Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Importance of Steve Aufrecht's Blog Coverage in Juneau

The Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee met Wednesday afternoon to hash through ramifications for Alaska of the late January ruling by the toxically activist U.S. Supreme Court on campaign financing by corporations and other similar entities. In front of them, among other items, they had a legal opinion by legislative counsel Alpheus Bullard on that decision's effects on our state and local politics. Here's the Anchorage Daily Newsletter's (that's what some of the few remaining employees there are now calling the ADN) Sean Cockerham summing up Bullard's paper:

A preliminary opinion from the Legislature’s lawyers says all bets are now off when it comes to corporate spending in Alaska elections, with no limits or any requirement for disclosure.

Cockerham goes on to quote from Bullard's report:

Given the silence of our state statutes and the likelihood that our existing statutes will not be enforced following the (U.S. Supreme Court’s) holding in Citizens United, there are now no limits on independent expenditures made by for-profit corporations and no statutory disclosure, identification, or reporting requirements for those disclosures.

Cockerham only published an ADN poliblog entry on this today. I suspect he has written a full article on the afternoon Senate committee meeting for the Thursday print and web editions of the newsletter.

Writing this afternoon for the Associated Press, Jeremy Hsieh wrote of this afternoon's Senate Judiciary Committee meeting:

Corporations won't have to disclose their spending for or against candidates this election year unless lawmakers force them to, a Senate committee concluded Wednesday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Hollis French said he wants the panel to do just that, by putting forth a bill that would "contain" the effects of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared third-party corporate spending on such things as campaign ads a form of protected free speech.

Currently, Alaska state law bans such spending by for-profit corporations for or against candidates. Since there's a ban, existing campaign disclosure requirements don't address corporate spending of this type.

In light of the court ruling, committee members worried corporations wouldn't have to disclose spending in Alaska, the way nonprofits or average Alaskans do theirs. That, in the view of Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, gives corporations "more power to campaign" than individual citizens.

Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, said he appreciated Wielechowski's point and said disclosure is a must. But he also said corporate speech shouldn't be banned outright, either.

The committee also sought clarification on whether the court decision allows for limits on this type of corporate spending. The lawyers said it isn't clear-cut. More legal analysis of the case by state lawyers was expected.

French said lawmakers will make the topic a priority, in part, because this is an election year. Most legislative seats are up, as are major offices such as governor and U.S. House and Senate seats.

Both Cockerham's poliblog entry and Hsieh's articles are very short for such an important subject. Fortunately, one of Alaska's progressive bloggers decided to go down to Juneau to cover the 2010 session.

Steve Aufrecht, whose activities and blog were the subject of
Progressive Alaska's first essay, initially hoped to both work as a volunteer staffer for Sen. Max Gruenberg, but was advised, once he got to Juneau, that he couldn't do both, is now intensively blogging about the session, and about his impressions of our capitol city.

Steve live-blogged today's Senate Judiciary meeting
. His essay, or rather - impression - is very long, thorough and cannot be over-estimated. His live blog entry is 2,153 words. Cockerham's is 256 words. Hsieh's is 294.

And it is just one of many entries at
What Do I Know? on this important session.

Go read Steve's articles. Along with KTOO's Gavel-to-Gavel, it is the best coverage of our legislature available.

Update - 11:30 p.m: As predicted above, Sean Cockerham has posted an article at the Anchorage Daily Newsletter on the afternoon meeting. His article is excellent. (898 words)


alaskapi said...

Mr Aufrecht's blogging of session, to date, is excellent.
I especially appreciate his attention to the re-districting /proposals to increase numbers of representatives .
His style and content provides far more information for consideration than the normal journalistic approaches do/does. Articles covering the same hearing about the Wrangell Rep's proposal tended to play up Gatto's hot-button capitol-move remark and slide on by the nuts and bolts of what the concerns about re-districting really are.
As it is expected that the 2010 federal census WILL show enough shift in population to trigger redistricting the proactive attempts, one in each house of the Leg, to take measure and adjust for the likely loss/dilution of representation in our state for rural Alaska need our full attention.
This is as big an issue as any other facing Alaska right now.
Mr Aufrecht's addition to the voices reporting from the capitol has added depth and dimension we have lacked . Welcome to Juneau Steve!

gchrv said...

Would you help with this cause? time is of essence! PLEASE...

"To save one life is like saving the whole world!"

Please take a few moments and help save the life of Martin Grossman

We need your help today to save the life of Martin Grossman who is set to be executed on February 16th. We are only advocating that he not get the death penalty at this time. We are asking that the Governor take the time to hold a proper clemency hearing to determine if the Death Penalty is really appropriate in this case. This may not be easy for you to go out of your way to try and save the life of someone who took someone else’s life but we must do what is just and right and what the Bible teaches us is correct.

Read more:

Martha Unalaska Yard Sign said...

Way to go Steve! Welcome to Juneau and here's a toast to your productive and happy winter visit (wine glass raised).