By: Ellie Halfacre
When Wes Keller ran for re-election to the Alaska House of Representatives in 2015, his brother-in-law David Thompson tried to support his candidacy and donate $500 to the campaign. However, due to §15.13.072(e)(3) of Alaska’s elections statute, he was unable to do so. Under this law, Keller’s campaign had already received the maximum dollar amount it could accept from nonresidents—$3,000—according to the state’s restrictions on campaign contributions. Thompson, a Wisconsin resident, sued, challenging Alaska’s campaign finance laws under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
The law that barred Thompson’s donation, §15.13.072, specified several fundraising limitations on out-of-state donors: candidates could not accept more than $20,000 a year from nonresident donors for gubernatorial campaigns, $5,000 a year for state senate campaigns, and $3,000 a year for campaigns for state representative, or municipal or other office.