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Special interest funds pour in for political ads in Alaska races

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Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2012 10:02 pm

FAIRBANKS — With the election coming Tuesday, Alaska voters will have to navigate a wave political ads paid for with hundreds of thousands of dollars of special interest money.

While some Fairbanks-area candidates have raised close to $100,000 for their campaigns, it’s nothing compared to political action committees, or Super PACs, that have raised and could spend more than $500,000 on just a handful of races this year, according to records filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The bulk of the money, including that from Outside contributions, has focused on oil taxes and defeating Democrats, including Fairbanks Sens. Joe Paskvan and Joe Thomas, in the Senate bipartisan coalition who helped block oil tax legislation.

That includes a $100,000 contribution from the industry-backed Washington, D.C., organization known as the Republican State Leadership Committee to a group called the Accountability Project, which has ties to the oil industry.

According to recent reports, the group spent $32,500 in direct opposition to Paskvan as well as additional thousands in support of his Republican opponent, former state Sen. Pete Kelly.

The Accountability Project’s efforts also have been complemented by spending by the Alaska Republican Party and the industry-backed Make Alaska Competitive Coalition, which aimed at raising more than $500,000.

The unprecedented activity in Alaska is a new development that came out of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case that ruled corporations and unions could make unlimited contributions to Super PACs.

And the spending hasn’t just been limited to Republican-backed groups. The union-backed Putting Alaskans First has raised more than $500,000 and has spent much of its money supporting the members of the Senate bipartisan coalition. Some of its money has also gone into attacks on the coalition’s opponents.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton or follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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