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Our view: Stand up and be counted

Leading members of the Make Alaska Competitive Coalition, which supports cutting state oil taxes to increase production, held a press conference last week to talk about their ad campaign during the election and what they hope to accomplish. Jim Jansen, president of Lynden Inc. and a longtime Alaska business leader, said the group has elected not to disclose its donors, who expect to pony up between $300,000 and $500,000.

Then Jansen did what he's done before -- revealed exactly what his company has given, $25,000.

His MACC colleagues should follow his example.

More than 14 years ago, when a coalition of Alaska business and civic leaders called Alaskans Together joined to urge passage of a subsistence preference in Alaska, the group opted not to reveal its donors. They raised money in the range of what MACC is talking about.

Jansen was one of the group, but not one of the silent ones. He was straightforward both about what he personally gave ($5,000) and what he gave from his company ($10,000).

He wasn't legally obliged to do so. Neither are the members of the current coalition. But it's unhealthy politics in a representative democracy to hide the sources of major money in any electoral campaign.

MACC's supporters aren't hiding. You can find them on their website. But only Jansen has given both his name and his numbers. That kind of disclosure should be a given, no matter what the law requires.

You want to be big player in this system? Then come all the way into the light, and say what you've anted up.

We don't care if you're MACC, Backbone, the Alaska Conservation Voters or the Little Sisters of the Poor. If you're participating in an election campaign with money that matters, Alaskans need to know not just who you are but what you're giving.

The notion that MACC is not attempting to influence the election of candidates is a legal fig leaf that covers nothing. Of course these folks are trying to influence the elections. They favor substantial cuts in oil taxes and are urging Alaskans to question candidates about where they stand on oil taxes and increased production. They've said it's the biggest issue on the state's plate, and they're not just trying to help moderate the debate. They're trying to drive it to a conclusion.

All the more reason the donors should disclose their names and how much they've given.

Jim Jansen didn't hesitate. Neither should the other members of MACC.

Secrecy has just one place in our elections. That's the voting booth. Until then, the more disclosure the better.

BOTTOM LINE: Secrecy of donors and amounts has no place in Alaska election campaigns, no matter what the legal cover.