Sitka Conservation Society
Sep 18 2014

Stand Up to Corporate Influence!

Sitkans hold a fake check made out to ConocoPhillips, BP, and Exxon at an SB 21 Rally on April 4, 2014.

This year’s primary election was one for the record books. Financial record books, that is. Over the last few months, Alaskans witnessed the most expensive primary campaign in state history. Where is all this money coming from? Corporations. And not just any corporations – some of the richest corporations on earth.

In order to secure their billion dollar tax break, oil companies contributed nearly $15 million to the Vote No (on Ballot Measure 1) campaign. According to campaign finance reports published by the state of Alaska, the top six contributors to the Vote No campaign were BP Exploration Alaska Inc. ($3,625,408), ExxonMobil ($3,606,132), ConocoPhillips Alaska ($2,541,584), ConocoPhillips ($1,471,077), Repsol ($729,432), and Chevron ($300,000). Less than 25 individual Alaskans contributed to the campaign. The Vote Yes campaign, on the other hand, received financial contributions from over 1,000 individual Alaskans.

The troubling statistics continue. Stockpiled with big oil money, the Vote No campaign spent $170 per vote. The Vote Yes campaign, which relied primarily on contributions from individual Alaskan donors, spent $8.

This is an example of corporations asserting undue influence in the political process. In a country that calls itself a democracy, corporations should never be allowed to pay their way into the political system. In Alaska, however, they are.

How do we stop corporations from dominating Alaska politics? We stand up to them. We use our individual and collective voices. We form coalitions and citizen movements that demand corporations to serve the public good, not the Gods of Profit.

Leading up to the primary election, the Sitka Conservation Society mobilized Alaskans across the state to take action on Ballot Measure 1. We made phone calls, knocked on doors, distributed lawn signs, and had meaningful conversations with community members about what’s at stake when corporations dominate our political system. Many Sitkans voiced their concerns about SB 21 via radio waves and newsprint. A giant thank you to Steve Paustian, Mary Beth Nelson, Cindy Litman, Libby Stortz, and Anthony Guevin for submitting Letters to the Editor about the importance of repealing the oil tax giveaway.

Our efforts paid off.  While the repeal failed statewide (52.5 percent of Alaskan voters voted No), Sitkans voted 3:1 in favor of the repeal. On Election day, some 1,315 Sitkans checked the “yes” box, compared to only 448 people who checked “no.” Every single precinct in the district voted in favor of the repeal.

What do these results reveal? They show us that we Alaskans are deeply divided on how we should manage our natural resources. They show us that thousands of Alaskans (90,150 to be exact) are willing to vote for oil company tax breaks, leaving less money for the state to fund public schools, hospitals, and necessary public services. But they also show us that thousands of Alaskans (nearly 82,000 voters) are deeply concerned about the excess role corporations play in the management of our natural resources.

The oil in our state ground belongs to the people of Alaska. We, the people of Alaska, must continue to mobilize against corporate oil giants that take our oil without investing in our state. Join us in our campaign to fight corporate influence and keep our natural resources in public hands.

To get involved or receive more information, email sophie@sitkawild.org or call 907-747-7509.

Corporate spending in Alaska’s 2014 primary reached record levels. The Vote No campaign spent $170 per vote, compared to the Vote Yes campaign which spent $8.

Sophie

About Sophie

Sophie Nethercut, Tongass Community Organizer, was bewitched by Alaska in 2009 and has yet to break free of her mystical spell. Originally from Minnesota, Sophie graduated from Yale University with degrees in History and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. While at Yale, she taught courses in New Haven public schools, coordinated local elections, worked as a community organizer, and sang in an African music ensemble. Her academic work took her away from New England to Ecuador, where she conducted HIV research, as well as to Spain, Brazil, South Africa, and Vietnam, where she studied urban planning and sustainable development. She has also worked as a canoe guide in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota and saw firsthand how wild places can transform lives. Sophie is thrilled to be part of the SCS team and is looking forward to meeting new people, eating lots of salmon, and exploring the Tongass whenever possible. Come say hi!

View all posts by Sophie →

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Keep up to date on all of the issues. Check out "The Southeaster" Blog.

  • Hungry for Huckleberry Pie, Venison Stew, or Fresh Greens? Come to the Wild Foods Potluck Nov. 2!
  • Stand Up to Corporate Influence!
  • Kayaking Kootznoowoo: Report on SCS’s Final Wilderness Trip
  • Encouraging Local Natural Resource Stewardship on the Tongass: Kennel Creek
  • Teaching the Alaska way of Life: 4-H in Sitka
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