From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage –
A coalition of Alaska Native corporations has spent at least $1.26 million in an effort to re-elect Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- the biggest spending of any single third-party group in Alaska this season -- campaign finance reports say.
This week, the group will focus on a final campaign push in rural hubs and villages, said Alaskans Standing Together spokesman Jason Moore.
The group, a so-called “Super PAC” comprised of regional Native corporations, began flying scores of boxes full of campaign materials such as buttons, pamphlets and temporary Murkowski tattoos to villages across the state Tuesday, Moore said.
The committee has someone – usually a paid worker – in nearly every community, he said. The army of 150 to 175 people plan to canvas villages and hubs, handing out campaign brochures and teaching people, step-by-step, how cast a write-in ballot for Murkowski, Moore said.
(Check out one of the fliers here.)
The last-minute effort comes as all three Senate candidates – Murkowski, Democrat Scott McAdams and Republican Joe Miller – look for an edge in the most expensive race of the year.
Regional corporations such as ASRC, Sealaska Corp. and Nana have each donated $100,000 or more in an effort to elect Murkowski.
Miller says the spending is illegal. His campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 20, saying the group is comprised of federal contractors who are barred from participating in politics.
Alaska’s regional corporations and tribes are eligible to receive no-bid federal contracts through a U.S. Small Business Administration program that Miller wants to reform. Murkowski supports the program, though not unconditionally, she says.
Alaskans Standing Together says it’s following the rules and that Miller is trying to “handcuff the Alaska Native community from having a voice in this campaign.” The complaint is one of the first tests of the Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited donations to certain types of political action committees from corporations and unions.
As of Oct. 20, the Alaskans Standing Together PAC had paid $1.26 million to Anchorage-based MSI (formerly Marketing Solutions Inc.) for “media development and placement.” That's the source of those pro-Murkowski or anti-Miller TV ads with the blue-and-orange logo:
The Murkowski signs you see at the end of that clip were distributed by Alaskans Standing Together at last week’s Alaska Federation of Natives convention. Moore said the group does not plan to pay for transportation to voting booths in rural communities on Election Day, or pay to have poll watchers monitor the election in rural Alaska.
A tally of outside, or third-party, spending on the Alaska Senate race shows about $1.34 million worth of independent expenditures in support of Murkowski and $1.55 million on behalf of Miller, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
The biggest chunk of spending for Miller ($609,000) came from the Tea Party Express, which helped the Republican defeat Murkowski with relentless commercials in the August primary.
The only independent expenditure for the Sitka Democrat was a $14.28 Facebook ad paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America.
McAdams did get the attention of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, however, which has spent $250,000 to defeat him.