In an advisory opinion ruling request issued today, the staff at the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) ruled that the individual-to-candidate contribution limit is now $1,500 per year. This is three times larger than the previous $500 amount that has been in place since 2006. A recent Ninth Circuit Court decision invalidated the $500 limit as unconstitutional. The staff opinion is based on the doctrine of revival. According to the opinion:
In the absence of a provision found to be unconstitutional, courts have applied the doctrine of revival, which provides that the statute as it existed before the unconstitutional enactment automatically revives in full force and effect.
Based on this, they used the previous statute that had a $1,000 individual-to-candidate limit per year. That number was adjusted for inflation, leading to the new $1,500 limit. This is only a staff opinion. To be accepted, four of five APOC commissioners must vote to approve it. Alternatively, they could issue a different decision. Their next regular meeting is not until January 26, 2022. They could also choose to hold a special meeting. Until the commission acts, this advisory opinion holds.
The Legislature could also pass legislation to change the limits. Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Alaska) told the Landmine, “I support this decision. Unlimited campaign contributions are not something the people of Alaska support. This opinion aligns with where the vast majority of Alaskans are on this issue.” Wielechowski also said he is currently working on a bill that, coincidently, has the same $1,500 individual-to-candidate limit in mind.
The Alaska Redistricting Board must adopt a final map by November 10 – one week from today. Once the new districts are decided (save legal challenges), more candidates will file for office. There will likely be a lot of pressure to get this issue decided for next year’s election cycle. This opinion only applies to local and state candidates in Alaska. Different federal limits apply to congressional candidates.