Donations continue to pour in for Miller, Murkowski in Alaska
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By Sean Cockerham and Erika Bolstad
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Joe Miller and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski have raised a half million dollars since Election Day as Miller continues to dispute the voting results in the Alaska Senate race.
The bulk of Miller's post-election cash is coming through the political action committee of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., while oil and gas industry groups gave thousands of dollars for Murkowski's legal bills.
Miller's latest campaign finance report showed he had more than $900,000 campaign cash in the bank through Nov. 22 — over two weeks after voters went to the polls. About three quarters of that appears to be money that Miller had left over on Election Day. He's raised another roughly $250,000 since the Nov. 2 election.
Miller's post-election cash has mainly come through DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. Miller reported just a few donations from Alaskans since the Nov. 2 election.
Miller is still raising money and the website for DeMint's political action committee features a call for donors to "Support the Joe Miller Recount Fund."
Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said he believes the campaign will have enough money to take its challenge of the election results all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
"Of course if it becomes protracted there would be more fundraising that would occur," DeSoto said.
Superior Court Judge William Carey is expected to rule Friday on Miller's challenge of how the state counted the ballots. Even if the courts throw out all the Murkowski votes challenged by Miller's ballot observers, Murkowski would still win.
The Miller campaign also hopes to pick up more votes in a hand recount and take away some Murkowski votes in what it claims are additional irregularities with the voting. Murkowski launched the write-in campaign after Miller defeated her in the Aug. 24 Republican primary.
Both sides expected the legal fight. Murkowski launched a legal expense fund within days of the Nov. 2 election and flew to Washington, D.C., to raise money.
Murkowski's post-election fundraising brought in over $250,000, with the bulk of the big checks coming from political action committees supported by energy interests, including nuclear.
Those donations include $5,000 from the Conoco Phillips political action committee and reflect Murkowski's sway as the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.
Maryland's Constellation Energy of PAC donated $1,000, Virginia's Dominion another $2,500, Florida Power and Light $5,000, NRG Energy $2,500, and Exelon of Chicago contributed $5,000.
The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America gave $2,000 and Sempra Energy $2,500.
The Senate race was a big-money contest.
Murkowski raised more than $4.2 million in the past six years for her campaign account. That doesn't count the Alaska native corporations that put $1.7 million into a separate effort this fall for Murkowski after her loss to Miller in August's Republican primary.
Miller collected more than $3 million since announcing his run last spring.
His latest disclosures show he used campaign cash to pay himself back all but $7,303 of the $103,900 in personal funds that he reported lending his campaign.
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Miller has disclosed no payments to Drop Zone Security, his private security team that handcuffed a journalist in one of the defining moments of the fall campaign. He also didn't report the firm volunteering its time to him as an in-kind contribution.
An Army spokesman said that the two soldiers who worked the security detail had volunteered their services. It is unknown whether Drop Zone itself provided free service to Miller's campaign, but its owner, William Fulton, clearly supported Miller: his store had a huge Miller sign outside.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Election Commission said federal law allows a professional services provider to volunteer on a campaign and the person's time doesn't have to be reported as a contribution, so long as someone else didn't pay the provider.
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Miller appears to have left about $700,000 unspent campaign money as of Election Day. But that doesn't necessarily mean he could have used all that to win over voters and missed the chance. He'd already started fundraising for the expected post-election ballot fight and over $220,000 of that money came into his campaign within the last two days before the election.
Democrat Scott McAdams, who did not accept money from political action committees, raised about $1.3 million for his third-place campaign.
(c) 2010, Anchorage Daily News (Anchorage, Alaska).
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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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