What can Walker do with all his contributions?

Published: Oct. 23, 2018 at 7:05 PM AKDT
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Now that Gov. Bill Walker says he won’t seek re-election, what happens to hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s raised?

Heather Hebdon, the executive director of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, said state law has the answers. Walker's campaign could donate it to a political party or a municipal, state, or federal government; to a tax-exempt charitable organization (as long as he or an immediate family member doesn’t run it); to close out his campaign; save it for a future campaign, or refund it to donors.

The law doesn’t allow him to give campaign money to another campaign or to an independent super PAC.

The Walker campaign doesn’t yet know how much of a surplus it has, says campaign director John-Henry Heckendorn. Even if it doesn’t owe money, it has obligations — to current staff members, landlords and to advertisers.

The law says Walker has until Feb. 1 to decide what to do with surplus money.

Heckendorn said there are problems with two of the main suggestions under state law.

Walker has been attacked by the Republican Party and he’s thrown his support to Democrat Mark Begich. But many of his contributors are conservative Republicans opposed to Begich — so would it be fair to give their money to the Democratic Party? Heckendorn wondered.

The law on refunding money says it can be pro-rated among contributors. Suppose that only turns out to 10 cents on the dollar, Heckendorn hypothesized, would it be as fair to give a billionaire 10 percent of a $1,000 contribution to Walker and his lieutenant governor as it would to return money to a pensioner who forked over $50? Could those contributors even be tracked down, and would they accept a return of their money?

To avoid those complications, Walker may just use the money and already purchased television time to thank supporters, Heckendorn said.