Political fine print

There is a proposition in Alaska to require notification of parents for pregnancy care including abortions of underage girls in Alaska. I think this is a good idea and will be voting for it, but that’s not my issue here. The issue is disclosure in advertising.

There is an ad encouraging a no vote on this proposition. It was sponsored by a group calling themselves Alaskans Against Government Mandates. Sounds like a grass roots group of Alaskans fighting big government right? However, if you read the fine print you will see that the top 2 contributors for this group are the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. This is an underhanded way to trick Alaskans into thinking other Alaskans are concerned about this proposition from the perspective of government interference when in reality it is outside groups trying to influence state politics.

I like seeing the list of top contributors on the ad. My concern is that individuals may be intimidated if they see their name on the ads. Politics has traditionally been anonymous. But with so many large, out of state organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and unions having a sway in the outcomes, groups should be compelled to publicly list them in advertising. It is also unlikely that many individuals will have funds to be a top contributor to major elections.

I have no problems with groups like that in elections.  They are among the largest opposers to this proposition and have been willing to put their name out against it in other places. But banding together under a misleading name like this is dishonest to say the least. It is coercion. Why don’t they just put their name on the ads? Are they afraid of the truth? Because of this, I am in favor of requirements for large contributors to be disclosed on all ads.

While your actual vote should be confidential, I don’t think it is an invasion of privacy to require this disclosure. It does not limit government involvement by individuals. Instead, it helps cut down on the misleading names if you read the fine print and find out they really are a cover for national organizations with a stake in the outcomes.

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