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GOP Candidate Challenges Alaska Hopefuls to Put Outside Money on Ice

But Dan Sullivan's Senate opponents are refusing to sign a pact and note that he's accepted outside cash. (For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)

by
Rod Kackley

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June 29, 2014 - 12:57 pm
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Dan Sullivan, the leading candidate in the Alaska GOP Senate primary, wants to put an end to outside money in the 49th state’s general and primary Senate elections. He’s calling the proposal the “Alaska Agreement.”

Sullivan said all that’s needed to stop money coming into Juneau from places like Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., is to have all of the candidates join him in signing the agreement.

Sullivan’s closest GOP opponent, Mead Treadwell, and Alaska’s incumbent junior senator, Democrat Mark Begich, are refusing to sign.

Millions of dollars have been flowing into the bank accounts of Alaska’s races from third-party special interest groups. The Center for Responsive Politics website, opensecrets.org, shows Alaska to have the eighth-highest total of outside political spending in the 2014 Senate election cycle, with more than $3.8 million coming in from Outside – as Alaskans tend to capitalize the word.

North Carolina has seen the most outside spending on any of the Senate races in the U.S., $10.6 million. Hawaii has seen the least, just $1,374.

Of the outside, third-party dollars spent on political advertising in Alaska, the biggest chunk, $1.9 million, has been spent on ads critical of Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, $1.2 million more than has been spent on advertisements attacking Democrats.

“Third-party special-interest groups with unlimited spending capability have committed tens of millions of dollars to this race, shattering previous records and crowding out Alaskan voices,” Sullivan said. “It should be Alaskans driving the conversation on where this state needs to go and what kind of leadership it will take in the U.S. Senate to get there.”

It’s hard to disagree with the Alaska-First, Outside-Never attitude, especially when most of that third-party money is coming from Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., 3,900 miles away from Juneau, the state capital of Alaska.

But Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell does. It’s not that Treadwell is in love with Outside money. It’s just that he doesn’t trust Sullivan, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, state attorney general and George W. Bush appointee.

Good credentials, but Sullivan was born in Ohio. That’s Outside Alaska.

“This offer failed Scott Brown in Massachusetts,” Treadwell said, “and now Dan Sullivan is trying it here. It’s just a publicity stunt. Dan can’t run away from the Outside money that bankrolls his campaign. Alaskans see through it.”

The Begich campaign called the Sullivan “Alaska Agreement” idea a “strange, but not surprising turn of events.”

Susanne Fleek-Green, the campaign manager for Alaskans for Begich, pointed out that Sullivan endorsed the Citizens United court case.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling allows for unlimited anonymous spending to influence elections and declared that corporations are expressing free speech through donations the same as people.

Sullivan is currently the largest recipient of support from outside spending in the competitive Republican primary. Groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads and the Koch brothers have already spent millions supporting Sullivan.

“Sullivan again tried to tell Alaskans one thing, but then quickly revealed the truth today – he supports allowing corporations to engage in unlimited spending in our elections,” said Fleek-Green.

Sullivan did confirm his support for the Citizens United ruling during a conference call with reporters June 10, and that support was backed up with a tweet following the conference call.

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JillPZook
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