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.