The Washington State Governor’s race is far and away attrracting the most money this year, followed by the race for Washington State Atttorney General. Through May 2012 Jay Inslee (D) and Rob McKenna (R) have each raised over $6 million dollars. The next campaign finance report through June 0f 2012 will be released July 10th. Full reports and contributor’s names are available on the Washington State Public Disclosure website.
here are the most recent reported numbers:
Name Raised Spent Owed
Jay Inslee (D) $6,195,567 $2,604,808 $131,065
Rob McKenna (R) $6,333,189 $2,601,872 $58.028
William Finkbinder (R) $103,327 $39,869
Brad Owens (D) $134,017 $78,134
Reagan Dunn (R) $878,303 $358,223 $1,756
Robert Ferguson (D) $852,147 $303,231 $46,074
Troy Kelley (D) $107,584 $12,956 $10,254
Mark Milosca (D) $61,287 $29,471
Craig Pridemore (D) $115,190 $43,167 $5,500
James Watkins (R) $45,515 $11,23o $20,000
Public Lands Commissioner
Clint Didier (R) $4150 $1659 $1656
Peter Goldmark (D) $289,626 $98,268
Mike Kreidler (D) $87,000 $29,665
Martin Reilly (R) $9,937 $7400
Secretary of State
Kathleen Drew $101,598 $75,429 $3800
James Kastama (D) $52,524 $37,215
Gregory Nickels (D) $105,661 $57,667 $10,700
Kimberly Wyman (R) $102,443 $41,105 $1,103
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Randy Dorn (N) $99,522 $60,532
James McIntire (D) $83,642 $35,671 $8,584
U.S. Supreme Court maneuvering in a case involving corporate money in political campaigns suggests that the right wing majority on the court is practicing judicial activism. The case involves a corporate documentary last year that was critical of Hilliary Clinton. According to an article today in the New York Times entitled “High Court Poised to Rewrite Spending Rules” the US Supreme Court appears to be setting up to overturn major provisions of the McCain Feingold law that it upheld just 2 years ago.
What has changed in those 2 years is that two more conservative justices have been appointed to the Court – Justices Roberts and Alito. As the New York Times notes “The Roberts court has struck down every campaign finance regulation to reach it, and it seems to have a majority prepared to do more. “
The issue involves “corporate money” in campaigns. The conservatives say that limiting the spending of corporate money is equal to limiting free speech. They argue limiting corporate money in elections violates the first amendment.
Of course there are several assumptions here that are questionable. One is that corporations should be accorded the same rights as citizens under the first amendment and second the assumption that equating the ability to spend money is somehow equivalent to a free speech right. The reality is that money buys access and exposure and corporations in general have more access to money that individuals.
The problem here is how you reconcile fairness in elections with lavish spending of money by special interests. Obviously the more money a corporation has, the more ability they have to get their message out to the voters. Thus the more money they have, the more “free” speech they have. At what point does corporate free spending of money overwhelm the ability of those with limited ability to raise money to have their voice heard?
The issue as the NY Times states is that “The court is poised to reverse longstanding precedents concerning the rights of corporations to participate in politics,” said Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia. “The only reason to ask for reargument on this is if they’re going to overturn Austin and McConnell.”
The issue is another that denotes the hypocrisy of conservatives. They argue against judicial activism, unless it is their own activism. Its just like conservative Republicans arguing for the sanctity of marriage except when its their marriage. Look not at what they say, but what they do. In this case it appears they are actively working to overturn a law they don’t agree with now, that two years ago a court without Roberts and Alito supported.
The current case as stated by the NY Times
“involves “Hillary: The Movie,” a slashing political documentary released last year while Mrs. Clinton, now the secretary of state, was seeking the democratic presidential nomination. The film was produced by Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group that is a nonprofit corporation.
The McCain-Feingold law bans the broadcast, cable or satellite transmission of “electioneering communications” paid for by corporations in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before a general election.
The law, as narrowed by a 2007 Supreme Court decision, applies to communications “susceptible to no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.” It also requires spoken and written disclaimers in the film and ads for it, along with the disclosure of contributors’ names.”
A Supreme Court with several Obama appointees could very well reverse the negative climate against campaign finance restrictions. See related article e.g. on Sonja Sotomayor in NY Times entitled, “A Long Record on Campaign Finance, Often in Support of Regulations” which notes that “In 1996, Judge Sonia Sotomayor delivered a speech comparing campaign contributions to “bribes” and asking whether elected officials could credibly say they were “representing only the general public good, when private money plays such a large role” in helping them win office.”
This threat of new appointees to the US Supreme Court by Obama obviously seems behind this manoeuvring by the present court to reverse McCain Feingold and their two year old decision. This is the type of judicial activism we need to fear – a conservative US Supreme Court hell bent on attacking laws they don’t support. They are trying to act before the Court changes to a more mainstream philosophy that the American people support. This distorted right wing philosophy of judicial activists like Roberts and Alito intent on changing US laws they don’t like will remain a threat until the makeup of the US Supreme Court changes.
If you think the US Senate is going to figure out a way to track the billions of dollars they are giving away forget it. It seems they still have not even figured out how to use computers and the Internet to even track their own campaigns.
For years Senate Republicans have been blocking legislation requiring them to use computers to move reporting of their campaign financing into the digital age. A New York Times editorial last year summed up the still current status of first filing paper copies of campaign records that then have to be scanned and resent to the Federal Elections Commission.
“Unlike the House, it (the US Senate) still refuses to require electronic filing of its campaign finance data. It clings to an old slow-motion paper system that builds in months of obfuscation by requiring print records that have to be scanned and e-mailed to election officials, who in turn have to do their own processing and printing before the information is publicly available. Senate Republican leaders have, scandalously, been blocking a good bill that would force campaign reporting into the digital age.”
Once again a bill is being introduced to correct this absurd situation. Let’s hope this time that the Democrats have enough audacity to tell the holdout Republicans, particularly Senator John Ensign of Nevada who put a hold on this bill in the past, to get with the program and move into the digital age. It’s way past time.
Talk about wasting money and resources still filing paperwork in the digital age. Of course for the Republicans it was merely a delaying tactic to prevent the public from getting timely information on campaign contributions.
As Reid Wilson reports on the Hill:
Under the current system, Senate campaigns file paper copies of their quarterly disclosure reports with the Secretary of the Senate, which then transmits those reports to the Federal Election Commission.
House campaigns are required to file their reports electronically and directly to the FEC, making for sortable databases and easily compilable statistics.
But the Senate process is cumbersome, often taking weeks to produce results readily available on the Internet.“If you can’t search on the Web, you can’t get timely information about contributions. It takes weeks for the contributions to get in any online database,” Weissman said. “It’s critical if you’re talking about an election coming up and the voters knowing who’s supporting the candidates.”
As it is the Congress still use quarterly filing and it is way past time to also move to monthly campaign reporting. Washington State has done monthly reporting for years. Congress should also and quit hiding information from the public about who is contributing to Senate campaigns.
The Hill notes that Senator Feingold and Senator Cochran first introduced the legislation entitled the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act in 2003. Feingold is going to reintroduce the bill again in the next few weeks and has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Help urge the US Senate on and send an e-mail to your Senators urging they join the digital revolution in reporting campaign contributions. Click on the link to email Washington State’s Senators:
To e-mail Senators in other states go to the US Senate website.
The race for Public Lands Commissioner in Washington State is over. Democrat Peter Goldmark has been declared the winner by the Associated Press. He ousted 8 year incumbent Republican Doug Sutherland.
The latest returns on the Secretary of State’s election site posted at 10:16 AM today show the race still tight. Goldmark leads with 1,059,007 votes (50.85%) to Sutherland’s 1,023,553 votes (49.15%). The difference is some 35,454 votes.
Goldmark out raised his opponent $1,055,464 to $601,351. However special interests like Weyerhauser gave money to the so-called independent PAC- the Committee for Balanced Stewardship to raise an additional $573,000 to support Sutherland.
This allowed Weyerhauser to skirt normal campaign contribution limits of $1600 per election for a candidate for statewide offices and contribute $100,000 to support Sutherland’s candidacy.
In addition the independent PAC – Realtor’s Quality of Life spent $28,780 to support Sutherland.
Contributions directly to a candidate’s committee are limited to $1600 per election or a total of $3200 for both the primary and general election. This is supposedly to reduce the influence of large money in campaigns but the loophole of unlimited contributions to independent PAC’s show how easy it is to skirt this limit.
The Washington Governor’s race also saw huge spending by so called independent PACs. The BIAW through it’s PACs contributed over $7 million to unsuccessfully try to defeat Democratic Governor Gregoire.
Both the Governor’s race and Public Lands Commissioner race were wins for Democrats being hit with huge amounts of special interest money. There is a real question that if Barack Obama had not been on the ballot as to whether or not these Democrats would still have won. The closeness of the two races raises the issue, particularly since some analysts are saying national issues affected many local races this year and that this may be a trend. Certainly the uniqueness and turnout of the Presidential race was a factor.
The idea of trying to limit the influence of huge amounts of special interest money going to PACs in Washington State is a legitimate issue to raise. The diluting by unlimited special interest contributions of the voice of those who abide by campaign spending limits is something that needs to be addressed in Washington State.
The National Conference of State Legislatures has done an analysis of state limitations on contributions to political action committees and the result is interesting. Here are some of the limits for individuals giving to PACs:
Alaska $500/yr, Arkansas $5000/yr, California $6000/election, Colorado $500/2 year cycle, Connecticut, $2000/yr, Florida $500/election, Hawaii $1000 election, Kentucky $1500/yr, Louisiana $100,000/4 yr cycle, Maryland, $4000/4 yr cycle, Massachusetts $500/year, New Hampshire $5000/election, New Jersey $7200/yr, North Carolina $4000/election, Ohio $10,670/yr, Oklahoma $5000 yr, Rhode Island $1000/yr, South Carolina $3500/yr, Vermont $2000/2 yr cycle
Meanwhile Washington State allows unlimited money from an individual to go to a PAC. Our only limit is that during the last 21 days before an election, no contributor may donate more than $5000 to a candidate or political committee.
The other limit some states impose on contributions to PACs is to limit corporate and union contributions. These include:
Alabama $500/election, Arkansas $5000/calender yr, California $6000/election, Connecticut $2000/calendar year, Florida $500/election, Hawaii $1000/election, Indiana $5000 state candidates, Louisiana $100,000 4 yr cycle, Maryland $4000/4 yr cycle, Mississippi $1000/calendar year, New Hampshire $5000/election, New Jersey $7200/yr, New York $5000 total/yr, South Carolina $3500/calendar yr, and Vermont $2000//2 yr cycle.
Meanwhile Washington State allows unlimited corporate and union contributions to PACs with the 21 day rule exception above limiting contributions to no more than $5000 in the last 21 days before an election.
Going even further, a number of states ban all corporate and union contributions to PACs including Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
We can do things differently in Washington State. While the US Supreme Court has overturned strict spending limits, they have agreed that reasonable limits on contributions are acceptable.
Equalizing corporate and union and individual contributions to PACs to be the same limits as those to candidate campaign committees seems a reasonable way to reduce the influence of special interests with huge bankrolls from overwhelming the voice of individual voters.
A limit of $1600 to contributions to candidate campaign committees and independent PACs per election would help stop the flood of special interest contributions trying to outshout the voices of individual citizens engaging in the electoral process.
Peter Goldmark is the Democrat running for Public Lands Commissioner in Washington State. According to the latest Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) reports Peter Goldmark has out raised his Republican opponent Doug Sutherland, the incumbent, $841,775 to $578,052. Goldmark’s fundraising is impressive considering that about 50% of Sutherland’s money is coming from timber and mining interests.
But lurking in the shadows is an independent PAC called the Committee for Balanced Stewardship. It has a war chest totalling $594,910. In 2004 this same committee spent over $322,000 doing last minute mailers supporting Doug Sutherland’s campaign for Public Lands Commissioner. Sutherland won that race against Mike Cooper.
The Committee for Balanced Stewardship is going to again spend all its money to try to re-elect Sutherland. But something is wrong when a special interest PAC comprised of mostly timber interests is raising more money to support the candidate than the candidate is raising.
And to top things off many of these timber and mining interests are giving to both campaign committees. Over half of the contributions to Sutherland campaign are from timber and mining interests.
Contributions directly to Sutherland’s campaign are limited to $1600 per election (primary and general are separate elections). But the same contributor giving money to a PAC like the so called Committee for Balanced Growth can contribute as much as they want to try to influence the outcome of the election.
That’s why you’ll see Weyerhauser has given Sutherland’s campaign $1400 but has also given the Committee for Balanced Stewardship $100,000. So much for limiting the influence of big money in elections. As long as the loophole exists that money given to a so-called independent PAC has no limits, companies like Weyerhauser will use their corporate dollars to try to disproportionately influence the outcome of the election to get their candidate elected.
This loophole gives big money interests that stand to profit from the election of their candidate a decided and unfair advantage in trying to influence the outcome of the election. Regular donors who give directly to the candidate, see their ability to affect the outcome of the election diminished.
The loophole as written for no limits on contributions to independent PAC’s says if you are wealthy or have corporate money to spend, you have a huge advantage in trying to affect the outcome of the election by your greater ability to reach the voters with your message.
So who is basically skirting campaign contributions limits to Sutherland by giving to the so-called independent PAC. Here’s the list of corporate interests donating to the Committee for Balanced Stewardship that is trying to keep Republican Sutherland in office:
Weyerhauser, Federal Way,WA $100,000
Hampton Affiliates, Portland, OR $75,000
Rayonier, Jacksonville, FL $75,000
Glacier NW, Port Angeles, WA $50,000
Green Crow, Port Angeles, WA $25,000
Sierra Pacific Industries, Redding, CA $25,000
Port Blakely Tree Farms, Tumwater, WA $20,000
Stimson Lumber Co, Portland, OR $20,000
Longview Timber Co, Longview, WA $25,000
Green Diamond, Shelton, WA $25,000
Olympic Resource Mgt, Poul;sbo, WA $15,000
Simpson, Tacoma, WA $12,500
Murray Pacific, Tacoma, WA $20,000
Vaagen Brothers, Colville, WA $5000
With the Committee for Balanced Stewardship’s money and Sutherland’s campaign money, timber and mining interests will comprise about 3/4 of the money spent to try to re-elect Doug Sutherland. They want to keep their cozy relationship with the current Commissioner of Public Lands. All the more reason to vote for Peter Goldmark. Public lands should be for public good not private gain.
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.
As of the latest reports filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for the period though Dec 31, 2007, and first available after 1/10/2008, Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire, has raised over $4,665,352 for her re-election campaign, has spent $1,554,766 and has $3,110,586 in cash on hand.
Because of the prohibition of raising funds 30 days before the legislative session begins and during the session, Governor Gregoire’s fundraising stopped as of Dec. 10, 2007. She will be able to resume fundraising after the session ends. The same prohibition on fundraising also applies for other state incumbents running for office.
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, who lost to Gregoire in 2004, is re-running and is not subject to the prohibition on raising funds since he is not a state official. He reported receiving $1,707,197 in contributions and in kind donations and spending $393,626 as of Dec 31, 2007. He has $1.303,571 in cash on hand as of Dec 31, 2007.
Rossi’s previous figures were revised as the result of a Public Disclosure Commission dismissal of a complaint that his Forward Washington Foundation was really a campaign committee for his run for Governor.
Lt Governor Brad Owen, a Democrat reported raising $16,635, spending $6917 and having $9717 on hand as of 11/30/2007. No Republican has filed yet with the PDC.
Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican has raised $712,950, spent $318,155 and has $368,252 in cash on hand.
Democratic Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg , as noted at Riddenbaugh Press and first reported by the Tacoma News Tribune, is considering running as a Democrat against Rob McKenna.
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.
Democratic State Legislator Jim McIntire is running for State Treasurer. The current State Treasurer Mike Murphy, a Democrat, is retiring. McIntire has raised $61.795 and spent 14,494. Allan Martin is the Republican candidate. He has raised $29,480 and spent $2733.
Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland, a Republican has raised $170,808, spent $18,655 and has $ 152,153 in cash on hand.
Former Democratic Congressional candidate Peter Goldmark from eastern Washington is challenging Sutherland for this seat. Goldmark has raised $99,644 , spent $30,655 and has $69,025 in cash on hand.
State Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Democrat, has no opponent at this time. He has raised $27,432, spent $4054 and has $23,398 on hand. His last report was 11/30/2007.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, a Democrat, has raised some $40,236, spent $12,046 and has $28,189 in cash on hand. No opponent has filed yet.
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Terry Bergeson has raised $61,573 and spent $8,488.
Richard Sendler of Richland Washington has raised $8,625 and spent $8,027.
Three Washington State Supreme Court races will also be on the November 2008 ballot. Supreme Court Justices are elected to 6 year terms. No fundraising has been reported for these elections yet.
Position #3 is held by Mary Fairhurst.
Position #4 is held by Charles W Johnson who was first elected in 1991 to the Supreme Court.
Position #7 is held by Debra L Stephens who was appointed in December by Governor Gregoire to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Justice Bobbe Bridge.
To date Barack Obama has raised some $75 million in his quest for the Presidency. Hillary Clinton has raised $63 million – some $12 million less.
Much hoopla is being raised about the fact that Clinton raised some $3 million more in the third quarter numbers through September 30th than Obama did. The New York Times claims in its headline that “Clinton Steals Obama’s Fund Raising Thunder” But one can look at these numbers in different ways. Hillary’s figure go from $20 million to $22 million to $23 million for the three quarters of this year. Pretty consistent numbers.
Barack’s number go from $25 million to $31 million to $19 million. In my mind $19 million is pretty close to $22 million. A shift in momentum -maybe but he is keeping pace with Hillary despite lower third quarter numbers and is still the overall leader in fundraising. In addition he has some 140,000 more new donors than Hillary does.
In reality both candidates are to be commended for their strong campaigns, reaching out to new donors and continuing to show fundraising strength. Individual donors are limited to $2100 for the primary election. An additional $2100 individual contribution can be made for the general election. Both Obama and Clinton have raised additional cash (beyond the figures reported above for the primary) which can only be used for the general election. Whoever loses will have to return these funds to the donors.
When all is said and done, summer is a hard time for any candidate to raise money. The remaining quarter before the caucuses and primaries start in January will be a real measure of whether a significant change has taken place. Once the primaries and caucuses start all bets are off as voting results will skew fundraising momentum day to day.
CNN politics reports that John Edwards came in third in fundraising with $7 million raised for the third quarter. Bill Richardson reports that he raised $5.2 million.
Official 3Q fundraising reports for all candidates are due on October 15th and are filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
In truth the public deserves better reporting than the current system requires. All candidates should be required to file monthly reports rather than quarterly reports. Washington State has had monthly reporting for a number of years, with reports due by the 10th of each month. See Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.
Monthly reporting would give the public quicker access to campaign finance records and more accountability on who’s supporting campaigns.
Here’s the end of August fundraising breakdown for some of the candidates going on to the November election in King County. The figures are from the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.
King County Prosecutor
William R Sherman (D) raised $92,482 spent $66,354 cash on hand $27,128
Daniel T Satterberg (R) raised $168,790 spent $75,015 cash on hand $93,775
Seattle City Council Position 1
Jeanne Godden raised $191,288 spent $140,934
Joe Szwaja raised $47,794 spent $45,803
Seattle City Council Position 3
Bruce A Harrell raised $167,503 spent $125,902
Venus Valezquez raised $131,070 spent $104,258
Seattle City Council Position 5
Thomas M Rasmussen raised $196,915 spent $74,269
Seattle City Council Position 7
Timothy L Burgess raised $186,023 spent $114,032
David J Della raised $186,693 spent $129,052
Seattle City Council 9
Sally J Clark raised $148,541 spent $68,082
Judith L Fenton raised $3,887 spent $987
Port of Seattle Position 2
Bob Edwards raised $97,366 spent $96,593
Gael Tarleton raised $146,659 spent $118,277
Port of Seattle Position 5
Bill Bryant raised $198,631 spent $118,179
Alec Fisken raised $101,263 spent $62,450
Last week a conservative Supreme Court candidate named Annette Ziegler won election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. A record amount of spending occurred by both candidates and third parties in a nasty negative campaign. Sound familiar?
According to an opinion entitled “Campaigns Badly Need Cleaning Up” by The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, Ziegler
“was a candidate who spent most of the past year orchestrating one of the most negative judicial campaigns in Wisconsin history, starting with a vicious letter authored by former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow and ending with a barrage of TV spots that depicted her opponent as a know-nothing “zero.”
An out-of-state outfit called the Club for Growth pumped $250,000 into Ziegler’s primary campaign alone to underwrite attack ads on Ziegler’s behalf, and even the public relations firm that engineered the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s slimy campaign against John Kerry in 2004 got involved on her side.
And none of this counts the onslaught by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the experts in negative campaigning, that piled on Ziegler’s opponent, Linda Clifford, for the better part of three months.”
In a separate article it is noted that besides the $1.7 million spent by the two candidates
“The race saw unprecedented spending by third parties. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby, spent $1.45 million on ads supporting Ziegler and criticizing Clifford, according to Clifford’s campaign. ”
So is it any surprise that today a group of legislators in Wisconsin started circulating for co-sponsors a bill for public financing of state campaigns?
Any of this sound even more familiar now? Last year Washington went through a similar attack by the Building Industry Association of Washington and out of state money to try to elect right wing ideologues to the Washington State Supreme Court. We also saw record spending by special interests. We fared much better than Wisconsin but unfortunately the Washington State Legislature has done nothing to address the expected impact of large amounts of independent expenditures in future elections when the public is over the shock impact of last year’s races.
The Washington State Legislature this session has chosen to ignore public financing for judicial races as well as other state wide races. The reason is mainly that Legislators are also the recipients of large contributions spent by independent PAC’s in their own races. Speaker of the House Frank Chopp visualizes how such unlimited independent expenditures can be used to benefit his Democratic agenda and further solidify his caucus numbers. Republicans see it as their way back into power in the future.
They have however chosen to ignore the fact that we now have two separate and unequal campaign finance structures set up in our state that discriminate against the average citizen contributor. By limiting individual contributions directly to a candidate’s campaign committee, while allowing unlimited contributions by special interest groups, individuals and out of state funders to so called “independent PAC’s”, candidates lose control of their own campaigns and can be vastly outspent by outside interests.
One simple solution to end this segregated campaign system is to extend the present $1400 contribution limit per election for donations to major statewide candidate campaign committees, including Supreme Court Justices, to all campaign committees supporting or opposing a candidate. Whether given directly to the candidate or indirectly to a PAC, everyone is limited to the same $1400 contribution to support or oppose a candidate in a campaign.
The other solution to try to limit special interest mega-spending is to enact public financing for campaigns. Washington Public Campaigns attempted do this with a strong grassroots push to get the Washington State Legislature to pass legislation like Arizona and Maine have for all statewide candidates and North Carolina has for State Supreme Court races. Governor Gregoire supported a trial program for Supreme Court and Appellate Court races. The Washington State Legislature held hearings but ultimately passed nothing.
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