had been elected governor, would have been to encourage saving money by doing away with the Primary Election. The Republicans have enough money to have their own convention and/or election, and the parties have always had the choice of opting out.

    Amanda, I think you are the only reporter who has covered this APOC commission opportunity, and it’s a BIG WIN for the Libertarians and all of the third parties and independents in Alaska. The two-party system has got to go. Care Clift

  3. Dennis S.

    Great point. I’m sure, as reported, this was an unintended consequence; however, getting rid of Liz Hickerson is worth a celebration. APOC, primarily under her leadership, became the equivalent of the Salem Witch Trials. She has done more to erode the agency;s credibility than anyone in the state. She should be ashamed of her conduct on the commission.
    APOC is an inportant agency. Transparency and information are vital. Hickerson’s focus wasn’t on these areas however. Instead she treated it like a gestapo/police agency and by doing so cost the agency tremendous respect with public officials and the public at large.

  4. David Otness

    I like Mark and have worked with him in the past.
    We’re not exactly on the same page politically, but hey – it didn’t stop us in 2006 so why should it now?
    This Unity thing rightfully should shave the sharp edges somewhat anyway.

  5. Lynn Willis

    Good point since these two categories of voters represent the clear majority of Alaskans. Kind of like the inability of non-partisan and undeclared candidates to run in the state funded primary. If the state is going to fund the primary election, then the top two candidates for office who win the most votes in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, would advance to the general election. If the organized parties don’t want to participate in a state funded primary then they can have a convention or other means to select candidates for the general election and they will pay for their own selection process (another way to save state dollars).

  6. Andrew C. Lee

    Yes, this was a pleasant surprise when Chambers forwarded us the email from APOC shortly after the election. I didn’t want to be considered because it would preclude me from running while serving on the board (as it should).

    For the most part, Alaska has an excellent elections system, staff, laws, and oversight. Some stuff APOC does can seem a bit silly at times, but I can always understand where they are coming from. The only conflict I had was their insistence that I disclose to whom I sold the gold I mined, calling the buyers clients; I could have argued a different interpretation of the law, but decided it wasn’t worth my time. So I just filled out the forms exactly as instructed.

  7. Theda Pittman

    The Dems may have anticipated this at the time the Walker-Mallott ticket was created. I don’t know Ms. Clift personally, but both she and her running mate appeared to be thoughtful & principled people.

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