Tag Archives: sean parnell

New poll shows Walker neck-and-neck with Parnell

A poll paid for by independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker shows that Walker is just one point behind Gov. Sean Parnell, if the two were able to go head-to-head in the general election without a third candidate. However, throw Democratic candidate Byron Mallott into the mix, and Parnell beats Walker by about 14 percent and Mallott by 26 percent. When Mallott and Parnell are put together, Parnell wins by about 21 percent. (The questions and results are below.)

The take-away, according to Ivan Moore, who conducted the poll: Continue reading


Lt. gov. candidate Fleener apologizes to Parnell, and asks for apology in return.

Below is lieutenant governor candidate Craig Fleener’s response to the dust-up between Fleener and Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign. Fleener is running as an independent with Bill Walker. Read the back story here:

I and NCAI conference organizers and participants expected Governor Parnell to speak as listed on the program. When he did not take the stage after he was introduced and I was told by an organizer that he was delayed in traffic, the universal opinion was that Gov. Parnell was a no show. It is now known that Parnell declined the invitation by email to the NCAI office manager but apparently the information never made it to the meeting coordinators, Alaska Native leaders, or conference attendees and Parnell remained on the program. While I did check my sources all the way to the top of those in charge at the conference, I apologize for stating Governor Parnell was an unexcused no-show. I would ask that Governor Parnell and his campaign manager, Jerry Gallagher, apologize for calling me a liar. I would also ask that the underlying Native Alaskan issues addressed in my opinion piece not be lost in this unfortunate dust-up concerning event attendance.


Parnell’s campaign accuses Fleener of telling ‘outright lies’

Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign lashed out at independent lieutenant governor candidate Craig Fleener over an opinion piece that Fleener wrote in the Anchorage Daily News. The op-ed, which questioned Parnell’s absence during a recent conference ,“is based on completely fabricated information, which can only be described as a campaign of outright lies,” campaign manager Jerry Gallagher said.

Fleener, who is running with independent candidate Bill Walker, said that Parnell’s excuse for not attending the National Congress of American Indians to give opening remarks was that he was “caught in traffic.” Fleener said the organizers were left “scrambling to fill his spot,” to give the remarks. He said that such behavior by Parnell was symptomatic of Parnell’s relationship with the Alaska Native community. Continue reading


Democratic governor hopeful Mallott calls out Parnell for budget claims

On Thursday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott said that Gov. Sean Parnell was misleading the public about the state budget in a fundraising email that Parnell’s campaign sent out bragging about his fiscal record. “As Washington D.C. continues to overspend and overregulate, Governor Sean Parnell cut state general fund spending by $1.1 billion in the 2015 budget,” the fundraising email said.

Mallott, who isn’t known so far for his brass-knuckles responses, fired back: “Under Sean Parnell, Alaska has undergone an unprecedented fiscal collapse. Parnell took a $5 billion surplus and turned it into a $2 billion deficit,” Mallott wrote.

Indeed, Parnell is on tricky ground here. While he can technically say that he cut the budget, it’s only because his past budgets were so big. Too, the state took a whole category out of that budget. In previous years, the state’s contribution to the state’s retirement program had been in the operating budget. In fiscal year 2015, it’s not. In part, that’s because the state took an unprecedented $3 billion from the Constitutional Budget Reserve and put it towards the ballooning retirement program.

Many lauded Parnell for pushing, and for the Legislature passing, the one-time payment. But though it was likely wise fiscal policy, at least some portion of that should have been included in the budget in order to get an accurate comparison to previous years’ budgets. (See Brad Keithley’s blog post on that issue here.)

For his part, Mallott also appears to be doing some creative accounting. He leaves out the $3 billion when he refers to “liquidated budget surpluses.”

What is true is that under Parnell, the state is going into nearly $2 billion deficit spending. And at the same time, Parnell who signs the budget, as well as the Legislature which proposes it, have continually excoriated Washington D.C. for overspending. In April, Parnell signed a resolution passed by the Legislature calling for a federal balanced budget.

“Now it is time the federal government takes the necessary steps to address its out-of-control debt. America remains on an unsustainable spending path and we cannot rely on Congress or the president to fix this problem,” he said. 

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Former Alaska GOP chair running for governor. Wants to give every Alaskan $35,000.

Russ Millette.jpg II
Russ Millette, the former controversial chair of the Republican Party, has filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to run for governor on the Republican ticket. Millette will be facing Gov. Sean Parnell in the primary. He’ll be running on fiscal discipline and has a plan to give half of the Permanent Fund back to the people before it gets raided by the Legislature, he said in an interview on Friday.

Millette was a relative unknown until he was elected party chair in 2012 by a loose coalition of Ron Paul and Joe Miller supporters. Shortly thereafter, the Republican “establishment” basically booted him, and put his second in command in charge. Shortly after that, she too was booted. Before she left, she locked the party headquarters’ door behind her, hid the key and left a note that trespassers would be prosecuted.

This is all to say that Millette and his supporters—which aren’t as few as some would like to believe—aren’t loved by the Republican establishment, who consider them less Republican than a dangerous fringe group. Indeed, that “fringe group” even has a name. They call themselves the Alaska Republican Assembly, and say that they are fighting for the “soul” of Alaska’s GOP.

Some Republicans aren’t buying it. “Russ Millette is no more a Republican than I’m a ballerina for the Bolshoi Ballet,” Alaska GOP Vice Chair Frank McQueary said when told about Millette’s plans.

But Millette, who is 68 years old, says he wears the party mantle as proudly as any of them and says he’s been a Republican nearly his whole adult life, with a slice of time off as an Independent. He boasts that he volunteered for both Barry Goldwater and for Ronald Reagan.

There are all sorts of ways to be a Republican, he said. His way is the “anti-establishment” way.

“I usually find that candidate who the Republican establishment is against, and I support that person,” he said.

Millette’s platform and his plan will likely grate many, who will call it a populist ploy. But if he plays it right, it might be a very smart populist ploy. He wants to take half of the Permanent Fund—roughly $25 billion–and give it to the people. That would amount to a check of about $35,000 to every man, woman and child in Alaska.

He says it’s either that or let the Legislature spend it on growing state government, “They’re going to come after that money,” he said. “It was created for the people,” he said and it should go to the people.

As for oil taxes, the other big issue, he said that he’s for a flat tax. Both SB 21, and ACES, are too confusing, Millette said. With a flat tax “we’d know what’s coming in and what’s going out.”

He also plans on focusing on deregulation in order to open the door to independents who want to drill on the North Slope.

“The incumbent Governor has become a lobbyist for foreign oil companies and that has to stop,” he said.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Palin praises Walker, swipes at Parnell and calls out Alaska ‘crony capitalists’

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shocked many in the state when she called into a local radio talk show on Wednesday morning, and seemingly endorsed independent Gov. Bill Walker, took swipes at current Gov. Sean Parnell and called those who supported the current oil tax regime “crony capitalists.”

Parnell was Palin’s lieutenant governor and took over for her after she quit her job in 2009. He then was elected in 2010 and is currently running for reelection. One of his biggest victories since being governor was to change the oil tax structure, termed ACES that Palin fought hard for and enacted in 2007 on the heels of a federal corruption scandal involving oil field services contractor VECO and state legislators.

Palin appears to say on the Bob & Mark show, which has long supported Palin, that the reason Parnell changed the tax structure was because of his ties to the oil industry, including his former job as a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips.

“Bless his heart. Remember that Sean Parnell came from the oil industry…lobbying for the cause there. Perhaps that’s ingrained in him,” Palin said. (Listen to the full interview here.)

The tax structure enacted by Palin included a steep windfall tax, and bulged state coffers as oil prices rose in the last few years. The new tax regime, which is highly supported by the oil industry, takes less on the high side but is said to protect the state as prices drop.

A measure to repeal the tax will appear on the August primary ballot. The oil companies have spent more than $8 million so far fighting against the repeal effort, which is supported by Walker and by many in the Democratic Party.

Palin said that those who don’t support the repeal are “buying into the highly funded PR campaign” waged by the oil industry.

“People need to remember what crony capitalism is all about.” She also said that there are still “remnants” of the “Corrupt Bastards Club” in the state, referring to the words on some pro-oil legislators’ baseball caps, which were designed as a joke.

Bob and Mark asked Palin if she could, would she go back in time and choose a lieutenant governor other than Parnell. Instead of answering directly, Palin changed the subject and praised Walker. She said that he’s “absolutely spot on,” and that he has the “thumb on the pulse of most Alaskans.”

She also said that Alaska needs a governor who is a fighter.

Is that Parnell? they asked. She laughed and said, “I want to make sure we’re tuned into all the debates to find out who that fighter is.”

It’s been years since Palin has weighed in on state issues. However, she said that she’s happy to do so, indicating that this isn’t the last time that the state will hear from her between now and the election.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


State-wide candidates try to connect with kids and seniors at forum

AARP Alaska, along with Anchorage middle schools, hosted both a gubernatorial and senatorial forum on Wednesday. About 100 people showed, most of whom were middle school students and the questions were written by them.  First up: The three candidates for governor—Democrat Byron Mallott, independent Bill Walker, and incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who answered about 45 minutes worth of questions ranging from education, resource development, social security and healthcare. Many of the students were engaged, at least initially and were trying to understand. Others weren’t and couldn’t,

This was the second gubernatorial forum of the week. On Monday, the event was hosted by the Anchorage Chamber, and allowed for more back and forth, along with slight tension between Walker and Parnell, mostly over the natural gas pipeline. Walker doesn’t believe that the current plan in the works will get a gasline built. At the forum on Wednesday, Walker again lamented all the wasted years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying the gasline, and Parnell again said that the state is closer than ever.

But there was no heat in the exchanges. The candidates were limited to 60 second answers. Of all the candidates, the format suited Mallott the best, who has so far focused on generalities and platitudes and has shied far from specifics. About as specific as he got was when he said that his first act as governor would be to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, something that Parnell rejected. Walker said he would also expand the program, as long as he was assured that the feds would pick up 100 percent of the tab.

Parnell told the crowd, that those who would qualify for Medicaid already get access to primary care and emergency rooms “free of charge.”

If they hadn’t before, this is probably where they lost the children.

The group of 10 or so that I talked to after said that they didn’t understand a lot. One of them said they liked that Mallott talked more than the others about education. A few of them said that Walker seemed confident. Most of them said that they liked Parnell and felt more comfortable with him than with the others.

Up next was the GOP Senate forum, featuring Joe Miller, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and Dan Sullivan. This, too, was this group’s second time meeting. The last, moderated by KTUU Channel 2’s Steve MacDonald, wasn’t live, and lacked energy, at least the kind of energy that Sullivan appears to feed on. This one also contained few fireworks. The candidates spoke about federal government overreach, about honoring our vets, and about social security.

Miller said that he would work to privatize the program for those under 50 years old, which likely didn’t go well with the seniors in the group. The two others talked around the issue, but didn’t, like Miller, address it head on. Treadwell said that we’ve got to be “flexible,” when thinking about how to save social security. Sullivan said that when the country elects “serious leaders” there’s an “opportunity for serious reform.” He didn’t elaborate.

All three candidates oppose federal government overreach. All said they would focus on the youth. And all agreed that the minimum wage hike that’s being debated in Congress should be left up to individual states.

After it was over, the kids didn’t remember much of what they said, and were mostly stymied when I asked which one they thought did the best job. One said that they thought Treadwell’s experience was important. A few of the more outspoken ones said that Sullivan connected most with the audience. All of them remembered when Sullivan asked for a show of hands of all those who had done their homework the night before.

After about half the room raised them, he said that the passing of ObamaCare was a great example of legislators not doing their homework. “It was legislative malpractice,” he said. “Not healthcare form.”

One of the students after said she was surprised how few of her peers didn’t do their homework. She also said that she had wished social issues, like gay marriage, had been discussed.

Another said that he had heard a lot about ObamaCare. Then again, he was U.S. Rep. Don Young’s grandchild. His grandfather comes over for dinner a lot, he said, and talks a lot.

“About politics?” I asked.

Yes, the boy said. A lot about ObamaCare.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Parnell responds to his handling of allegations of sexual abuse in the Guard

After a candidate forum on Monday, Gov. Sean Parnell answered questions about his administration’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse in Alaska’s National Guard, something that appears to have plagued the Guard for years. The problems in the Guard were reported in the media last October, and were revisited in a Sunday column by Shannyn Moore. More is likely to be revealed about the issue. For now, however, below are the allegations that I questioned Parnell about, followed by his response.

  • Allegation: Parnell waited for four years to act on allegations of a widespread culture of abuse in the Guard. In 2010, three chaplains had a meeting with Parnell to discuss the culture. Republican Sen. Fred Dyson called on Parnell three times to take action. However, it wasn’t until March 2014 that Parnell called on the federal government to conduct an official investigation into the allegations.
  • Response: Parnell said that the allegations lacked the specificity that he needed to take action. He said he met with now Adjutant General Thomas Katkus about the issue. He said he reviewed charts and spreadsheets that documented the allegations, and saw that the appropriate ones had been referred to the Anchorage Police Department and the troopers. On February 26, Republican Sen. Fred Dyson brought forth a “specific person who was able to make specific claims about what went wrong,” Parnell said. Parnell himself talked to this person, and within 24 hours, called on the feds. That investigation is expected to be complete in May. A report will follow likely sometime late summer.
  • Allegation: Parnell’s deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, McHugh Pierre, tried to get a sexual assault investigator to stay quiet and not talk to legislators about the issues in the Guard by having her sign a letter saying she wouldn’t do so. He then tried to get the Guard chaplains to sign the same letter.
  • Response: Parnell said that he was “surprised’ by the accusation. But when he looked into it, it was “less nefarious than what had been reported,” he said. Indeed, the letter in question, which you can read here, is one that went to other department employees. It says that employees should not give official statements without prior authorizations, and that although, according to the letter, “the mandate does not mean that an employee cannot reach out to one’s legislator to address a personal situation,” such contact had to take place during personal time using personal resources.

Finally, Moore reported that Mike Nizich, Parnell’s chief of staff, was using his personal email to correspond with the chaplains about the issues in the Guard. Personal emails are not subject to public information requests. Parnell said that if those emails were about state business, they should be forwarded to Nizich’s state account and will direct him to do so.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Parnell administration under fire for allegations of sexual abuse cover-up

Generally speaking, Gov. Sean Parnell’s loyalty is admirable. So is his unwillingness to act impulsively and be deliberative in trying to gather the facts before he makes a decision. But like all qualities, those can go horribly awry, which appears to be the case in his failure for four years to address a culture of sexual abuse that’s permeated Alaska’s National Guard.

On Sunday, Shannyn Moore added on to a story first reported by McClatchy’s Sean Cockerham about the abuses. At last count according to Cockerham’s October article, 29 cases of alleged sexual assault have been reported to local law enforcement. So far, no one has been charged or prosecuted.

As these things go, the details and timeline can get confusing, but what is clear is that Parnell himself was told by Guard chaplains and at least one other member of the Guard about the abuses in 2010. Parnell appeared to have taken no meaningful action. He passed the issue onto his chief of staff Mike Nizich. He also subsequently promoted Thomas Katkus, who was implicated in the complaints, to adjutant general of the Guard.

According to Moore, the chaplains were directed to communicate with Nizich on his personal email, which members of the administration are known to use when they don’t want their communications subject to public information requests. That was in 2011.

Only when Republican Sen Fred Dyson got involved did Parnell take action. Still it took months and it took three visits from Dyson. According to Moore, Dyson first approached Parnell about the issue in early fall of 2013. It wasn’t until March, 2014 that Parnell took the unusual, and possibly telling, step of calling on the feds for help.

It gets worse: Parnell’s deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, McHugh Pierre, appears to have threatened, or attempted to intimidate, a sexual assault investigator into staying quiet and not talk to legislators about the issues. He then tried the same thing on the chaplains. Enter their outspoken Republican lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross. Enter a big mess.

That was nearly five months ago. Pierre still has a job.

This is clearly the biggest potential scandal that Parnell has yet encountered and could be devastating politically, as it should be, if the facts bear out what’s so far been reported.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Mallott calls on Parnell to accept Supreme Court subsistence ruling

On Monday, the State of Alaska lost a big case involving federal subsistence rights. Here’s a summary of the case from the Anchorage Daily News:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a long-running dispute over management of Alaska’s waterways.The decision effectively upholds a lower court’s decision in what’s become popularly known as the ‘Katie John case.’ This continues the federal government control’s over hunting and fishing on navigable state-owned waters adjacent to federal land. The decision, a blow to the state and a victory for the Alaska Federation of Natives, upholds a 2013 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The state of Alaska had petitioned the high court, seeking review.

In a release, Alaska Native leader and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott praised the decision and called on Gov. Sean Parnell to abide by it:

Rather than pursue senseless litigation, the state should engage in meaningful dialogue with its rural residents and Native peoples to protect the subsistence way of life.   I call on Governor Parnell to accept the Supreme Court’s decision and direct his administration to work constructively towards a solution that is fair and lasting.

In 2001, when Gov. Tony Knowles was governor, the state also lost its challenge in the Ninth Circuit. Knowles declined to take it to the Supreme Court.

Many in the state were puzzled when Parnell decided to revisit the issue, which outraged many in the Alaska Native community, who described it as an “assault” on their subsistence rights.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Legal services says contribution ban likely unconstitutional

A legal opinion from a legislative lawyer says that the current law banning non-incumbent candidates for governor and lieutenant governor from soliciting funds from Juneau residents while the Legislature is in session is likely an “abridgment of the First Amendment freedoms of those persons who desire to contribute.”

Therefore, a court would likely find the ban unconstitutional, Alpheus Bullard, a lawyer with the state Legislative Affairs Agency’s legal services wrote.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the only rationale for restricting the time or place in which campaign contributions may be made is the threat of corruption or the appearance of corruption,” Bullard wrote.

Bullard wrote that the threat appears not to present the same concern with non-incumbents as it might with sitting legislators or with a sitting governor.

The court already found that a non-incumbent who was running for office could solicit funds during session from Juneau residents, but a candidate for the governor’s office appears not to have been addressed.

The opinion is in conflict with a March 14 opinion issued by the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which said that the law is not unconstitutional and that the court would likely uphold the ban.

The question to the Legislature’s lawyer was posed by Sen. Berta Gardner, who did not immediately respond to questions about why she had requested the decision and what she plans to do with it. Former Attorney General Bruce Botelho, who is campaigning for Mallott, said that he had not discussed the issue with Gardner.

The law, passed in 1998 along with a slate of other campaign finance reforms, is a particularly relevant one for Democrat Byron Mallott. Campaign restrictions already make it daunting for non-incumbents to build the kind of war chest they need to compete, and this law makes it all the more challenging. Mallott is from Juneau, and his campaign is headquartered there.

APOC said that Mallott could physically be in Juneau and still solicit funds, however, he couldn’t solicit them from Juneau residents.

Campaign contributions from Juneau residents given to a campaign during the session have to be mailed, unopened, to Anchorage.

Bethelo said that Mallott’s campaign wouldn’t likely challenge APOC’s decision and will continue to comply with the agency’s guidance.

The law also makes it tough for incumbents. In an electronic age with the regular use of Facebook, email solicitations and online contributions, how do you keep track of who is contributing from Juneau?

In order to try and comply with the law, Jerry Gallagher, who is Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign manager, posed this and other questions to APOC in January. The agency said that campaigns must put a disclosure on websites and in solicitation emails. It also said that contributions have to be returned if the campaign is aware of any Juneau resident who contributed during session as a result of any solicitation.

Gallagher said the campaign is complying with the rules.

Read the legal services opinion here. Read APOC’s staff decision to Parnell’s campaign here. The Commission upheld the decision.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com 


Parnell under fire. His pick for SARB withdraws name, goes back to California.

As I predicted would happen, the Anchorage Daily News is reporting that Dennis Mandell withdrew his name to sit on the State Assessment Review Board, the board that values the trans-Alaska pipeline for tax purposes.

Gov. Sean Parnell has drawn fire for appointing Mandell, a Californian and a former oil industry executive. Parnell has offered no explanation as to why he had to go to California to find a qualified board member. Likewise, he’s offered no explanation as to why he fired the former board member, who fought to raise the assessed value of the pipeline, resulting in millions of tax dollars for Alaskan communities.

A state law says board and commission nominees must be registered Alaska voters. The Alaska Constitution says that such boards must be filled by U.S. citizens, which Parnell used to defend the appointment. He continued to do so even as members of his own party began questioning the legality of the appointment. His intransigence, from someone who isn’t known to be so, is puzzling.

This has not turned out to be the smoothest session of Parnell’s tenure. It looks like school choice, which Parnell supported, is dead for now. Women’s groups and socially liberal independents are beginning to organize over abortion. And Parnell’s bill to streamline DNR’s ability to permit is under intense attack. More than 100 people from all across the state gathered at legislative offices to testify against HB77 on Wednesday. For 90 minutes, fisherman and tribal leaders, environmentalists and sportsman, spoke against the bill. Many of them with an intensity and anger rarely seen.

The comments of Eric Jordon, a 64 year old fisherman from Sitka, were reflective of the testimony. “Please kill this bill now and send a Senate resolution to Gov. Parnell asking him to apologize to Alaskans for introducing this ‘Muzzling Alaskans Act,’” he said. The crowd gathered at the Sitka Legislative Office building erupted in cheers.

Parnell, a former ConocoPhillips lobbyist, who is running for reelection against Democrat Byron Mallott and independent Bill Walker, should be worried about upsetting so many Alaskans. And he should be worried about looking like he’s too close to industry right now. His major accomplishment so far—lowering taxes on the oil industry—is on primary ballot for repeal. I’ve been told that polls indicate that the vote, if held tomorrow, would be close.

On Thursday, Mallott took advantage of the situation. He sent out the following mock state board appointments form:

Board on which you would like to serve:
Employer (circle one)
ConocoPhillips Exxon Shell BP
Occupation (circle one):
Lobbyist Oil Industry Consultant Oil Executive
State of Residence (Alaska not required):

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Parnell’s fight over SARB nominee flabbergasting

Given that even the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner is against Gov. Sean Parnell on Dennis Mandell’s appointment to the State Assessment Review Board, I’m betting that Mandell withdrawals his name himself. Or maybe not. Maybe Parnell will continue to fight through his press secretary and he’ll continue to lose. Why Parnell let himself as deep into this as he has is a mystery. Or, as Sen. Hollis French said today at a press conference, “I’m flabbergasted” From the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, which calls on Parnell to withdraw the appointment:

Mr. Mandell’s appointment is clouded not only by the dispute about qualifications but also by the absence of an explanation of the governor’s motivation in making the changes to the board. From the outside it appears as though he wants to increase oil industry representation so as to reduce the chance of valuation decisions unfavorable to the pipeline’s owners.

Continue reading


Parnell appointed another non-resident board member, this one to the AGDC

Law dictates that those appointed to boards and commissions must be Alaska residents. However, Gov. Sean Parnell will not budge on a board appointment that appears to violate the law. In an email, Sharon Leighhow, the governor’s spokesperson, said that Parnell will not pull the name of California resident and former oil executive Dennis Mandell from the State Assessment Review Board, the board that assesses the trans-Alaska gas pipeline for tax purposes.

Leighhow said that Parnell also won’t pull another non-resident appointment to the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. Richard Rabinow, appointed to AGDC’s board by Parnell in September, lives in Houston, Texas, not, as statue would dictate, in Alaska. Continue reading


State campaign restriction being questioned by both sides

A law restricting gubernatorial candidates from soliciting or accepting campaign donations from anybody who lives or happens to be in Juneau during the legislative session is being questioned by gubernatorial candidates from both sides of the aisle.

The law was written in 1996, along with a host of other laws that restricted campaign finances, including limiting donations from individuals from $1000 to $500 a year, limiting party donations, restricting lobbyists’ contributions, and banning union and businesses from directly contributing to a candidate.

Juneau-based lawyer Bruce Botelho, who is campaigning for Democratic candidate Byron Mallott, wrote to the Alaska Public Offices Commission that given the Alaska state Supreme Court’s ruling in another part of the law, the law as it pertained to Mallott appeared to be unconstitutional. Given that other ruling, he asked for an advisory opinion as to whether or not the law was going to be enforced.

Botelho was the Alaska state Attorney General under then Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles when the campaign finance laws were passed. Knowles supported the laws.

The Commission is expected to issue its opinion this week.

Since the legislative session began, it appears that about 15 Juneau residents have contributed to Mallot’s campaign, giving a total of about $3,000. The campaign said that all such donations were forwarded to Anchorage and that the campaign had not asked for donations in Juneau since the session.

Still, the Commission could rule that the donations have to be returned.

Bill Walker, who is running as an independent, had a gathering in Juneau earlier this session. He was not aware of the law. He said he received about three contributions during that gathering and that he would return those contributions.

Campaign restrictions already make it daunting for non-incumbents to build the kind of war chest they need to compete, and this law makes it all the more challenging, particularly for Mallott, who is from Juneau and presumably has a deep bench of support there.

The law also makes it tough for incumbents. In an electronic age with the regular use of Facebook and email solicitations, how do you keep track of who is contributing from Juneau?

In order to try and comply with the law, Jerry Gallagher, who is Gov. Sean Parnell’s campaign manager, posed this and other questions to APOC. In the meantime, Parnell’s campaign has included the following disclosure on its email solicitations:

Under recent advice from the Alaska Public Offices Commission, we are required to tell you that if you receive this email, and you are in the City and Borough of Juneau, you may not contribute in Juneau while the Legislature is in session.

Mallott’s campaign said that it will also include that disclosure in its campaign solicitations.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com