Oil industry continues to pump millions into anti-tax campaign, supporters boast grassroot support

North Slope pipeline. (Photo by Joshua Stearns/Flickr Creative Commons)

The campaign filings for the groups supporting and opposing the Ballot Measure 1 oil tax initiative tells a story that we’re all familiar with: The industry-backed anti-tax group has a tremendous cash advantage with nearly fifteen times the money raised by the pro-tax group.

The industry-backed OneAlaska group raised more than $6 million in the second quarter, according to a report filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Friday covering the fundraising period running from April 8 to July 7, for a running total of $9,865,121, through a handful of large-dollar contributions.

The list of contributions includes a $3 million contribution from BP Alaska and four additional deposits of around $660,000 from ConocoPhillips Alaska, ExxonMobil, Hilcorp Energy and BP Alaska. During this period, just three contributions come from two individuals totaling $325.

The bulk of the group’s funding is going to ads on television, radio and social media.

Meanwhile, the pro-tax Vote Yes For Alaska’s Fair Share has a running total of $664,330.56 raised with just $232,906.81 coming during the second quarter reporting period, according to their report filed with APOC. In a news release announcing their figures on Friday, the pro-tax group highlighted that it has 393 individual donors backing the effort.

“It’s telling that none of the people who are receiving free advertising for their businesses or allowed the opposition to use their names will put their money where their mouths are,” said campaign manager David Dunsmore in a prepared statement. “Our opponents are fighting to preserve tax breaks for some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, while Alaskans are fighting to save our state.”

The Fair Share Act’s biggest donor is its campaign chairman Robin Brena, an attorney who spearheaded municipalities’ successful legal efforts challenging the undervaluation of the trans Alaska pipeline system, who gave a $50,000 cash infusion during the latest round along with more in non-monetary contributions of his law firm’s staff time.

The Fair Share Act proposes raising taxes on large, legacy fields in Alaska—specifically Prudhoe Bay, Kuparuk and Alpine—while also implementing other measures that would push for greater transparency in tax filings.

The measure has faced legal challenges after the group collected the necessary signatures to appear on the general election ballot. Recently, a superior court judge ordered the state to correct an intentionally confusing ballot summary—finding Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, a former oil company employee, had unfairly biased the summary.

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