Tag Archives: Washington Policy Center

Washington Policy Center Spouts Minimum Wage Nonsense

In a guest column in today’s Seattle Times, the Washington Policy Center spouts nonsense that Washington State’s minimum wage’s minimal increase of 12 cents next year is going to push young people out of the work force. It’s nonsense because it’s not backed up by any facts.  The author selectively uses numbers to try to imply that it is somehow causal. Just citing numbers doesn’t prove anything.

The headline in the print edition claims “Minimum-wage increase pushes young people out of work force” The Internet accessible copy states “Washington minimum wage is on the rise and hurting young people’s prospects”. Neither headline is supported by any facts.

This column by the free market think tank Washington Policy Center is just another  example of the selective use of numbers by the right wing to distort what is happening. It is an attempt to distort policy discussions by throwing in numbers to try to imply a factual basis for conclusions that are not supported by any facts.

The author trys to make his case based on a number that the unemployment figure for 16 to 24 year olds is 20% and that somehow this is related to having a minimum wage. No reference is cited for the numbers used.

I question including 16 – 18 year olds in unemployment figures. These people should be in school. What 16 year old do you know who is a high school graduate? Hence they are unskilled workers, undereducated, competing in a high unemployment market against people with a high school education or previous experience.

Check out the unemployment numbers yourself and you’ll see very different figures and age breakdowns from those cited by the Washington Policy Center. The national tables break out 16 -19 year olds as a separate category which makes more sense than breaking out 16 to 24 year olds.

.Here is the most recent Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics entitled “Employment Status of the Civilian Population by race, sex and age.”

Checking the reference above the Bureau of  Labor Statistics breaks out the black or African American population and cites ages 16 – 19 both sexes unemployment rate of 48% for Oct 2010.

For black men 20 and over the rate is 16.3%.

For whites, both sexes, aged 16 -19, the unemployment rate is 23.6%

For white men, 20 years or older the unemployment rate is 8.9%.

What does all this have to do with the minimum wage? The author’s claim raising the minimum wage is somehow contributing to high unemployment for youth is not supported by the use of the data they cite or data from  the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is pure speculation not backed up by any facts. The Washington Policy Center is a free market think tank and opposes government regulations and laws like setting a minimum wage.

The reality is that many people are unemployed. If employers have an option of hiring a high school graduate or an older person with experience versus a 16 year old,  they are going to probably hire the high school graduate or experienced person.

Young people are better off going to school. They will have higher incomes over their lifetimes. Most minimum wage jobs are dead ends or last resorts.

The headline of this article is not supported by any facts.

More likely, lack of an education or high school diploma and lack of job skills keeps young people out of the work force, especially in a market where there is high unemployment in general and more skilled older people are out of work and competing for the same job.

Besides any other considerations, the reality is that a the minimum wage of $8.67/hour translates to just $346.80 per week or $18,364 per year if you work every week or get any paid time off, like a vacation. This is gross pay, not net. It is pre-tax and pre-social security. Hardly overwhelming.

The Washington Policy Center’s Nonpartisan Joke

So how many Republicans can you invite to your Annual Dinner to speak and still call yourself nonpartisan? If you’re the free market right wing Washington Policy Center, its as many as you want. Because the joke is on anyone who believes the Washington Policy Center is really nonpartisan.

This year’s guest speaker is Jeb Bush – a REPUBLICAN, the President’s brother and a former Governor of Florida. He will be in Seattle tomorrow for the WPC’s Annual Dinner.

In 2006 it was conservative columnist George Will and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – a REPUBLICAN now running for President.

In 2005 it was turncoat former Democratic Georgia Senator Zell Miller – who backed REPUBLICAN George Bush for President and who spoke at the REPUBLICAN National Convention
and former Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn – a REPUBLICAN

Before that the Washington Policy Center says that Past Dinner honorees included:

Colorado Governor Bill Owens – A REPUBLICAN
former NY City Mayor Rudy Giuliani,- a REPUBLICAN now running for President
Karen Hughes – President Bush’s former speechwriter – a REPUBLICAN
Steve Forbes – twice a REPUBLICAN candidate for President
former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating – a REPUBLICAN

If you believe Zell Miller breaks the Republican label mold, then the joke’s on you.

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

Data Mining and Privacy Concerns at WashingtonVotes.org

WashingtonVotes.org is a website being sponsored and promoted in Washington state as a way to empower citizens to take a more active role in government. The website says it is free and nonpartisan. However its Washington State promoter and sponsor, the Washington Policy Center, is ideologically right wing and has an ideological agenda that is anti-government regulation and pro free market business interests.

The Washington Policy Center is a member of the national State Policy Network which Source Watch characterizes as “a professional service organization for the “state-based free market think tank movement.”

Visiting the Washington Policy Center’s website let you see what some of their recent action agenda has been.

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.

So what is their interest in setting up and maintaining a website that allows voters and citizens to access information about the Washington State Legislature? Isn’t this a good thing they are doing, helping citizens to be more informed on what the Washington State Legislature is doing?

In my recent post “WashingtonVotes.org Lacks Privacy Policy” I raised a serious question about whether or not the website is being used to collect and mine user data from unsuspecting users for information. I contend that it is. Reading their “terms of use” posted on the site says that a private entity, USA Votes, Inc actually owns the site and that, in their own words

“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. “

The WashingtonVotes.org site is patterned after MichiganVotes.org which has an almost identical “terms of use” agreement. What is curious here is that both Washington and Michigan have official state government Legislative websites which detail privacy protections for people using the state websites. I previously wrote about Washington’s.

Reading Michigan’s official state site privacy policy points out even clearer what it is you are giving up by using these websites that are privately run and owned by “free market” right wing think tank interests. You are agreeing to give up your privacy and letting information about your legislative and voting and political interests and positions be sold or used by those on the right wing for their own financial, political or ideological gain.

Here is the Michigan State Legislative website privacy statement:

“Types of Information Collected Online
Information collected online is usually defined as being either anonymous information (data that cannot be tied back to a specific individual) or personally identifiable information (data that tell us who you are, such as your name, address, e-mail address).
Anonymous Information Unless you provide additional information, the Michigan Legislature website collects only the following anonymous information as you browse through the website:
The domain name and browser used to access the Internet (e.g., aol.com, if you are using an America Online account); The date and time of visits; The pages visited; and The address of the website visited immediately prior to visiting the Michigan Legislature website We collect this information for statistical purposes(e.g., to measure site traffic) and to help us make our site more useful to visitors.

Personally Identifiable Information You do not have to provide the Michigan Legislature website with personally identifiable information to visit our website.The Michigan Legislature website collects personally identifiable information on visitors in the following ways:

Optional User Registration.You are sharing personally identifiable information when you sign up to become a registered user. When you register, it is not necessary to provide us with either your true name or your e-mail address. We request this information because, if you lose or forget your User ID or Password, this information will assist us in helping you regain access to your account. If you become a registered user, you will have complete access to your account information, and may change or delete any registration information that you choose.
Correspondence. If you contact the Michigan Legislature website by e-mail, we may keep a record of that correspondence as long as needed to respond to your question or to fulfill the stated purpose of the communication. However, we do not collect the e-mail addresses of users who communicate with the site’s administrators via e-mail.

Use of Cookies

The Michigan Legislature website does not use cookies.

Disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information The Michigan Legislature website does not disclose, give, sell, or transfer any personally identifiable information (to the extent given) to third parties, unless: We need to share the information to provide the service or information you have requested; or We are authorized to do so bylaw (e.g., to respond to subpoenas, court orders, or legal process).”

Contrasting the WashingtonVotes.org and MichiganVotes.org “terms of use” with their respective state’s official Legislative website’s privacy protections points out the lack of privacy protections on the USAVotes websites, which also include MinnesotaVotes.org, KentuckyVotes.org and UtahVotes.org.
From an organizational sense a website like WashingtonVotes.org can provide a lot of valuable information to the sponsors. The site is set up to encourage people to register for specific services, including being e-mailed about specific bills and preparing legislative watch lists and posting comments on bills. The site lets the sponsors know what e-mails are being sent to legislators. It lets them know what bills people are searching for by bill number, keyword or one of 50 categories. It lets them know what bills members of the media are tracking if they register and can track IPO’s even if they don’t register.

In addition the site let’s a right wing think tank prioritize what bills it wants to emphasize to the public. For example in searching by category like environment a series of 60 bills came up. They were not by bill number or date of action. Deciding which bills come up when is a subtle form of controlling access to legislative information.

Likewise, some 25 newspaper buy services of WashingtonVotes.org on voting information on the top five 5 bills each week. Again a right wing free market think tank is determining what is chosen and printed in newspapers.

One has to admit that WashingtonVotes is a clever way for the right wing to try to influence the legislative agenda and information voters access in Washington State. Re-packaging and promoting the information from the official Washington State Legislative website at http://www.leg.wa.gov/ and posting it on WashingtonVotes.org gives them a pulse on what is happening with both constituents and citizens while also controlling information access.

The Washington Policy Center is cleverly using the WashingtonVotes.org website to enhance it’s image as a good government group. But its lack of a privacy policy that protects its users from information on them being sold or used to promote right wing causes undercuts its credibility as an unbiased player in the political arena.

Until and unless the Washington Policy Center, WashingtonVotes.org and USAVotes Inc publicly disavow any collecting of personal information and sale or use of such information for either private monetary or political or ideological gain I urge people to not use their website. Almost all of the information is available at the official Washington State Legislative website at http://www.leg.wa.gov/. You don’t need to have some right wing snoop group invade your privacy and use or sell information on you to others.

Right wing WashingtonVotes.org Lacks Privacy Policy

If you want your communication between you and your Washington State Legislator to be private do not use WashingtonVotes.org because they don’t have a privacy policy. If you want your search results for Legislative bills and any other legislative searches to be private and not sold to private parties, do not do your search through the Washington Policy Center’s WashingtonVotes.org website. Use the official Washington State website at http://www.leg.wa.gov/ instead.

One can not accuse WashingtonVotes.org of not warning you. Each page contains a “terms of use” link at the bottom. Here’s the language that says your communication with your Legislator is not private and can be sold and given to third parties.

“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, “

Contrast this with the “Privacy Notice Information ” posted on the official state legislative website at http://www.leg.wa.gov/.

If you use a Representative’s or Senator’s email form, the address you provide is used to determine your voting district. The address and content that you submit via the member’s email form are forwarded to the receiving member. Your name, address, and the content of your message are not retained on legislative systems for any other purpose.”

The WashingtonVotes.org disclaimer says that

“This site is owned and operated by USA Votes, Inc. and contains material which is derived in whole or in part from material supplied by USA Votes, Inc. and other sources, and is protected by international copyright and trademark laws.”

While the site states that,

USA Votes, Inc. may provide links and pointers to Internet sites maintained by third parties. USA Votes, Inc. does not operate or control in any respect any information, products or services on these third-party sites.”

The link to communicate to your Legislator is not identified as an external link but is part of the site. So it is covered by the “terms of use” agreement.

In addition the site can collect information on you when you use other services it has. These include when you use its ability to search:

“….. every bill, amendment, roll call vote and voice vote.
Ability to track all the votes of a particular legislator, or search by bill number, category or keyword.
Ability to view all the bills and amendments introduced by a particular legislator.
Ability to post a public comment, view others’ comments, and participate in citizen surveys on each bill.
Automatically e-mail legislators or others about a bill.
Ability to follow action in any one or more of 50 different categories of legislation (such as Education or Land Use or Taxes).
Ability to sign up for e-mail notifications of action on any bill or subject area of interest, including new bill introductions.

The site can also track when you click “to register to vote”.

What WashingtonVotes.org is set up to do is collect information on you and your legislative interests and concerns. It is spying on you and your communications with your legislator as well as that of others who use the site. The site is set up to collect information and help in identifying and microtargeting voter’s positions on issues and their specific concerns. And it is being done by right wing free market conservative interests.

WashingtonVotes.org states that it is

“a free public service of Washington Policy Center, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization that does not lobby or endorse candidates”

However there is more to this than meets the eye. The Washington Policy Center is actually part of a national group of so called “free market” think tanks that oppose government regulation and taxes. Former Republican candidate Jack Kemp is quoted on WashingtonVotes ‘ website as calling them “The Heritage Foundation of the Northwest”

The information gleamed from Washington Votes.org becomes the property of USAVotes Inc. They can use and sell the information they collect on you about your legislative communications and issue searches through the website to others, like the National Rifle Association or the US Chamber of Commerce or marketing research firms that do micro-targeting for conservative causes.

The site allows very detailed microtargeting because a person can search both legislation and legislator’s voting records by 50 different categories or by bill numbers or keywords. USA Today in the 2006 election discussed

the sophisticated microtargeting techniques that have enabled Republicans to find and motivate potential supporters across the country….
Over the past six years, Republicans have become expert at finding them and anyone else with potential GOP leanings, even in states where voters don’t register by party.
In a process called microtargeting they collect as much information as possible about voters from public records, Census data and marketing research firms. That’s used to create profiles including everything from voting history, job and marital status to where people live, what they drive, what they read and whether they fish.
The end product is a score indicating someone’s likelihood of voting, of supporting one party or the other and of being interested in certain issues. Advocates then use that information to determine whom to contact and what kind of pitch to use.

In a press release issued in Jan 2006 by the Washington Policy Center it claimed that WashingtonVotes.org had 1.1 million visits and nearly 5 million hits for the 2005-2006 Legislative session. That’s a lot of identifying data.

Washington State is not alone in this collection of data for microtargeting. USAVotes.org is the brainchild of a Michigan based right wing free market think tank called the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. An identical looking website to WashingtonVotes.org is at MichiganVotes.org. It has an identical “Terms of Use” agreement except for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy owning the information.

Michigan was one of the first states that used microtargeting in elections. They still do. An analysis of the 2006 election by the Michigan Republican Party included the following information:

“Voter Vault and MicroTargeting
More than $250,000 was invested in technological upgrades to the RNC based Michigan Voter Vault file. Microtargeting, we dissected the statewide voter file containing records of more than 7 million voters using a hybrid of political survey and consumer marketing data. The result was a highly effective targeting tool that places those 7 million voters into more than 40 unique segments based upon their likelihood of voting Republican. Furthermore, those 40+ segments are dissected further into both propensity to vote and responsiveness to key issues. This allowed the MRP to highly target the messaging that was delivered to each voter via phones, mail, or in person at their doors.”

MSNBC.com in an article on Oct 18, 2006 entitled “Micro-targeting may be key to election” had the following statement:

“Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican party, explained how micro-targeting works:“We have two sets of IDs (voter identifications). We have the Republican National Committee ID that is done on the national level, and then each state has the ability to add what we call ‘affiliation codes.’ Each state will take different things they can get information on and add them to its micro-targeting universe.

WashingtonVotes.org and MichiganVotes.org are part of a larger strategy nationwide by conservative right wing groups to collect information on voters. USA Votes Inc, based out of Midland Michigan says on its website that it is “an organization devoted to assisting state-based organizations to launch and maintain state legislative information web sites.”

USA Votes states that they use

” the technology developed by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy for their highly successful web site,

MichiganVotes.org. USA Votes is the organization providing the Internet application and technical training to allow organizations to replicate this effort in their state. Our goal is to expand this concept so that all 50 states will have their own “Votes” web sites.”

“The network that we are using for sponsoring organizations is the State Policy Network, (www.spn.org), a national association of state-based, public policy research institutes. We will also be working through local Chambers of Commerce and other nonprofit organizations that support accountability in government.”
To date they have set up voting websites in 3 additional states besides Michigan and Washington. The other sites are: MinnesotaVotes.org, and Utah Votes.org, and KentuckyVotes.org

The irony is that the Minnesota State Legislature has its own website just like Washington State does. It’s at http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/legis.asp. Utah also has an official state legislative website at http://www.le.state.ut.us/. So does Kentucky at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/. The Michigan Legislative site is http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(gobsc455dm50ylfejmbvz255))/mileg.aspx?page=home

What the right wing is doing is repackaging information it takes off of the official state websites and then is trying to promote people using the USA Votes websites so they can mine information from citizens using their websites. They promote their websites as a free “nonpartisan” public service and can solicit money to support their collecting data which they can then sell or give to others to do things like microtarget voters for conservative campaigns or candidates or build up membership lists for right wing issue groups.

In Washington state they are also yielding power and exposure by selling information to newspapers. According to their Jan. press release Twenty-five newspapers around the state have subscribed to the WashingtonVotes.org Legislative Roll Call service for 2007 including The Seattle Times, Seattle PI, Spokesman-Review, Olympian, and Tacoma News Tribune. Each paper will publish the top 5 bills of the week and how legislators in their area voted on them. See examples – Tacoma News Tribune and tmcnet.com

In January a number of newspapers also responded to their press release and gave free promotion to WashingtonVotes’ website despite the fact that the Washington State Legislature’s website is the source for most of WasingtonVotes’ information.

All this helps to give WashingtonVotes more exposure in the legislative arena and get more people to use their website. In addition they are exerting information control on issues by deciding which 5 top bills they promote. They gain more control over state policy exposure and newspapers give up independence by letting a “free market”, anti regulation, anti tax right wing think tank decide what the 5 top bills of the week are.

Meanwhile the free to use publicly paid for nonpartisan official state Legislative website is not promoted by many of the news media. It is mostly state taxpayer funded compilation done by the Washington State Legislature and available at http://www.leg.wa.gov/ that is being used by the Washington Policy Center, USA Votes INC. and WashingtonVotes.org to promote and push the visibility and credibility of a conservative right wing free market agenda .

Frankly it is a rip off, deceitful and deceptive. The above is my interpretation of what to all intents and purposes appears to me to be a blatant invasion of privacy, a deceitful mining of data for ideological purposes and private gain. I think the Washington State Legislature and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office need to look into the operations of WashingtonVotes and determine if there is a deceptive and disguised effort to obtain information for private purposes and use of this data by nonprofit, for profit or partisan microtargeting consulting businesses or groups like the US Chamber of Commerce which is associated with the State Policy Network.

No matter how you interpret it, WashingtonVotes like MichiganVotes and the other websites, have been set up to help further the agenda of the “free market” anti regulation right wing think tanks. Using terms like free and nonpartisan are only a cover for the real purpose of these websites. I urge Washington citizens, organizations, the media, bloggers, political activists and others to not use WashingtonVotes to communicate with Legislators or to promote this site set up to help further the right wing agenda pushed by conservative and libertarian think tanks.