It’s a strange combination but corporate oil and beer profits fuel the signature drive for Eyman’s current initiative. Oil and water may not mix but it looks like oil and beer profits do. Latest reports from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show corporate interests dumping in most of the $964,713 reported for Eyman’s I-1185 campaign to re-enact a 2/3 voting requirement by the legislature to raise revenue.
This latest million dollar corporate campaign to restrict the Washington State Legislature’s ability to raise funds is happening despite the recent King County Superior Court decision declaring that the 2/3 vote restriction in Initiative 1053 is unconstitutional. The decision by Superior Court Judge Bruce F Heller was issued on May 31, 2012. While this decision will likely be reviewed by the Washington State Supreme Court. Judge Heller’s Memorandum Opinion is pretty clear and simple.
Heller decleared that “The majority provision of Art. II, Section 22 is a clear restriction on the legislature’s power to require more than a majority vote for passage of tax measures. This restriction applies to statures initiated by the legislature and to statues passed pursuant to voter initiatives, While initiative measures reflect the reserved power of the people to legislate, the people in their legislative capacity remain subject to mandates of the Constitution, Gerberding, 134 Wn.2d at 196. RCW 43.135.024(1) is therefore unconstitutional.”
Despite this clear decision corporate interests persist in trying to prevent the Legislature from voting to directly raise revenue to fund basic state needs or to recoup revenue lost to non performing or under performing tax exemptions that are not benefiting Washington state or its citizens.
On May 16, the Beer Institute out of Washington DC dropped in $400,000 dollars to help pay Citizen Solutions, Eyman’s signature gathering firm. BP Oil out of Chicago, Il added $100,000 as did Conoco Phillips Company out of Washington DC. The Washington Restaurant Association added $25,000.
Meanwhile the Association of Washington Business acting to shield the true source of their money, paid $185,000 directly to Citizen Solutions. It was reported as an In Kind donation by Eyman. Where did the Association of Washington Business get the money from? Their public disclosure report shows that they received $100,000 from the American Beverage Association in Washington, DC and another $100,000 from Tesoro Companies in San Antonio, Texas. In addition they got $50,000 from Equilion Enterprises in Houston Texas, and $50,000 from Shell Oil Company in Sacramento, California.
In a press report where Jay Inslee, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Washington accused the Assocation of Washington Business of collecting money from Tesoro to support Inslee’s Republican opponent Rob McKenna, the AWB denied the accusation and said the money was passed on to Citizen Solutions to pay for collecting signatures on I-1185.
Big corporate interests are again looking out for their bottom line. Oil companies love it that Eyman is using his anti tax mantra to promote a measure that helps protect their profits. Eyman is selling his snake oil potion to the citizen taxpayers of Washington State as something that benefits them. Unfortunately what it does is lock in a regressive tax system that soaks low income taxpayers and lets corporate profiteers off the hook for new taxes and prevents the legislature from repealing special interest tax breaks oil companies and others enjoy.
Oil companies are opposing a State Legislative proposed increase in the toxic substances tax that would have been used to clean up stormwater runoff contaminated by oil byproducts. Here in Washington state oil companies are soaking up profits like mad as our gasoline prices are the highest in the nation. We pay higher gas prices so they can pay Eyman to put in place a measure that would stop the legislature from charging them to help clean up an environmental problem caused by toxic oil in stormwater runoff entering our strearms, rivers and Puget Sound. Gas prices right now are the highest in the lower 48 states.
Three of the companies contributing to Eyman’s campaign are Shell oil companies. Besides Shell itself, Tesoro Industries and Equilon Enterprises are affiliated with Shell. Equilion is doing business in Washington State as Shell Oil Products and has a crude oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington. Tesoro Industries also has a refinery in Anacortes and markets under the Shell name among others. In 2010 there was an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery at Anacortes, Washington that killed 5 workers.
Can Shell afford to help Tim Eyman? I suppose their $8.7 billion dollar profit in the first quarter of 2012 left them with some spare change. BP Oil reported a profit of $5.9 billion and Conoco Phillips a profit of $2.9 billion. To them a few hundred million to prevent the Washington State Legislature from having them help pay for cleaning up oil contaminated stormwater runoff is just another small investment in protecting their profits.
The taxpayers of Washington State, who are paying the highest gas prices in the United States, are the suckers unfortunately who suffer from both oil contaminated water and a regressive tax system that doesn’t tax the wealthy the same as lower income brackets. This is because Eyman’s 2/3 vote requirement for raising revenue or repealing corporate tax exemptions forces the legislature to cut public services like education and health care for seniors and children rather than do tax reform and make the system fairer and more equitable.
Washington voters and taxpayers need to wake up to the reality that letting a minority of 1/3 of the Legislators in one House dictate tax policy benefits the wealthy and Big Corporations a lot more than moderate and low income working families. Why else are the Oil and Beverage Companies funding I-1185? It’s their corporate profits that’s driving their actions, not their civic altruism.
Don’t sign I-1185 or vote for it if it makes the ballot.