Anchorage oil consultant and blogger Brad Keithley said Wednesday he plans to create his own super-PAC-like political organization to support legislative candidates who would reduce state spending.
Keithley, who considered a run for governor this year, said he planned to put about $200,000 of his own money into the independent effort. He said he would be nonpartisan in his approach and wouldn’t concern himself with social or other nonfiscal issues.
He described his own political outlook as libertarian and in a recent interview cited the third-party presidential bid of billionaire H.Ross Perot in 1992 as a model for highlighting government spending.
“I believe in what Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton said: The best social policy is a job,” Keithley said.
Keithley said he wanted to bring attention to what he said was unsustainable state spending that would be paid for by a future generation. Even though legislative leaders and Gov. Sean Parnell say they’ve brought down the budget, the state is still spending too much, reaching deep into its savings accounts to cover its deficit, Keithley said.
Keithley used the sustainable spending target of retired professor Scott Goldsmith of the University of Alaska’s Institute for Social and Economic Research: $5.5 billion, had the state not been in deficit the last couple of years. With the depletion of savings, Goldsmith lowered the target to $5 billion earlier this year. Keithley said it’s more like $4.75 billion now.
Goldsmith reached his target by predicting future tax revenues and considering current savings accounts.
Three years ago, unrestricted general fund spending was $7.9 billion, Keithley said. Two years ago, it was $7.2 billion, and this year $6.2 billion, he said.
Keithley said Parnell could have used his line-item veto authority to reduce the spending plan sent to him by the Legislature but chose not to. Nevertheless, Keithley said, he doesn’t plan to target the governor’s race with his political fund because he doesn’t have enough money to make a difference. Instead, he plans to target three to five legislative races. He said he will send questionnaires to candidates and decide who to support after the Aug. 19 primary based on the answers of all candidates and the records of incumbents.
Keithley said he doesn’t blame the oil-tax cuts in Senate Bill 21 for reduced state revenues. He said he’s opposing Ballot Measure 1, the referendum to repeal the law on the primary ballot.
Keithley, 62, wouldn’t identify his consulting clients. He said the money for his election effort will come from his own savings, not oil-industry clients. He said he doesn’t work for Alaska’s main oil producers but represents independent producers and investors who are concerned about becoming a target for higher taxes in Alaska if the state’s savings run dry.
Keithley was a partner in a Dallas law firm from 1990 to 2008 and still uses a cellphone with a 214 area code. He said he plans to remain in Alaska and “will be around” for the 2016 election with his personal PAC.