As of this week the Building Industry Association of Washington has contributed over 70% of the $256,000 being used to target voters to vote for the BIAW’s two hand picked Washington State Supreme Court candidates. Giving over $180,000 to “Walking for Washington” means they are for this one effort alone contributing $90,000 each to help elect their two endorsed candidates. And they are not done.
The BIAW hates Washington State’s Growth Management Act that protects our communities from urban sprawl. They feel it gets in their way of allowing developers to build whatever they want wherever they want. This year they are running two candidates, John Groen who is challenging Chief Justice Alexander and Steve Johnston who is challenging Justice Susan Owens.
The Washington State Legislature earlier this year passed campaign contribution limits after the BIAW alone spent spent more money two years ago electing James Johnson to the State Supreme Court than Johnson’s opponent, Mary Kay Becker, raised in total.
The Washington State Legislature limited individual campaign contributions to candidates to $1400 in the primary and $2800 in the general. After the bill was passed but before it went into effect, all the Supreme Court candidates except Groen voluntarily abided by the limits. Groen went on a fundraising rampage, collecting over $100,000 in contributions over the limit.
The law has been in effect since June but the BIAW has chosen to ignore the spirit of the law trying to limit special interest influence in elections, by ignoring it. They feel that they can do whatever they want and are raising money independently to influence the election.
The BIAW is on a tear to buy the Washington State Supreme Court. So far they have been the pivotal power putting two of their candidates on the Court already -Richard Sanders and Jim Johnson.
The Washington State Legislature made a big mistake by not also limiting campaign contributions to the same $1400 primary, $1400 general election maximum for donations to PACS that spend independently of the official candidate’s campaign committee. The contribution limits should apply to any contribution supporting or opposing a candidate whether given directly to the campaign or indirectly to a so called independent PAC.
If the purpose of contribution limitations is to limit special interest influence in elections which can overwhelm candidates opponents, the BIAW has shown the Legislature their arrogance and self righteousness. They have given both the Legislature and the voters the finger. To them money is power and fair elections are not something they abide by. Winning is everything. That is why the Legislature needs to fix the law they just passed.
Two years ago the BIAW spent hundreds of thousands of dollars helping Republican Rob McKenna get elected Washington State Attorney General. On election night McKenna personally thanked the BIAW even though they were supposibly independent expenditures.
Meanwhile voters this year need to learn about the candidates running for State Supreme Court. Voters need to vote for incumbent Gerry Alexander over John Groen in the primary. They need to vote for Susan Owens over Steve Johnson. The third Supreme Court race is incumbent Tom Chambers, who is also being opposed by an unqualified so called developers rights advocate Jeanette Burrage.
Alexander’s and Chambers’ race will be decided in the Sept 19th Primary because they only have one opponent .State law says that for judges whoever gets the majority in the primary wins. This is another law that the Legislature needs to fix because it doesn’t make sense to have State Supreme Court races decided by primary voters rather than general election voters.