The Washington State Legislature has taken a giant step by passing legislation to expand the campaign contribution limits put in place by Initiative 134. It has added the Washington State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
It also adds municipal and superior court and port commissioner races in counties with over 200,000 registered voters. This expands campaign contribution limits to these races in 5 counties. As of 2004 according to the Secretary of State’s office website the following counties had over 200,000 registered voters.
What the legislation doesn’t do is limit individual contributions to PAC’s. This is strange because this still leaves a giant loophole in the law. As I noted in a previous blog on Feb. 23, 2006:
“The BIAW spent some $569,009 of so called independent PAC money helping elect Rob McKenna Washington State Attorney General. Giving a contribution directly to McKenna’s committee would have limited them to some $2700. Spending it separately from the candidate’s committee put no limits on how much could be raised from individual donors. That’s why on election night McKenna personally thanked them for helping get him elected. Independent. Yeh right. Also of note – the Republican Leadership PAC WA spent some $1,265,000 and the Realtor’s Quality of Life PAC some $101,862. Meanwhile you and I, if we had it, were limited to giving $2700 maximum in the race. Sounds fair right. This needs to change!”
Unfortunately the right wing has formed one of these so called independent PAC’s to help elect their kind of judges. Now instead of giving money directly to their favorite candidate for the Washington State Supreme Court, all they need to do is spend this money “independently”. There will be no legal limit on the size of the contributions they accept.
It’s time for the public to ask that they also abide by the limit on individual contributions.