Tag Archives: right wing free market think tank

Why are Democrats Supporting "The Heritage Foundation of the Northwest"?

Would you believe that some Democrats are lending their names to support a right wing free market think tank in Washington State? Was this a conscious decision or are they being co-opted by the right wing free market think tank? Several of the names are surprising – namely Democratic State Representative Maralyn Chase and Senator Jeanne Kohl-Wells. Lt Governor Brad Owen is not so surprising. But State Auditor Brian Sonntag’s name also pops up.

What group are we talking about? It’s the Washington Policy Center – an organization whose webpage quotes Jack Kemp calling them “The Heritage Foundation of the Northwest.”

The Washington Policy Center is a right wing free market think tank that is skillfully manipulating public opinion through their numerous activities, including repackaging the official state legislative website into a marketing and policy tool called WashingtonVotes.org to increase their exposure to the media and public. The Washington Policy Center is part of a national network of free market think tanks called the State Policy Network.

They say they are “nonpartisan”, citing the testimonials of these Democrats to balance out people like conservative columnist and author George Will and conservative Republican Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Democratic turned Republican Senator Zell Miller of Georgia who savaged the Democrats at the Republican National Convention.

A closer look however reveals an agenda that basically reads like the platform of the Republican Party. That’s not surprising when you look at their Board of Directors. It includes a number of prominent Republicans, including former State Representatives Emilio Cantu and William Polk, former state Senator Stephen L Johnson, former US Rep. George Nethercutt, former Ambassador Della Newman and Kemper Freeman, Jr. as well as Jeanette Hayner and Jon Sonneland on their Eastern Washington Advisory Board. No Democratic names pop up that I recognize, if there are any.

I frankly do not consider them non-partisan because their agenda is basically the same as that of the Republican Party. It’s hard to find anything they are doing that is in the platform of the Democratic Party.

Their “objectivity”is that of free market ideologues. Saying they are “non-partisan” is like Bush saying he is the President of all the people of the United States. That doesn’t change his or their anti-regulation free market support of the corporations’ mindset and corporate profit at the expense of the average citizen..

This free market corporate perspective of course is further evident through the numerous corporate and business affiliations of the majority of their Board of Directors. These include such names as Kemper Development, Washington Trust Bank, Westen Peterbilt, Inc., Columbia Ventures Corp., Fluke Capital Management, Simpson Investment Co., Connor Development, Silver Cloud Inns and Hotels and the Weiss Company.

Some of their recent Action Agenda has been very indicative of their right wing bias.

They recommended repeal of Washington State’s inheritance tax which Washington voters rejected last year.
They supported land use policies like Oregon’s measure 37 to compensate property owners for zoning changes. Voters also rejected that proposal.
They opposed banning PBDE’s – toxic flame retardants urging that Washington state not adopt a “precautionary” approach to environmental hazards. The Washington State Legislature just passed a ban on PBDE’s.
They opposed stricter air emissions standards for cars. The Legislature passed a measure to follow California’s lead to reduce air pollution.
They questioned the validity of recent global warming impacts reported in Washington State.

Their WashingtonVotes website is a ripoff of the official Washington State Legislative website at http://www.leg.wa.gov/. They are basically repackaging information that is produced and paid for by the taxpayers and are using it to enhance their image as providing a service to Washington State Voters. At the same time it allows them to do things like select top bills of the week and highlight certain bills in list placement in a very subtle way meant to influence people’s perceptions of what is before the Legislature. The state’s official website at http://www.leg.wa.gov/ is their source of information.

I have written several posts about the WashingtonVotes.org website.
WashingtonVotes.org Lacks Privacy Policy”
“Data Mining and Privacy Concerns at WashingtonVotes.org “

When I originally posted my concern about http://www.washingtonvotes.org/ lack of a true privacy policy, their website said “”By posting comments, inputting data, or engaging in any other form of communication on, with, or through the Washington Votes web site, you are granting USA Votes, Inc. a royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide license to:
Use, copy, sublicense, adapt, transmit, publicly perform or display any such communication.
Sublicense or transfer to third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the foregoing rights granted with respect to the communication.

The foregoing grants shall include the right to exploit any proprietary rights in such communication, including but not limited to rights under copyright, trademark,”

After I brought attention to this carte blanche “we can use any information you input” privacy policy, they completely eliminated this wording and now claim they don’t “release, sell or otherwise distribute” the names and addresses of people using the website. They have added extensive clarification to counter their previous non privacy policy.

I am glad to see that they have “clarified” their privacy policy and have dropped their previous claims to rights for anything said or done through their website.

Take it for what it is and what they say at your own risk. The Washington Policy Center’s “impartial information” questions global warming, opposes environmental regulations and worker’s rights and opposes taxes.

They currently have a so called analysis of Eyman’s Initiative 960 measure on their website, as well as the WashingtonVotes.org website, that reads like an Eyman press release. I-960 is a sneak approach to giving the minority control over tax and fees measures before the Washington State Legislature by requiring a 2/3 vote to pass these measures.

I-960 is unconstitutional in that it tries to void the Constitutional mandate that the Legislature vote by majority rules. Instead it would give 1/3 of the Legislature veto power over any tax and fee bills. The Republicans and right wing conservatives currently are a minority in the Legislature.

I-960 would overrule the vote of a majority of Legislators and give the minority control over taxes and revenue to fund the state budget. The minority is trying to grab power they lost when they couldn’t get the public to elect them at the ballot box. So they are trying to change the rules with I-960 so they can control the outcome.

The Washington Policy Center also have a series of papers that oppose Sound Transit and using tax dollars for public transportation. This might have something to do with Kemper Freeman, Jr being on their Board. Objective studies – I don’t think so.

Please contact these Democrats and ask that have their names removed from supporting the Washington Policy Center. They are not nonpartisan in their Board makeup and are not unbiased but have a free market right wing agenda that is contrary to most legislation the Democratic Party supports.

Rep. Maralyn Chase

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Lt Gov. Brad Owen – ltgov@leg.wa.gov

State Auditor Brian Sonntag – sonntagb@sao.wa.gov