Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reform Measure Passes in Alaska
On Tuesday, August 22, voters in Alaska overwhelmingly approved a campaign finance ballot measure. With 87% of the precincts reporting, Measure 1 had support from 74% of the voters. (click here for updated results.) This article has more details on the measure.

This measure lowers contribution limits to candidates from $1000 to $500 and tightens the rules on who must register as a lobbyist. The effort was led by Alaska PIRG in response to the legislature's recent move to increase these limits. The Alaska legislature had enacted the $500 contribution limit after AKPIRG and other reformers had gathered enough signatures to place an initiative on the ballot in 1996. Governor Frank Murkowski introduced and then signed a law in 2003 to double those limits. Measure 1's passage reverses that.

Interestingly, voters also canned Frank Murkowski as Governor. He had come under heavy criticism for appointing his daughter as U.S. Senator when he vacated that post to become Governor in 2002.

This may be a sign of things to come. There are reform measures on the ballot in California (Prop 89 to enact public financing and tighten limits on private contributions), Oregon (Measures 47 and 48 to amend the Oregon Constitution to allow for contribution and spending limits and then enact a tough set of limits) and Colorado (to tighten ethics laws and ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators.)

Likewise, other incumbents have been losing in primaries, including Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, Cynthia McKinney in Georgia, and Joe Schwarz in Michigan. Voters may be in a mood to clean house.

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