Letter from Egan administration demanding contributions shows changing views

By all accounts, Gov. Bill Egan was a fine public servant. Among other things, the first governor of the State of Alaska ushered in Alaska’s entry into statehood, the Prudhoe Bay discovery, and was the steady when the state was violently shaken in the 1964 earthquake. His reputation is stellar.

Egan letter cropped

Times were different then. It was pre-Watergate, and the country wasn’t watching over its public officials with such cynical eyes. A 1966 letter circulating around various circles exemplifies that change. (Click on the image above to blow up). The letter is from Dale G. Williams, the deputy commissioner of Revenue, basically demanding a campaign contribution for Egan’s campaign from one of his departmental employees.

The letter says that all governor appointees have been “assessed approximately 2% of annual gross salary.” John Daugherty’s contribution was to be $250, payable in full.

“In the event that you cannot pay in full a check for not less than one-half should be forwarded to my attention prior to August 1, the balance by September 1,” the letter, written on state stationary, says.

A similar letter written today would be viewed as a serious criminal and ethical breach.

Not only does the letter show how far the public’s attitudes about campaign contributions have shifted,  it provides a window into the state’s current campaign limits. The $250 assessment would have meant that  Daugherty was making about $12,500 a year.

Currently, a division director makes about $100,000. If the same standards were imposed today, that person would be “assessed” a $2000 campaign contribution.

Since 1996, with a brief blip in the mid 2000s, state campaign contributions have been capped at $500 per person per calendar year.

Federal law dictates that the maximum contribution per candidate is $2600 in the primary and another $2600 in the general election.

Federal contribution limits are tied to cost of living increases.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


3 thoughts on “Letter from Egan administration demanding contributions shows changing views

  1. Lynn Willis

    Nothing has changed except the sophistication of the shake down, Suggest you read Peter Schweizer’s new book ” Extortion”. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company 2013). Mr Schweizer demonstrates in great detail how this simple “shake down” letter of the Egan era has evolved into a multi-million dollar enterprise created by polticians to sustain their careers also to empower their families and assoicates to rule this nation and profit from their efforts. . If you are partisan you might not enjoy reading the book because national leaders from both parties are exposed. Mr. Schweizer’s point is that as much as influence is purchased from today’s politicians influence is also extorted by these same polticians. This is an except from “Extortion” :

    “But a deeper, more sinister problem that has been overlooked better explains the dismal state of our national government; politics is corrupting money. While we have focused on the power that contributions have over officials, we have largely ignored the power that officials have over contributors. We have focused on the buyers of influence (those outside special interests), but paid little heed to the sellers of influence – bureaucrats and politicians.”

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