Ninth Circuit Upholds Majority of Alaska’s Campaign Finance Limits for Candidates
November 27, 2018
(Anchorage, AK) – The Ninth Circuit federal court of appeals issued a decision today upholding three Alaska campaign finance laws limiting political contributions that were challenged in a 2015 lawsuit, concluding that these limits are narrowly tailored to advance the important state interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption. The Ninth Circuit struck down the fourth limit also challenged in the suit, which was an aggregate cap on nonresident contributions to Alaska candidates.
“Alaska’s voters set Alaska’s contribution limits at their current levels to help keep corruption out of Alaska politics,” said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “Today, the Ninth Circuit has recognized that important interest. The decision shows that the voters got it right in setting reasonable limits that the State can continue to enforce.”
The Ninth Circuit upheld three contribution limits set by Alaska law—the $500 annual limit on individual contributions to political candidates, the $500 limit on individual contributions to non-party political groups that contribute to candidates, and the annual limits on contributions to candidates by political parties and their subdivisions. The Ninth Circuit held that the State successfully demonstrated that corruption from campaign contributions is a real risk and that Alaska’s contribution limits are not so low that candidates cannot raise sufficient funds to wage effective campaigns.
However, the Ninth Circuit was not persuaded that the State’s interest in preventing corruption justified its annual aggregate limit on the total contributions that a candidate may accept from nonresidents of Alaska. Instead, the court struck down that limit as unconstitutional, relying on the U.S. Supreme Court case McCutcheon v. FEC.
“We are disappointed that the court struck down Alaska’s limit on non-resident contributions,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “But we are pleased that the court recognized the importance of the majority of our contribution limits.”
The State is still reviewing the court’s reasoning in the decision and evaluating next steps.
CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Laura Fox at (907) 269-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ninth Circuit Opinion - PDF (570K)
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