Alaska labor unions take advantage of Citizens United ruling

By Richard Mauer, The Kansas City Star

When the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door to unlimited campaign contributions in the 2010 Citizens United case, most experts and advocates said it would lead to an overwhelming flood of donations from corporations and wealthy individuals.

In the first election cycle since that decision, business money indeed poured into so-called “independent expenditure” groups in Alaska, including $115,000 alone from one business group in Washington, D.C.

But state labor organizations doubled down. Their affiliated Super PAC, the Putting Alaskans First Committee, raised nearly twice the combined amount of the two main business Super PACs operating in the last election, The Accountability Project and We Are Alaska.

“People thought it was going to be ‘Katie bar the door’ for corporate money, and as it turns out, organized labor has taken advantage of Citizens United to a degree that at least equals, and in a lot of cases exceeds what the business community has,” said Scott Hawkins, chairman of The Accountability Project and a businessman with ties to the oil industry. “That’s not what the water cooler narrative was.”

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