Filings show group opposing oil tax initiative raised $18.5M

A man speaks in front of a blue banner
Jim Jansen, chairman of freight transporter Lynden Inc., addresses the crowd at a OneAlaska rally on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 at Delta Constructors in Anchorage. OneAlaska was formed to fight the proposed oil tax initiative. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Industry opponents of a ballot measure to raise oil taxes have donated most of the money given to any Alaska political campaigns at the state level this year. 

The group OneAlaska – Vote No on One raised nearly $18.5 million through Oct. 2, according to reports filed earlier this week with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. 

The state records don’t include the races for president and Congress. 

OneAlaska has raised more than 10 times as much as Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share, the largest group supporting the oil tax measure.

The second-largest amount of donations has been from groups backed by wealthy individuals outside Alaska who support a ballot measure to overhaul elections. They’ve been the biggest funders for the group Yes on 2 Better Elections. It has raised nearly $5 million, more than 10 times the amount raised by Defend Alaska Elections – Vote No on 2. 

In races for the Alaska Legislature, the five candidates who raised the most between early August and early October were all Democrats or independents running for seats held by Republicans. 

The candidate who raised the most in this time period is Calvin Schrage, an independent who’s the Democratic nominee for an Anchorage House seat. He’s running against Rep. Mel Gillis. 

Schrage raised $50,550 during the time period covered by the most recent filings, while Gillis raised $7,250. 

Schrage’s largest contributors have been the House Democratic Campaign Committee and labor unions. Schrage says his campaign has broad support, noting that he received more than 600 donations. 

“And I think it just shows that, you know, we’re really doing the hard work of getting out and building a campaign that’s based on our community here,” he said.

Statewide, Democrats and independents raised more funds than Republicans since early August, according to reports filed earlier this week. 

Among the two best-funded candidates in competitive races, Democrats and independents running against Republicans raised $691,982 from Aug. 9 to Oct. 2. Republicans and candidates challenging seats currently held by Democrats and independents raised $491,958. 

However, Republicans held an advantage in cash on hand in races for seats currently held by the party. Republicans competing for Republican-held seats had $466,293 in cash on hand, compared with $390,879 held by their challengers. Cash on hand includes money raised before Aug. 9 and accounts for spending.