PDC reports filed for March show that the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) has just dumped $100,000 into their Initiative 1067 campagn. Word is that they have hired Roy Ruffino’s Citizen Solutions of Lacey, WA to start collecting signatures using paid signature gatherers. Citizen Solutions has run previous paid signature campaigns for Tim Eyman’s initiative efforts.
As David Ammons of the Washington Secretary of State’s Office notes in his blog From Our Corner, the initiative is:
“aimed at ending the state-run workers’ comp insurance program, which covers 2.5 million workers with coverage for work-related injuries, including lost-time compensation, medical care and other services.
The BIAW initiative, filed with the state Elections Division …would transition the state from the government-run plan to a privatized system. Currently the state covers 171,000 employers, but some of the larger companies are allowed to self-insure.”
Here is the official ballot title and summary for Initiative 1067:
Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1067 concerns industrial insurance.
Concise Description: This measure would establish a joint legislative task force to develop legislation that would eliminate Washington’s state-run industrial insurance fund by December 1, 2011, with recommendations to the legislature by February 1, 2011.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would establish a joint legislative task force on industrial insurance privatization consisting of sixteen members: eight legislators, five representatives of business, two representatives of insurers, and one representative of labor. The task force would be directed to develop proposed legislation that would eliminate the state industrial insurance fund by December 1, 2011. Task force recommendations would be provided to the legislature by February 1, 2011. The legislature would provide staff and budget support.
One obvious negative impact for workers in this proposal is obvious in the proposed task force mentioned above. Besides 8 Legislators: the committee has 5 business representatives, 2 insurers and only 1 labor representative. Yet the issue is about providing worker’s compensation for injured or sick workers. This committee composition immediately sets up a bias against workers.
David Groves of the Washington State Labor Council writing in Outside the Echo Chamber notes that Washington State has the fifth lowest employer costs of any state.
“One of the most persistent myths about Washington state’s business climate is that our workers’ compensation costs are higher than in most other states. The fact that many employers and public policymakers believe this to be true is another indication of the power and resonance of the negative internal rhetoric about our competitiveness.
….In fact, the gap between the truth and the negative rhetoric about our workers’ compensation costs is shocking. Not only do we have comparatively low premiums, by the national measure most often cited, the workers’ compensation costs to employers in Washington state are the fifth lowest of any state in the nation.
Despite these low costs, Washington’s model state-run system is able to provide comparatively high benefits to injured workers. That’s how this myth took hold that Washington is not competitive in this area. Business lobbying groups continually and deliberately decry the level of benefits –not employers’ actual costs — in their quest to cut premiums even further.”
We are sure to be in an intense campaign of misinformation and disinformation from the BIAW about this measure. The BIAW has previously run an initiative campaign against ergonomic standards for workers which grossly misrepresented the facts. They also have dumped enormous amounts of money into political campaigns to try to elect their candidates to the Washington State Supreme Court as well as backing Dino Rossi for Governor and Rob McKenna for Attorney General.
Susan Hutchison, running for King County Executive, claims she is nonpartisan.
Hutchison’s media firm, however, is the opposite of nonpartisan . A Google on Dresner, Wickers & Associates is unambiguous. “Dresner, Wickers & Associates is the go–to political consulting firm for Republican candidates, ballot initiatives, and major trade organizations.”
Their campaign work according to their website includes “strategic communication, media production and placement, polling and focus groups, DWA is a full–service agency”
A look at their present and past clients confirms their Republican credentials. Highlighted as “current” clients are:
Presidential Candidate and former Governor Mike Huckabee, Arkansas
US Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota.
They claim as a current issues advocacy client the Building Industry Association of Washington.
Their international list of clients includes Vladmir Putin of Russia.
As past clients listed they include:
Attorney General Ken Eickenberry, Washington
US Senator Paula Hawkins of Florida
Governor Pete Wilson, California
Their past advocacy work also includes two Washington initiative campaigns, representing those opposed to medical malpractice suits and the BIAW.
In 2005 two measures were on the ballot regarding medical malpractice. DWA worked for “Doctors , Nurses and Patients for a Healthy Washington “running with the slogan “stop the greed, vote yes on 330, no on 336. ” As Komonews.com noted “Insurance agencies and doctors wrote the measure (I-330), claiming skyrocketing legal fees jury awards are killing the medical profession.” The other side of the medical malpractice issue was Initiative 336 pushed by the Trial Lawyers. In the end both measures lost at the ballot.
The second Washington measure they were involved in was working for “Workers Against Job Killing Rules” to pass Initiative 841 which tossed out the state’s ergonomic rules that protected workers from injuries. Over half of the $1.4 million dollars to pass I-841 came from the BIAW.
Again the reality belies the myth that Hutchison is nonpartisan. She has contributed money to both Huckabee and the BIAW for example. Yes its guilt by association. You know her by her friends. Just as Rob McKenna was supported by the BIAW and then hired BIAW employees for his staff , expect that the BIAW will have representation in the King County Executives Office if she is elected.
Hutchison knew she couldn’t win running as a Republican in King County. That’s why she supported and worked for the effort to make the King County Executives Office nonpartisan.
Without the Party label, its much easier to deceive voters as to your real politics. But don’t be taken in by her phony nonpartisan claims. She’s a Republican and conservative to boot.
So how do you reward your biggest benefactor? How about a seat on the Washington State Supreme Court? The BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) has now spent some $7 million dollars through its so called independent PAC called “It’s Time for a Change” to try to elect GOP (AKA Republican) Dino Rossi Governor this year. This money has been spent both supporting Dino Rossi and opposing Governor Chris Gregoire.
In past years the BIAW has spent a huge amount of money trying to get their selected candidates unto the Washington State Supreme Court so that they can weaken state environmental and land use laws and regulations.
In 2004 they succeeded in getting Jim Johnson elected as a Supreme Court Justice by helping him out raise his opponent Mary Kay Becker by $539,000 to her $157,000.
In 2006 they threw their support behind their candidates Stephen L Johnson to run against Justice Susan Owens and John Groen against Chief Justice Gerry Alexander.
They funnelled their money through their independent PAC’s like It’s Time for a Change and ChangePAC so that they could avoid the new limits set for contributions to candidate committees to include the State Supreme Court races for the first time.
The BIAW set new state records in campaign spending in the Washington State Supreme Court races via their independent expenditures. Groen saw some $1,356,000 spent independently on his behalf and Stephen Johnson saw some $532,000 spent in so called independent expenditures. Despite this record spending and probably because of it, the BIAW’s effort backfired and alerted the state’s voters to their blatant attempt to buy seats on the Washington State Supreme Court.
Justices Owens and Alexander won re-election.
The BIAW is concentrating their efforts this year in trying to get Dino Rossi elected Governor and have spent over $7 million dollars so far in their efforts.
Judge Alexander will reach the mandatory retirement age before his 6 year term expires. He was 70 in 2006 and is now 72 years old. In three years he will be 75.
As noted in the PI,“the statutory retirement age of 75 will require Alexander to leave the court at the end of 2011, a year before his six-year term expires. The governor then would appoint a successor who would have to run for election in 2012.”
Sure its a couple of years down the line and there will be 3 more Supreme Court races up in 2010, but it is just another example of the power one has as Governor. If Rossi is elected Governor he will have at least one Supreme Court appointment for sure and you know it will be a payback to friends.
Rossi in fact note the importance of the power of appointments as Governor. In an article in the Tacoma News Tribune, it is stated that Rossi“vows to change the “tone and tenor” of state government through the power of appointments. If he’s elected governor, Rossi says he will get to appoint 1,000 people “from Blueberry Commission on up.”
One of those positions would be a Washington State Supreme Court Justice.
In a press release earlier today, Knoll Lowney of Smith & Lowney stated that:
“Today, lawyers for gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi indicated that Rossi will fight the subpoena that requires him to testify under oath as to his role in the illegal fundraising campaign of the Building Industry Association of Washington(“BIAW”), which is currently being prosecuted by the State Attorney General. “
You can catch the current King 5 news report here on YouTube.
You can see last week’s King 5 news reports here.
Lowney noted that a separate lawsuit was filed last week by former Washington State Supreme Justices Faith Ireland and Robert F. Utter regarding Republican Rossi’s alleged collaboration with the BIAW’s massive fundraising effort to swing the Governor’s race in favor of Republican Rossi.
The BIAW has a war chest of $3.5 million which it is spending opposing incumbent Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire and supporting Republican Dino Rossi. Under state law contributions directly to candidates are limited to $1600 per election for state wide office.
No such limit apples unfortunately for so-called independent PAC’s which is what the BIAW is claiming their PAC’s like ChangePAC and It’s Time for a Change are. But independent means just that – there can be no collaboration between the candidate and the so-called independent committee.
The irony here is that the BIAW actually asked for an interpretation of what independent meant in 2004. The answer seems pretty clear. In a memorandum dated June 15, 2004, written by Susan Harris, Assistant Director of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission she stated a no answer to the following:
Tim Harris, General Counsel for BIAW, has asked whether a candidate may solicit funds for a political committee (PAC) that would make independent expenditures in support of that candidate, if the candidate:
(1) has no say with respect to the spending of the PAC or other content of the message;
(2) would not encourage or approve the actual specific expenditure; and
(3) would not otherwise collaborate with any PAC officials regarding the expenditure?
Staff believes the answer to the question is no. Not all of the elements of an Independent Expenditure as defined in RCW 42.17.020(24)(a) could be satisfied.
….., the definition of “independent expenditure” includes a four part test in RCW 42.17.020(24)(a). Each of the four parts must be met in order for the expenditure to satisfy the definition. The circumstances posed by BIAW fail two of the four parts.
Specifically, subdivision (iii) requires that the spender not be a person who has received the candidate’s “encouragement,” and subdivision (iv) says the candidate and the spender may not have “collaborated for the purpose of making the expenditure,” when the expense pays for political advertising supporting that candidate or opposing that candidate’s opponent.
Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary defines “encourage” as: “1. To inspire with hope, courage or confidence: HEARTEN; 2. To give support to: FOSTER; 3. To stimulate.”
One of the most fundamental ways a candidate could encourage a person to purchase political advertising supporting that candidate is to help make sure that person has sufficient funds to undertake an effective advertising effort. Assisting a PAC in fundraising fosters that committee’s ability to make the political advertising expenditure benefiting the candidate. As such, the PAC expenditure is not sufficiently removed from the candidate to qualify as an independent expenditure.
Collaborate” is defined in Webster’s as: 1. To work together, esp. in a joint intellectual effort; 2. To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupying one’s country.
Staff is of the opinion that if a candidate solicits contributions for a PAC by, for example, referring potential contributors to the committee, putting a link to the PAC’s website on his or her campaign website, or referencing the PAC in his or
her own campaign literature, then the candidate and the PAC are working together for the purpose of making a political advertising expenditure. That collaboration disqualifies any resulting expenditure from the definition of independent expenditure.
Based on a reasonable application of the definition of independent expenditure that is consistent with the intent of the statute, staff is recommending the Commission find that if a candidate assists a PAC in fundraising and the PAC then undertakes political advertising supporting that candidate or promoting the defeat of that candidate’s opponent, that expenditure does not satisfy the definition of “independent expenditure.”
Examples of fundraising assistance include helping the PAC identify potential contributors, referring potential contributors to the PAC, and referencing the PAC on the candidate’s website or in his or her literature.
If the BIAW and Rossi had complied with this memo they would not be in court now. My guess is that the BIAW decided to ignore this memorandum, realizing they could spend millions of dollars supporting Rossi and the worst they would face would be a fine of a few thousand dollars. The cost of trying to skirt the laws and put Republican Rossi in the Governor’s seat would be a pittance compared to what the BIAW would gain by having their ally as Governor..
Maybe the Court should fine them the total amount of their illegal campaign spending. That would certainly get their attention.
Attorney General Rob McKenna is in a tough spot. The PDC has asked the Washington State Attorney General to consider legal action against the BIAW – the Building Industry Association of Washington. But the BIAW PACS are his friends and contibuted heavily to McKenna’s election in 2004.
As reported in the Seattle Times on Wednesday:
The state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) ruled Monday that the builders violated several campaign laws by not properly reporting more than $500,000 in contributions that passed through a BIAW subsidiary and to a political-action committee, ChangePAC, opposing Gregoire.
The PDC referred the case to McKenna’s office, which will decide by Friday whether to pursue legal action.
What the article doesn’t mention is that Rob McKenna has a clear conflict of interest and needs to recuse himself from this case. MajorityRules Blog wrote about this in several of its early posts in 2005. Rob McKenna benefited from donations given to BIAW’s ChangePAC 2004 which shuffled the money to another of its PAC’s “It’s Time for a Change”.
Change PAC, Change PAC 2004, and It’s Time for a Change are all BIAW PAC’s. The same mailing address appears for all 3 PAC’s, namely PO Box 1909, Olympia, WA 98507. Elliott Swaney, the BIAW’s Political Affairs Director has been the treasurer for all 3 PAC’s and the phone number listed for contact information 360-352-7800 is the main phone number for the BIAW’s office in Olympia.
It’s Time for a Change raised some $1,058,539 in 2004. A quick look shows that ChangePAC 2004 contributed some $867,818 of that amount in cash. Because Swaney was the treasurer of both organizations one wonders if he put the check in the mail when he sent it from PO Box 1909 to PO Box 1909.
One wonders where the PDC was on all this because the BIAW never listed these PAC’s as affiliated with them.
The BIAW’s It’s Time for a Change also deliberately obscured how it was spending over $200 thousand dollars by not clearly identifying what candidate it was making specific expenditures for or against. BIAW’s “It’s Time for a Change” spent a minimum of $415,580 in independent expenditures on the McKenna/Senn race for Attorney General in 2004 – supporting Rob McKenna and opposing Deborah Senn.
It appears to have spent some $421,427 opposing Chris Gregoire and supporting Dino Rossi for Governor. The only identified additional expenditure was $12,500 to support Jim Johnson for State Supreme Court.
This leaves some $208,714 that is not identified as to who it was spent supporting or oposing. If all of this money was spent for Rob McKenna, he was the beneficiary of up to $624,294 collected by the BIAW.
Rob McKenna needs to appoint an independent prosecutor to look at this case and decide what to do. He is too close to the problem. Rob McKenna personally thanked the BIAW after the election in 2004 for their “independent efforts” to help get him elected.
One has to question just how vigerously an Attorney General who benefited by the actions of the BIAW’s PAC’s in 2004 would go after prosecuting the current violations alleged by the PDC.
Rob McKenna has a clear conflict of interest in this case.
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.
Some candidates are getting an early start on raising money for the 2008 statewide races. Financial reports filed for the 2008 statewide races show the Governor’s race getting the most attention.
As of the latest reports filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for the period though Nov 30, 2007, Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire, has raised over $4,156,386, spent $1,368,739 and has $2,678,454 in cash on hand.
Republican Dino Rossi, who lost to Gregoire in 2004, is re-running and has raised $1,435,355, spent $525,748 and has $909,607 on hand.
Lt Governor Brad Owen, a Democrat reported raising $16,635, spending $6917 and having $9717 on hand. No Republican has filed yet with the PDC.
Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican has raised $635,617, spent $267,364 and has $368,252 in cash on hand. Although Pierce Count Executive John Ladenburg has been rumored to be considering a run for this seat, he has not filed with the Public Disclosure Commission.
Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican, has raised $230,899, spent $62,023 and has $168,875 on hand. He has no announced opponents at this time.
The current State Treasurer Mike Murphy, a Democrat, is retiring. Democratic State Legislator Jim McIntire is running for this seat. He has raised $33,945, spent $13,899 and has $20,046 on hand. Allan Martin is the Republican candidate. He has raised $21,530, spent $1786 and has $19,744 in cash on hand.
Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland, a Republican has raised $157,459, spent $15,370 and has $142,088 in cash on hand. Former Democratic Congressional candidate Peter Goldmark from eastern Washington is challenging Sutherland for this seat. Goldmark has raised $59,969, spent $29,197 and has $30,371 in cash on hand.
State Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Demcrat, has no opponent at this time. He has raised $27,432, spent $4054 and has $23,398 on hand.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, a Democrat, has raised some $38,686, spent $12,046 and has $26,640 on hand.
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Terry Bergeson has raised $27,051, spent $1980, and has $25,071 on hand.
If only one name is mentioned in a race, it means no one else has filed with the PDC at this time.
None of these figures include money raised for independent expenditures in these races. In 2004, eg, the Building Industry Association of Washington, through its affiliated PAC called It’s Time for A Change, made $1,053,251 in independent expenditures -most of it to support Republican Rob McKenna in his race for Attorney General. In addition $1.5 million came from out of state from the US Chamber of Commerce opposing Debra Senn in the primary.
Senn received $1,080,028 in contributions for her whole campaign. This approximately matched the $1,211,814 McKenna received directly to his campaign. The $ 2.5 million in independent expenditures supporting McKenna was more than both candidates raised together.
McKenna personally thanked the BIAW for their support on election night saying if it wasn’t for the BIAW he wouldn’t have been elected.
Public Disclosure be Damned! So say Dino Rossi and the BIAW in their early starting rematch with Governor Christine Gregoire. Both are conducting efforts to get Rossi elected and both are not reporting to the PDC their real campaign efforts .
As Andrew over at the NW Progressive Blog writes in his post Walking for Washington, the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) is the main funder behind the Walking for Washington PAC which it turns out is once again a “Walking for Rossi” PAC. They have been going door to door canvassing for a number of months now asking voters survey questions starting out with a “Would you vote for Rossi or Gregoire for Governor?”‘ first question.
The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission reports that Walking for Washington has raised some $125,618 total. The BIAW gave $90,000 in cash and $15,193 in kind. The remainder was transferred from another BIAW PAC, It’s Time for a Change, which has the same BIAW address and treasurer, as the Walking for Washington PAC.
Where the BIAW and it’s Walking for Washington PAC skirt state law and are a stealth campaign, is that they never report for what candidate they are spending money doing the survey and voter id work for. They are trying to slide this work under the radar so to speak. They have never filed paperwork with the PDC declaring what candidate or candidates they are spending money supporting or opposing. They merely report expenditures for individual contractors with no mention of the race or candidate they are involved with.
In fact they repeatedly check off as no the statement “During the Reporting Period, did the committee make an independent expenditure (ie an expense not considered a contribution) supporting or opposing a state or local candidate?”
OK please explain to me how a committee which previously supported Rossi and that is asking voters about issues to micro target them and that asks them if they would vote for Rossi or Gregoire for Governor is not making an expenditure supporting Rossi and opposing Gregoire?
It is obvious that they are opposing Gregoire and supporting Rossi from both the questions asked about the Governor’s race and the fact that this is the identical work of micro targeting based on a list of issues the voters support or oppose, just as they did for Rossi in his 2004 Gubernatorial campaign.
Meanwhile Rossi himself is running as a candidate without filing with the PDC as a candidate. He is doing this through his traveling and speaking for his foundation Forward Washington. David Goldstein writes about this in a post entitled “Forward Washington, Rewind Rossi”
We first wrote about this this in a post last December entitled “Rossi Starts Run for Governor”
So what’s wrong with these guys? Why can’t they be straightforward with Washington voters and admit what they are up to? Why are they bending over backward to skirt state law rather than be honest with the voters as to what they are up to.
Voters should interpret this behavior for what it is - dishonesty. It is a ridiculous attempt to hide campaign activities. Who do they think they are fooling? Voters should read Rossi’s actions as indicative of the type of Governor he would be.
It portrays Rossi as a politician that you can’t trust to tell the truth or that doesn’t care to treat voters with respect. It’s one of “I don’t give a damn about public disclosure and the voters knowing what I am really doing.” Let it be a warning – a flashing light or a buzzer that gives you pause and makes you wonder just how open and honest Rossi would be as Governor.
Last fall we wrote a number of posts about the attempt of the Building Industry Association of Washington’s attempt to buy their self anointed candidates seats on the Washington State Supreme Court. They were unsuccessful.
Today we were honored to receive a David Neiwert Award given by the Northwest Progressive Institute to progressive bloggers. Click on the link to see awards given to other bloggers. Our award was for “Most Valuable Explanatory Reporting “for our series of articles on the Washington State Supreme Court races in September and November 2006.
“The regional blogosphere continues to grow at a rapid pace, and in 2006, the Northwest netroots community was fortunate to be joined by an experienced activist who is a veteran of many past campaigns for progressive policy solutions. Steve Zemke, who in 2003 founded MajorityRules.org, launched a new blog early in 2006 and found a key niche covering issues not receiving prominent exposure in other blogs. Most significantly, in the summer of 2006, Steve maintained a consistent and unyielding focus on judicial races targeted by the right wing Building Industry Association of Washington. He profiled the incumbent justices and judges under attack, urged readers to donate to help their campaigns, dissected campaign expenditure reports from the Public Disclosure Commission, and explained how judicial races work (if there are only two candidates running in the primary, the election is decided in the primary and only one candidate goes on to the general). The right wing effort to pack the courts was ultimately a failure and we commend Steve for his efforts to mobilize the community and inform the public.”
Post Script to Washington State Supreme Court Races – April 2007
Washington State dodged the heavy artillery attack by the BIAW in Sept and Nov. 2006 but because of that the lessons seem to be forgotten already.
The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission choose to ignore the complaints filed by MajorityRulesBlog and others. The Washington State Legislature heard bills sponsored by Washington Public Campaigns to provide public financing for Judicial races as well as all statewide races but choose to let the bills die. Tightening up spending by PAC’s that allow avoidance of campaign spending limits placed on candidate committees also saw no action by the Washington State Legislature.
Unfortunately we can expect a repeat of unlimited spending by special interest PAC’s, like those put together by the Building Industry Association of Washington, in the next judicial election cycle.
Washington Public Campaigns would be wise to run their legislation as an initiative to the people considering that Washington State Legislators seem more intent on preserving special interest PAC campaign spending than on controlling it because they are frequently the beneficiaries of the current system of such spending.
Senate Full Committee
Right now the Building Industry Association is the main financier of candidates running for the Washington State Supreme Court. Two of their candidates won election in the last several years – Jim Johnson and Richard Saunders. And they spent several million trying to elect two more Supreme Court Justices this last year. Such outrageous and out of control special interest money in campaigns destroys a fair and impartial judiciary.
It’s time for citizens to take back the electoral process and remove special interest money trying to pack our courts with hand picked candidates that are beholden to the special interests, not the law or the public good.
This Thursday starts the process to get the Washington State Legislature to enact public financing of campaign elections. Come and testify that you want to take back control of our elections. Testify in support of SB 5226. The hearing starts at 3:30 P.M. Thursday January 25, 2007. Sign up at 3:00 if you want to speak.
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