Tag Archives: 2008 General Election

Legislature Should Act to Limit Special Interest Money in Elections

Representative Sharon Nelson is the prime sponsor of HB 1289. HB1289 would limit campaign contributions to candidates for public lands commissioner in Washington State from persons or entities that are regulated by, contract with, lease to or sell commodities to the public lands commissioner.

They could not “directly or indirectly pay or use, or offer or consent, or agree to pay or use any money or thing of value for or in aid of any candidate for the office of public lands commissioner: nor for reimbursement or indemnification of any person for money or property so used.”

The bill is patterned after a similar law limiting insurance companies from spending money for the State Insurance Commissioner race.

HB 1289 is proposed because a big loophole exists in Washington State’s campaign finance laws. They make a mockery of the supposed intent to limit special interest money in elections. This was evident in the 2008 race to elect the Washington State Public Lands Commissioner this last November.

Our current state law limits campaign contributions to a statewide candidate to $1600 for the Primary and $1600 for the General election. And on first look that appears to be what happened. If you check the contributions given to Republican incumbent Doug Sutherland’s campaign and to Democrat challenger Peter Goldmark’s campaign from individuals and corporations everything appears fine. None exceed $3200 total. Everyone seems to have an equal limit in their contributing money to try to influence the outcome of the election.

There is however no limit in Washington State on the amount of money that can be contributed to so called independent PAC’s supporting a candidate. And companies and individuals who benefited from contracts with the Department of Natural Resources repeated what they did 4 years previously in helping to get Sutherland re-elected then.

According to the Washington Public Disclosure reports they contributed lavishly to a PAC called the Committee for Balanced Stewardship. which spent some $573,000 on mailings to voters across the State urging them to re-elect Sutherland. The PAC was funded by contributions of a few special interests that benefited by receiving contracts from the DNR for timber harvest and other resource extraction like gravel. Their contributions greatly exceeded the $3200 they could have given if they contributed it directly to Sutherland. The companies that exceeded the $3200 limit are listed below:

Weyerhauser, Federal Way $100,000
Rayonier, Jacksonville, FL $75,000
Hampton Affiliates, Portland, OR $75,000
Glacier Northwest, Seattle, WA $50,000
Sierra Pacific Industries, Redding, CA $25,000
Green Diamond Resource Company, Shelton, WA $25,000
Longview Timber Company, Longview, WA $25,000
Green Crow, Port Angeles, WA $25,000
Murray Pacific, Tacoma, WA $20,000
Stimson Lumber Company, Portland, OR $20,000
Port Blakely Tree Farms, $20,000
Olympic Resource Management, Poulsbo, WA $15,000
Green Diamond Resource Company, Shelton, WA $12,500
Simpson, Tacoma, WA $12,500
M&R Services, Inc $5000
Vaughn Brothers, Colville, WA $5000

According to Brad Shanon of the Olympian, business interests objected to HB1289 at a recent hearing before the Legislature. No surprise there since they were the ones working the loophole to their advantage.

It is an affront to the speech and participation rights of Washington businesses in the political process,” Kris Tefft of the Association of Washington Business said of the proposed bill. “It imposes content restrictions on one side of a political debate while leaving free rein on the other side.” …
The Washington Forest Protection Association and Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association also weighed in against the bill.”

The business conflict of interest was obvious in Sutherland’s granting Glacier Northwest the right to remove gravel from Maury Island in a marine protected area and his granting of geoduck rights to a company that used public tidelands that it hadn’t leased originally.

On Feb 10, 2009 Goldmark announced that he was going to review the lease granted to Glacier Northwest just before Sutherland left office. As noted by the Tacoma News Tribune:

“Goldmark said his staff will review whether the 30-year lease signed by Doug Sutherland with a subsidiary of Glacier Northwest is consistent with the long-term sustainability and health of Puget Sound.

“I have concerns about how this dock will impact the long-term sustainability and cleanup of Puget Sound,” Goldmark said. “When these leases are signed, Washingtonians expect due diligence, and we must review this deal to make sure it is in lockstep with the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Plan.”

The lease allows the company to build a barge-loading pier on state aquatic lands in the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve.”

Washington state has at least several ways it can try to reduce the influence of independent special interest money in elections. HB 1289 of course is one approach to deal with a specific office. But independent expenditures by special interests are not limited to the Public Lands Commissioner race.

The BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) has spent enormous amounts of money trying to influence the outcome of specific elections, like the Washington State Supreme Court races, Governor, Attorney General and other races.

Other states limit such independent contributions to PACs. Here are some examples:

Alaska $500 per individual; corporations and unions prohibited
Connecticut $500/calendar year per individual, corporation or union
Massachusetts $500/calendar year; corporations and unions prohibited
Rhode Island $1000/calendar year; corporations and unions prohibited
South Carolina $3500/calendar year per individual, corporation, or union
Vermont $2000/2 year/election cycle per individual, corporation or union
West Virginia $1000/election; corporations and unions prohibited

You can check out the complete list of limitations on contributions to PACs by going to the National Conference of State Legislatures webpage .

Another way to try to limit the influence of independent contributions by PACs is to look at public financing of campaigns. See Washington Public Campaigns. They are pushing a bill this year in the Washington State legislature for public financing of Washington State Supreme Court races, arguing that” justice should not be for sale.”

Seven of Dirty Dozen in Congress Defeated

The national League of Conservation Voters has been active for many year working to defeat anti-environmental members of Congress. Each Congressional election year since 1996 they target the worst environmental Congressmen as the Dirty Dozen.

Since 1996 over half of the candidates named to the Dirty Dozen list have been defeated.This year was no different – seven of their targeted anti-environmental Congressmen went down to defeat.

The losers included:

1. Senator Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina Senate race- 7% LCV lifetime voting average

winner Democrat Kay Hagan 53%/44%.

2. Rep. Tim Walberg – Michigan House race (MI-7) – 5% LCV lifetime rating

winner Democrat Mark Schauer 49%/46%.

3. former Rep Ann Northup, Kentucky House race (CD-03)- 7% LCV lifetime score

winner Rep John Yarmuth 59% /41%.

4. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Senate race – 1% LCV lifetime rating

winner Rep. Tom Udall – 96% LCV lifetime rating – 61%/39%.

5. Rep Joe Knollenberg, Michigan House race (MI-09)- 7% LCV lifetime rating

winner Gary Peters 52%/43%.

6. Dean Andal, California House race (CA-11) – 9% LCV lifetime voting rating

winner incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney 55%/45%.

7. Rep Bob Schaffer – Colorado Senate race – 5% LCV lifetime rating

winner Rep Mark Udall 53%/42%

Other targeted Dirty Dozen races were those of Rep Don Young of Alaska, Rep Sam Graves of Missouri, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, Sen James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator Mary Landreau of Louisiana.

Senator Steven is leading in Alaska 48%/47% (106,594 / 103,337) with the race still not called. Rep Young of Alaska had 114,043 votes to Berkowitz’s 97,104 for a 54%/44% vote.
(latest CNN results)

Peter Goldmark Cautiously Optimistic About Winning

In an e-mail sent out today by the Peter Goldmark for Public Lands Commissioner, Goldmark states:

We always knew this was going to be a close election. As of 3:30pm today, we have 50.89% of the votes. With many ballots left to be counted, especially in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Spokane Counties, we are cautiously optimistic about last night’s returns.”

The Secretary of State’s election website gives the following breakdown as of 5:05 PM today:

Peter Goldmark……861,395 votes …… 50.70%
Doug Sutherland….837,727 votes ….. 49.30%

A county by county breakdown show Goldmark winning in 6 counties by the following margins:

King County ……….63.17% to 36.83%
Jefferson County ……….59.78% to 40.22%
Whatcom County ……….54.14% to 45.86%
Snohomish County ………52.23% to 47.77%
Cowlitz County ……….52.19% to 47.81%
Okanogan County ………51.20% to 48.80%

Sutherland is slightly ahead in Pierce County by 52.77% to 47.23% and in Spokane County by 51.23% to 48.77%.

Obviously the outcome will be affected by the proportion of votes coming from each County that has not yet been counted. Any votes remaining from King County, which represents about a third of the state’s voters, heavily tilts the results towards Goldmark winning. Because return ballots mailed by voters yesterday may still not have been received by the counties, this race remains up in the air and will for at least a few more days.

King County election results were last updated at 2:30 P.M. today. They report that out of 1,108,128 registered voters in King County that they have counted, some 251,439 poll ballots were cast and some 194,753 absentee ballots have been counted. This total of 446,252 votes counted so far represents some 40.2% of the voters. Turnout is estimated to be around 80% or more so only about half the potential votes cast have been counted in King County as of now.

6:37 PM update 11/5/2008

Peter Goldmark …..867,784 …..50.68%
Doug Sutherland ….844,403 ….49.32%

Right now Goldmark leads by 23,381 votes.

McCain – Palin Drill Team Marching to Beat of Oil Drums

One of the obscenities of the recent Republican Convention was the chanting of “Drill Baby Drill.” Obscured by the novelty of a new dancing Republican puppet in the form of the previously nationally unknown Governor of Alaska, John McCain shamelessly continued to promote more of the antiquarian Bush Era perversion of drilling and ignoring the perilous future of being tied to oil, both national and international.

Continuing the oil economy drains American capital from being reinvested in our own country in alternative renewable energy. It continues to tie our future national economy to a ecologically dangerous fossil fuel industry. It promotes an industry that is profit motivated only and not concerned about American energy security or the impacts on consumer’s pocketbooks.

“Drill Baby Drill” should raise the hair on the back of any independence loving American because of its backward looking vision that obscures the future of the world in a haze of global warming gases. It ignores the need for the nation and the world to change their profligate burning of carbon based fuels. It is like trying to promote the use of manual typewriters in the computer age.

John McCain lacks vision in his support of the oil economy. He is a man so desperate to win the Presidency that he has thrown common sense out the window and is pandering to the least of our nation’s sensibilities and wasting precious time and resources needed to move to a post oil economy.

“Drill Baby Drill ” says John McCain is not really serious about attacking global warming. Just as his pandering proposal to drop the gas tax this summer was a shortsighted attempt to appeal to irrationality for votes, the idea that drilling for oil in America is some type of energy solution for the future is pandering to the lowest common denominator of selfishness and greed of the oil companies.

Our nation needs to come up with practical real solutions to find a mix of environmentally sound energy policies that also reinvest in America and American jobs rather than sending money to the Middle East and other countries so they can come back and buy up America.

The New York Times in a recent editorial entitled “John McCain’s Energy Follies” noted that “increasing oil production remains the centerpiece of his strategy” They stress that “a nation that uses one-quarter of the world’s oil while owning only 3 percent of its reserves cannot drill its way to happiness or self- sufficiency.”

Will McCain really make any effort to make a transition to a post carbon energy economy that emphasizes wind, solar, geothermal or energy efficiency?

We’ve all heard many campaign promises from candidates, broken once they are elected. For McCain it is possible to determine what he will do on energy not based on promises but on his past actions or inactions. That unfortunately does not bode well for a reasoned and enlightened change in America’s energy policies if McCain is elected President.

The record shows that John McCain missed critical votes for renewable energy while he was running for President. If you think John McCain is going to support renewable energy in any serious way consider the following written by Thomas Friedman for the New York Times. In a commentary entitled, Eight Strikes and You’re Out“,

” …on July 30, that the Senate was voting for the eighth time in the past year on a broad, vitally important bill — S. 3335 — that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems.

Both the wind and solar industries depend on these credits — which expire in December — to scale their businesses and become competitive with coal, oil and natural gas. Unlike offshore drilling, these credits could have an immediate impact on America’s energy profile.

Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote.”

Actions speak louder than any words. It would be a mistake to count on John McCain leading us to a renewable energy future. “Drill Baby Drill” and free market economics seem to be his political philosophy. The free market economy has been great for the giant oil corporations in America but a disaster for energy independence and lessening global warming impacts. Voting for McCain would be a vote for continuing things as they are. Now is the time when we need to change to a post carbon energy future. McCain isn’t going to do that.

King County Charter Amendments on November Ballot Need Scrutiny

Every 10 years King County in Washington State reviews its charter and has a citizens panel recommend changes. The Charter Review Commission came up with a series of amendments earlier this year that they recommended to the King County Council to be placed on the November 4, 2008 ballot.

The King County Council ultimately voted to place 6 Charter Amendments on the November 4, 2008 ballot and will consider additional ones for a vote next year.

In addition two citizen initiatives proposing Charter Amendments are on the November ballot. Initiative 25 for a nonpartisan elected elections official is now Charter Amendment 1 and Initiative 26 requiring that King County elected officials be non partisan is now Charter Amendment 8.

Initiative 25 (now Charter Amendment 1) is opposed by the Municipal League of King County:
“The integrity of the elections process demands independence and professional management in the elections function of government. Consistent with the Municipal League position on record that leadership positions in King County government which require administrative and management expertise should be appointed, we oppose making the position an elected position….

The League of Women Voters of King County also opposes Charter Amendment 1.

As noted in a Seattle Times article last year if Charter Amendment 1 passes there will be a costly special election to elect the new Elections Director in February 2009. There will be no primary vote for this office.

Initiative 26 (now Charter Amendment 8) was a Republican sponsored measure intended to hide party identification. Majority Rules Blog opposes Charter Amendment 8 because it will make it more difficult to determine what political philosophy a candidate actually supports. It is an attempt by Republicans, who paid signature gatherers to place this proposed amendment on the ballot, to shed their party label and hide their political positions behind campaign slogans and rhetoric that obscure their real political goals.

Charter Amendment 8 will make it more difficult to know where candidates stand on issues. The reality is that no Republican now is forced to run as a Republican under our current voting system of the top 2 candidates going on to the general election. No one is required to state a party affiliation now. Charter Amendment 8 is not needed and should be voted down.

It is also important to note that Charter Amendment 8 also sets up a non-partisan redistricting commission. Redistricting now is done by a Committee of 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats who jointly select a 5th member. If Charter Amendment 8 passes and so called non-partisan members are selected, the current political balance may well be lost and the commission dominated by members of 1 party or the other depending on the appointment process.

An 84 page King County staff report on proposed charter amendments 2 – 7 is at http://mkcclegisearch.metrokc.gov/attachments/31053.pdf

There is currently an updated link at the King County Elections site to all the ordinances passed by the King County Council that also provides more detail on what the charter amendments do. Pro and Con statements are present as well as the actual text of the ordinances.

I have also provided links below to each of the charter amendments if you want to check more detail, pro and con statements and read the actual ordinances on a specific charter amendment

King County Charter Amendment No. 1

Elected Elections Director

Shall the King County Charter be amended to provide that the position of county director of elections be created as a nonpartisan elected office?


King County Charter Amendment No. 2

Prohibiting Discrimination

Shall Section 840 of the King County Charter be amended to add disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression to the prohibited grounds for discrimination in county employment and county contracting, and to limit the prohibition against discrimination in county contracting to contracts with nongovernmental entities, as provided in Ordinance No. 16204?


King County Charter Amendment No. 3

Regional Committees

Shall Sections 230.10, 270.20 and 270.30 of the King County Charter be amended to reduce the number of county council members on regional committees, establish a vice chair position on regional committees, authorize the regional policy committee to adopt its own work program, add authority for regional committees to initiate legislation, modify regional committee procedures, and authorize the addition of nonvoting members to the water quality committee, as provided in Ordinance No. 16205?


King County Charter Amendment No. 4

Additional Qualifications for Elected Officials

Shall Section 630 of the King County Charter be amended to authorize the county council to establish additional qualifications for separately elected officials who head executive departments, as provided in Ordinance No. 16206?


King County Charter Amendment No. 5

Establishing Forecast Council and Office of Economic and Financial Analysis

Shall the King County Charter be amended to require the establishment of a forecast council and an office of economic and financial analysis, as provided in Ordinance No. 16207?


Budget Deadlines

Shall Sections 410 and 420 of the King County Charter be amended to impose deadlines that are twenty days earlier than existing deadlines for county agencies to submit budget information to the county executive and for the county executive to present a proposed budget to the county council, as provided in Ordinance No. 16208?


King County Charter Amendment No. 7

Charter Amendment by Citizen Initiative

Shall King County Charter Section 800 be amended to establish a new process for citizens to directly propose amendments to the King County Charter and to increase the signature threshold for citizen-initiated charter amendments from 10% to 20% of the votes cast in the last election for county executive, as provided in Ordinance No. 16221?


King County Charter Amendment No. 8

Nonpartisan Elections

Shall the King County Charter be amended to make the offices of King county executive, King county assessor and King county council nonpartisan, and to establish the nonpartisan selection of districting committee members?


Fuse Washington recommends support for Charter Amendments 2-7 and No votes on Charter Amendments 1 and 8.

This post was revised and updated on Oct 27, 2008 to add more information.

November 4, 2008 Washington State Ballot Measures

11/05/2008 8 AM Update:

Initiative 985 has been decisively defeated by the Washington voters while Initiative 1000 and 1029 have been passed by wide margins.

Initiative 985 41% yes/59% no
Initiative 1000 59% yes/41% no
Initiative 1029 74% yes/26% no

For latest update and specific vote numbers go to the Washington State Secretary of State’s election webpage for statewide initiatives.

previous post:

Three statewide initiatives will be on the November 4, 2008 Washington State ballot.

Majority Rules Blog recommends you vote:

No on Initiative 985
Yes on Initiative 1000
Yes on Initiative 1029

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 985 concerns transportation.

This measure would open high-occupancy vehicle lanes to all traffic during specified hours, require traffic light synchronization, increase roadside assistance funding, and dedicate certain taxes, fines, tolls and other revenues to traffic-flow purposes.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would: open high-occupancy vehicle lanes to all vehicles Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday nights from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 a.m. Monday; require traffic light synchronization, and mandate increased funding for roadside assistance. Certain existing revenues, including 15% of state sales and use taxes on vehicles, certain traffic infraction penalties, and certain tolls would be dedicated to traffic-flow purposes.

No on 985 – http://www.noon985.com/

BALLOT MEASURE I-1000 (Death With Dignity)
Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerns allowing certain terminally ill competent adults to obtain lethal prescriptions.

This measure would permit terminally ill, competent, adult Washington residents, who are medically predicted to have six months or less to live, to request and self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would permit terminally ill, competent, adult Washington residents medically predicted to die within six months, to request and self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician. The measure requires two oral and one written request, two physicians to diagnose the patient and determine the patient is competent, a waiting period, and physician verification of an informed patient decision. Physicians, patients and others acting in good faith compliance would have criminal and civil immunity.

Yes on I-1000 http://itsmydecision.org/

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 1029 concerns long-term care services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

This measure would require long-term care workers to be certified as home care aides based on an examination, with exceptions; increase training and criminal background check requirements; and establish disciplinary standards and procedures.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
Beginning January 1, 2010, this measure would require certification for long-term care workers for the elderly and persons with disabilities, requiring a written examination, increased and additional criminal background checks. Continuing education would be required in order to retain certification. Disciplinary standards and procedures would be applied to long-term care workers who are certified as home care aides. Certain workers would be exempt based on prior employment, training or other circumstances.

Yes on I-1029 – http://www.yeson1029.org/

Note – State Ballot Measures Nov 2008 – for actual text go to http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/people.aspx?y=2008

Democrats Asleep at the Wheel Regarding Initiative 26

Democrats in King County have been asleep at the wheel and are about to crash unless they snap awake. The Republicans under Peter Von Reichbauer and Republican dollars have been busy trying to change the electoral landscape in their favor by putting Initiative 26 before voters.

Financial backers of both Dino Rossi and the BIAW are behind this measure.

Initiative 26 would be passed by a 2 step process. It is both on the August 19, 2008 Primary and the November 4, 2008 General Election ballots. It would amend the King County Charter to make the offices of King County Executive, King County Assessor and King County Council members nonpartisan.

The sleeper in all this is that it would also make the selection of the re-redistricting committee members nonpartisan. That means you would no longer have a balance between the two major parties but would have no idea of where these members stood politically. These members would draw the boundaries of the council districts.

Looking at who funded this measure to get on the ballot tells you who thinks they would benefit. As Josh Feit wrote on the Slog in March in a post entitled “Nonpartisan My Ass”:

“Proof that the idea is a GOP ploy: Citizens for Independent Government (the group pushing the initiative) has collected $145,000 and, according to finance records, more than 90 percent of the money comes from three donors: George Rowley, John Stanton, and John Hennessy.

Rowley, CEO of Rowley Properties, is one of the biggest supporters of Republican candidates and issues in this state. Dating back to 2002, his donations have included: $8,000 to Dino Rossi; $95,000 to the $172,250 to the Washington State Republican Party; $60,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee; $28,000 to the King County Republican Central Committee, General; $125,850 to the King County Republican Central Committee; and $6,000 to John Carlson in 2000.

Telecom mogul Stanton has an equally impressive list of contributions to conservative recipients: $5,300 to Rossi; $255,500 to the Washington State Republican Party; $100,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee; $30,750 to the King County Republican Central Comm Non-exempt; $25,000 to the BIAW’s PAC, ChangePAC; and $4,800 to John Carlson in 2000.

Nuprecon CEO Hennessy: $6,100 to Dino Rossi; $115,000 to ChangePAC (and ChangePAC 2004); $5,000 to the Washington State Republican Party; $10,000 to the King County Repub; and $3,400 to Carlson in 2000.


So the backers of I-26 are major supporters of Dino Rossi , John Carlson and the state Republican Party as well as the BIAW – the Building Industry Association of Washington which is behind Change PAC.

The Republicans know that voters in King County reject the politics of George Bush and Karl Rove, the divisiveness of politics like those Newt Gingrich supported and the corruption of politicians like Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. So they want to hide behind a nonpartisan label and not tell the voters what their political beliefs are.

Initiative 26 isn’t needed. Any politician can now run as an independent on the ballot, particularly under the Top 2 Primary System. Republicans do not need to declare they are Republicans if they are so afraid of the label and ashamed of their party.

But Initiative 26 wants to also prevent Democrats running as Democrats by prohibiting them from being identified as Democrats on the ballot. They want to deny voters the right to know when they vote which party best represents the views of the candidate. Voters will be less informed as to the political philosophy that a candidate supports. This will allow more Republicans an opportunity to hide their true political leanings behind a non-partisan label and sneak into office with a barrage of money from the BIAW or the Republican Party or Chamber of Commerce.

I-26 takes away voter choice and allows for big spending campaigns by special interests to mask a candidate’s true politics. We have a system that works. The voters have put Democrats in charge of the County Council and this is the Republicans campaign to try to regain control by not telling the voters the political party that the candidate belongs to.

Vote No on Initiative 26 Part 1 on August 19, and November 4, 2008! Part 1 asks”Should either of these proposed ordinances to place a charter amendment before the voters in November 2008 be adopted?”

In case question one wins you have a second chance If you want to retain some ability to id candidates by party. Vote for the King County Council’s alternative to I-26 in the second part of the ballot question.

Part 2 reads “Irregardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of the proposed ordinances is adopted, which one should it be?” Vote for the Council-proposed alternative.