July 19, 2018

By Jen Johnson
Digital Director, Represent.Us

Alaska just proved that the people can pressure politicians to pass strong anti-corruption reforms: After a grassroots coalition led by Represent.Us members in Alaska collected more than 45,000 signatures in support of an Anti-Corruption Act, the Alaska legislature caved in and passed HB 44, a bill based on the Act.

The new law cracks down on lobbyist gifts, conflicts of interest, and taxpayer-funded foreign travel.

The major government accountability overhaul just signed by Governor Walker cracks down on lobbyist gifts, conflicts of interest, and taxpayer-funded foreign travel.

Here's what the new law does:

  • Strengthens conflict-of-interest rules. Requires legislators to declare conflicts of interest before voting, and to excuse themselves from voting when they or a member of their family has a financial conflict of interest.
  • Restricts lobbyist gifts to legislators. Lobbyist-gift loopholes allowed special interests to buy lavish meals and alcoholic drinks for politicians. Now those loopholes are gone—sorry, lobbyists!
  • No budget, no pay. In 2017, Alaska legislators collected an average of $37,000 each in overtime when they failed to finish their job on time and pass a budget before the legislative session ended. Now they'll no longer get that daily, taxpayer-funded per diem when they fail to pass a budget on time.
  • Foreign travel restrictions. That's right—no more taxpayer-funded international trips for politicians unless they can prove the trip serves a legislative purpose.

Politicians only passed it because of significant pressure from the voters

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This wasn't the first time politicians brought anti-corruption reform to the table—but in the past, the legislature always stalled instead of passing anything. What was different this time? It's no coincidence that politicians passed this law right after voters submitted more than 45,000 signatures to put the Alaska Anti-Corruption Act to a vote in November.

The campaign to put an anti-corruption measure on the November ballot was led by Represent.Us leaders and volunteers, who went door to door during the Alaska winter to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.

84% of Alaska voters supported the measure, a clear indication that voters were tired of inaction in the legislature. The tide had turned and state politicians had no choice but to finally pass anti-corruption reform or fear losing their seats in November.

Alaska's Win is the Latest in a Landslide Year for Anti-Corruption Reforms

This November, Americans have a chance to pass more impactful anti-corruption reforms than we've seen since Watergate. And voters have already passed huge victories on anti-gerrymandering in Ohio and ranked choice voting in Maine.

There are more than a dozen more campaigns coming up that Represent.Us members are fueling.

To find one near you, check out our Anti-Corruption Movement Map: