Financial disclosures released this week show “Vote No on 2” raised $718,700 in June and July, with more than $49,000 in additional in-kind contributions. Much of the money came in big checks from mining and resource development groups. Shell, for example, wrote a check for $150,000, while the Alaska Miners Association wrote one for $120,000 — part of the more than $158,000 in direct and non-monetary contributions, like staff time, from that group alone.
Unlike in other races, there are no limits to what an individual, business, union or group can give to a ballot group in Alaska.
The Alaska Sea Party, the group behind the initiative, raised about $63,600 from April through July 30, including about $3,000 in non-monetary contributions. The biggest donors during the period were the North Slope Borough, which gave about $15,100, and Robert Gillam and the Bristol Bay Native Corp., which each gave $10,000.
The start of the time period covered by the reports is different, because the opposition group formed later than the Alaska Sea Party.
Vote No on 2 reported about $30,600 on hand, and nearly $68,700 in debts as of Monday. The Alaska Sea Party had about $2,600 on hand.
The initiative will appear on the Aug. 28 primary ballot.
Terzah Poe, co-chair of the Alaska Sea Party, said in a Facebook post Tuesday that she is “deeply saddened and concerned” to see how large a contributor Shell Oil — her former employer — is to Vote No on 2. “I spent many years working for Shell along side some great people and always believed they had the interests of the communities and regions they worked in as a top priority,” she wrote. “This is a sad day for me and I must think for many others who are or have worked for Shell.”
Vote No on 2 spokesman Willis Lyford said the group’s fundraising speaks to the level of concerns that people have about how the initiative would impact the economy and jobs. The group is planning a statewide TV and radio ad campaign leading to the election, he said.
Bruce Botelho, the Alaska Sea Party chairman, said his group had hoped to raise enough money to have a “credible media presence,” but said it doesn’t appear that will happen. He said Tuesday the group will try to get its message out through individual contact with Alaskans and by speaking out at public forums and making use of social media.
“We’re a grassroots movement, and will remain that,” he said.
Botelho said he’s not surprised by how much the opposition had raised but said he sees this as a fight worth fighting. The coastal management program lets states put conditions on certain activities on federal land and water. Alaska’s program lapsed last year after attempts by lawmakers failed to revamp and save it.
Botelho said it’s “highly unlikely” the Legislature, on its own, will consider a program given lawmakers have had multiple opportunities since 2010 to look at extending or re-creating a program.
In other notable primary races, financial disclosures filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission show:
• state Sens. Bettye Davis and Lesil McGuire of Anchorage holding big cash advantages over their respective opponents heading into the last weeks of the campaign. Davis will face former state Rep. Harry Crawford in the Democratic primary for Senate District M, while McGuire will face Jeff Landfield in the GOP primary for Senate District K.
• Sen. Linda Menard of Wasilla with more than $26,200 on hand, while her GOP primary opponent, Michael Dunleavy, reported having $7,340 after heavy spending on things like advertising. Dunleavy actually raised more than Menard during the latest reporting period but Menard has more money on hand heading into the primary, thanks to cash she’d previously raised and banked.
• more than $170,000 has been raised in the Republican primary for the sprawling open seat in Senate District C. The bulk of the more than $91,000 raised by former state Sen. Ralph Seekins of Fairbanks between Feb. 2 and July 27 came from him or his wife in the form of direct or in-kind contributions. Former Alaska labor department commissioner Click Bishop, who began fundraising in May, raised about $69,000, drawing support from labor union political action committees and a number of state employees. David Eastman, of Palmer, raised $10,200 in June and July.