Alaska News

Campaign reports show some big spending on Alaska ballot measures

As the Nov. 4 general election approaches, the campaign opposing marijuana legalization in Alaska might claim more local donations, but it has been outspent by supporters of the effort nearly 12 to 1.

That's according to 30-day reports filed Monday with the Alaska Public Office Commission.

The Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2 campaign has spent $68,742 on the campaign since April, taking in a total of $96,061 in the same amount of time, according to reports.

In comparison, the group in favor of legalization, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Alaska, reports spending $827,044 since the beginning of the year, with $867,394 in total donations. The majority of that funding has come from the Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization that's lobbied to change marijuana laws across the United States and was a key supporter of the Colorado initiative in 2012.

Vote No on 2 has dozens of local backers and no Outside donations. Top contributors include Chenega Corp., which donated $25,000 in June; Deborah Williams, a vocal opponent of the initiative, who donated $3,500; Alaska Regional Hospital, which donated $5,000 in September; $5,500 from Seward's Tom Tougas, who owns Four Seasons Marine Services; and Carol Lindsey and her son, Kurt, of Petro 49 Inc., who each donated $5,000.

Other ballot initiatives also drew serious spending, most notably from Bristol Bay Forever, the group supporting Ballot Measure 4, which has raised the most money of any of the three initiatives on the statewide ballot. The group reported over $1.1 million in total donations this year. Nearly all of that funding has come from Bob Gillam, president of McKinley Capital Management and a longtime opponent of the proposed Pebble mine.

Ballot Measure 4 would require the Alaska Legislature to approve any large-scale, open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay region. No formal group has registered with APOC to oppose the measure.

Ballot Measure 3, which would increase Alaska's minimum wage by $2 over the next two years, also has no formal opposition. The group in favor of an increase, Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage, reported a total income of $65,681, with about $14,600 cash on hand as of Monday. The group's funding appears to come primarily from unions, including $10,000 from the Teamsters Local 959 in Anchorage, another $5,000 from ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 PAC (the state and municipal employees union) and an additional $5,000 from Building & Construction Trades Council of Southcentral Alaska.

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.