A new group, Alaskans Standing Together, announced that they would spend nearly $600,000 on ads for Sen. Lisa Murkowski — and Republican senate candidate Joe Miller isn’t happy about it.
Alaskans Standing Together is partially funded by Alaskan Native Corporations (ANC), who currently are eligible for no-bid federal contracts, thanks to their “economically disadvantaged status.” The Associated Press reported last week that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) is planning to introduce legislation that would strip the corporations of their no-bid status for projects costing more than $5.5 million in goods and $3.5 million in services.
The Washington Post did a round-up of some ANC contracts that shows the substantial amount of money at stake.
McCaskill is arguing that the programs do not benefit shareholders, and Alaskan Natives (non-Alaskan Natives may lead the corporations) as they were implemented to do. She also has noted that fraud and abuse are present.
Murkowski has spoken out against any changes to the government’s current preferential treatment of the ANCs. In a statement quoted by the AP, she said, “I would oppose and fight any legislation that strips Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, and Native Hawaiians of the contracting preferences afforded to them. We must reform the program to ensure it works the way it was intended. Completely removing these contracting preferences would set back the progress we have made to address the poverty experienced by our nation’s first peoples.”
“Only in Washington DC could companies considered ‘disadvantaged’ and receive billions in no-bid contracts and turn around and commit to spending millions of dollars trying to buy an election,” Miller retorted in a statement. “This is business as usual for the corporations and for Senator Murkowski. She has opposed changes to the disadvantaged business program and she is getting ‘rewarded’ for that opposition.”