Tag Archives: campaign contributions

McGinn and Murray lead in fundraising in Seattle Mayor’s Race

Fundraising through June 2013 for the Seattle Mayor’s race finds incumbent Mayor Michael McGinn in the lead followed closely by 43rd LD Senator Ed Murray. In third place was Councilmember Bruce Harrell followed by businessman Charles Staedecker.  Former Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck came in fifth. Two women in the race Joey Gray and Kate Martin trailed far behind. Two candidates, Mary Martin and Doug McQuaid reported raising no money.

While money is not always a deciding factor, as Michael McGinn showed in beating Joe Mallahan 4 years ago, it makes it a lot easier to compete and reach voters.

Here are the latest figures from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website for the candidates in alphabetical order:

Joey Gray raised $7819, spent $3009, debt $2293     -22 contributors

Bruce Harrell raised $232,809, spent $126,121 debt $ 26,780     – 971 contributors

Kate Martin raised $4556, spent $4064       – 34 contributors

Michael McGinn raised $258,032, spent $92,238, debt $9178      – 1382 contributors

Ed Murray raised $253,235, spent $126,121, debt $13,195        – 1109 contributors

Peter Steinbrueck  raised $135,402, spent $49,988        – 901 contributions

Charles Staedecker raised $192,616, spent $113,012      – 901 contributions


Tim Burgess, before he dropped out, raised $246,077 from 932 contributions and money wise would still have been in the thick of the race based on money raised.

The August 6th 2013 Primary Election is  less than a month away.  Ballots are soon being mailed out and the field will be narrowed to the top two candidates for the November 5th 2013 General Election.

Seattle School Board Candidates Mostly Low Profile and Low Fundraising.

Three Seattle School Board seats are up for election this year and two seats have Primary Elections. The School District has an odd hybrid electoral system where candidates run in a district in the Primary and city wide in the General Election.

Seattle School Board President Michael DeBell is running unopposed and will not be on the Primary ballot. In the second seat up, incumbent Mary Bass is opposed by 3 other candidates, Joanna Cullen, Andre Helmsletter and Kay Blum-Smith. The third seat is that being vacated by Cheryl Chow and has three candidates running. Wilson Chin, Charlie Mas and Betty Patu.

Despite the fact that the Seattle School District is in Seattle and of obvious interest to Seattle residents, campaign finance information for the candidates is not posted on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission website. This is something that the city should include, especially considering how often candidates running for Seattle City Council or Mayor seem to mention the issues of our schools.

Also conspicuously absent is the fact that there are no campaign contribution limits for those running for Seattle School Board. While candidates for city office are limited to accepting a maximum of $700 per person per election cycle, no such limits exist for Seattle School Board. Two years ago this allowed some large contributions by a few individuals to influence the outcome of the races to a significant degree.

The following information is taken from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website.

One candidate this year for School Board, Wilson Chin, has received 4 contributions over the limit for other city offices. Two were for $2500 and two were for $1500. All told Chin has raised only $9,938 but it is the most in his race for Position #7 in South Seattle. Betty Patu has raised $1,035 and Charlie Mas has reported no contributions to date.

In Position 5, Mary Bass the incumbent, has raised some $6,142 , including a loan of $3,000. One contribution from Nadean Bass was for $1,000. Kay Smith-Blum has raised $26,165 and spent $19,710 to date. Her fundraising includes some $10,720 from 86 contributors; a $7,200 loan and $7,000 of her personal funds. Her largest individual contribution was for $400. The other two candidates, Joanna Cullen and Andre Helmsletter reported no campaign contributions.

Two years ago the races for Seattle School District saw huge amounts of money spent, much of it coming after the primary and in contributions much larger than the $700 limit for Seattle City Council and Mayoral races. The money was a coordinated effort to put more “congenial” people on the Board who didn’t ask as many questions. It worked if that was what you wanted.

Sherry Carr raised $149,130 with 31 contributions over $700 totaling some $105,700.

Peter Maier raised some $167,000 with 30 contributions over $700 totaling some $101,500.

Stephen Sundquist raised some $116,775 with 35 contributions over $700 totaling some $61,000.

The goal of this extraordinary amount of money was to defeat candidates like Darlene Flynn and Sally Soriano who disturbed the powers to be by asking too many questions and not taking the word of school administrators all the time.

Those who replaced them brought different results. You got people, for example, who did not question an administrative decision still ongoing to build in a rare plant habitat at Ingraham High School. They also were the votes that picked the fuzzy math approach for new textbooks. As the Seattle Times wrote about the math textbook vote:

“The other side, however, did not make a case for the reform text.

They argued instead that the “Discovering” books had been recommended by a committee, and that the board should respect the committee. Board member Steve Sundquist said, “I should probably not be telling educators how to teach.”

They argued that textbooks aren’t that important anyway. Board member Peter Maier said the books “allow a variety of teaching methods.”

They argued that textbook adoption was too important to waste any more time. “How many classes are we willing to graduate while we disagree over textbooks?” said board member Sherry Carr.

So the dominant paradigm — and reform math is that — continues. Dominance has its privileges. The supporters of reform math did not have to define their terms or label themselves. They did not have to make a logical argument or show any data.

They engaged in what you might call a cooperative group activity, and led themselves to discover the books that were wanted.”

So far contributions this year seem much more subdued but we could see a repeat. It would be unfortunate if once again large contributions influenced the races and produced more yes votes toeing the line of the Seattle School Administration without asking the tough questions.

The Susan Hutchison Nonpartisan Myth

So if you made contributions to Dino Rossi, Dave Reichert, Mike Huckabee, Cathy McMorris, Mainstream Republicans, King County Republicans’ Central Committee, George Nethercutt and George W Bush but not to any Democrats and Democratic organizations is it honest to call yourself nonpartisan? Susan Hutchison, running for King County Executive seems to think it is.

I think it’s hypocrisy and deceptive politics. This morning on Upfront, Hutchison when asked if she was a Republican and conservative, evaded a direct response by stating that she was “running in a nonpartisan race and that’s intentional.” She claimed, “I’m a non-partisan, never affiliated with a party, you know we don’t register in this state.”

I looked up the word affiliate in the dictionary. While one definition of affiliate is “to take in as a member” a second definition is “to connect or associate (oneself with)” Since Hutchison is correct that no one registers by party to vote in this state, the next best way to identify party affiliation is by looking at who you connect or associate with by your actions.

So let’s judge her by her political actions. One key way you determine party connection or association is by who you contribute money to. Back in April Erica C. Barnett of Slog searched for and found a very identifying list of candidates that Hutchison gave money to. She entitled her post “Susan Hutchison, Partisan Republican” Here is the list of donations Hutchison made, based on Erica’s search of political donations made.

$500 to Republican Congressman Dave Reichert
$375 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi
$250 to Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (now McMorris Rodgers)

$1000 to Citizens for Accountable Elections, the group that made the King County Elections Director a nonpartisan elected position
$700 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi
$500 to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee
$100 to Republican King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg

$2,000 to Republican Congressman Dave Reichert
$1,000 to Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (now McMorris Rodgers)
$1,000 to Republican Douglas Robert Roulstone, who ran against Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen
$250 to Republican Supreme Court candidate Stephen Johnson, a darling of the religious right
$100 to the Mainstream Republicans of Washington

$1000 to ChangePAC, a BIAW-funded group that supported Republican Dino Rossi
$500 to Republican Congreeman Dave Reichert
$250 to the King County Republicans’ Central Committee
$100 to Conrad Lee, a Republican who sits on the Bellevue City Council
$50 to Jeff Sax, a Republican member of the Snohomish County Council
$50 to Jane Fellner, who ran against Seattle School Board incumbent Mary Bass

$3,000 to Republican George Nethercutt, who ran against Sen. Patty Murray

$500 to George W. Bush

In addition a check of 2009 campaign contributions at the PDC website found that in April she gave $800 to”nonpartisan” Reagan Dunn running for re-election on the King County Council.

Since 2003 Susan Hutchison has contributed some $13,525 to Republican candidates, Republican Party organizations and conservative causes according to public campaign fiance records. Of this no money was donated to Democrats or Democratic organizations. An additional $50 was donated to a Seattle School Board candidate that couldn’t be identified as to party.

You know someone by the friends they associate with and support. Hutchison has supported the campaigns of George W Bush, George Nethercutt, Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris, BIAW’s ChangePAC, Mike Huckabee, Dino Rossi, the King County Republican Central Committee and Mainstream Republicans of Washington.

It’s pretty obvious that her history is a strong affiliation with the Republican Party and conservative issues. Her “nonpartisan” gambit is just that, a campaign ploy to try to hide her political philosophy from the voter’s of King County.

Nickels and Mallahan Lead in Fundraising in Seattle Mayor’s Race

While incumbent Mayor Greg Nickels has raised the most money in Seattle’s Mayoral race, both he and Mallahan have about the same amount of money in the bank at this point. Greg Nickels has raised $481,279 through June 30, 2009 and spent $161,554. This leaves him with $319,395 cash on hand.

Contributors listed as working for the City of Seattle made up about one quarter of Nickels’ contributions – $126,816.

Meanwhile Joe Mallahan has raised some $296,985 and only spent $17,110. This leaves him with $279,875 cash on hand. The bulk of Mallahan’s money has come from his own pocket at this point. In May he made a $200,000 contribution to his campaign.

About one quarter of the rest of Mallahan’s contributions also came from where he worked. Contributors working for T-Mobile gave Mallahan some $28,890.

Below are listed contributions and expenditures for the other candidates also running for Mayor. The figures are from those filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for filings through June 30, 2009.

name …..contributions…….expenditures

Jan Drago…..$59,964…..$1.436

Michael McGinn…..$48,918 …..$5,339

James Donaldson…..$$22,777 …..$10,672

Norm Sigler …..$11,006…..$$6,471

The Primary date is August 18, 2009. The top two vote getters go on to the November General Election Ballot.

Larry Phillips Leads Fundraising for King County Executive

In the latest fundraising totals available from the Washington State’s Public Disclosure Commission, King County Counclimember Larry Phillips has raised some $395,173 through June 30, 2009 in his bid to fill the King County Executive seat vacated by Ron Sims.

Fellow King County Councilmember Dow Constantine has raised some $282,033.

The sole Republican running in the race Susan Hutchinson reported raising $211,976.

Representative Ross Hunter has raised some $194,382.

State Senator Fred Jarrett has raised $87,100.

Only two of these candidates will go on to the November election. The Primary Election date is August 18, 2009. All King County voters will be mailed a ballot several weeks before the primary.

The deadline to register to vote for the Primary is July 16, 2009 for mail in and address changes.
You can register in person at King County Elections in Renton through Monday August 3, 2009. More information on registering to vote in King County can be found on the King County Elections website.

You can check your registration on line by going to the Washington Secretary of State’s website as well as register on line. The on line registration deadline is July 16, 2009.

Should Money Buy "Free" Speech in Elections?

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.

Money Starting to Move into this year’s Seattle City Council Races

It’s still a pretty slow start but money is starting to move into this year’s Seattle City Council races. The Primary is in August so candidates have less than 5 months to get their campaigns together in order to hope to survive the Primary. The races are non-partisan and the top two vote getters will move onto the November ballot.

Four Seattle City Council races are up this year. Two incumbents, Richard Conlin and Nick Licata are running for re-election. Two City Council members are retiring – Jan Drago and Richard McIver. Fourteen candidates are currently running for Seattle City Council.

Below are the candidates running, followed by their fundraising total through March 31, 2009 and then what they’ve spent so far.

Position 2

Richard Conlin (incumbent)…. $69,511 ….. $14,770
David Ginsberg …. $10,234 ….$739

Position 4 – seat being vacated by Jan Drago

Sally Bagshaw ….$52,752 ….$23,802
David Bloom ….$27,274 ….$1,293

Position 6

Jessie Israel…. $14,919 ….$5596
Martin Henry Kaplan ….$13,450 ….0
Nick Licata (incumbent) ….$46,354….$25,272

Position 8 – seat being vacated by Richard McIver

David Miller ….$22,058 ….$7,896
Robert Rosencrantz ….$42,180 ….$31,533
Jordan Royer ….$35,485 ….$11,339
Rusty Williams ….$35,136 ….$6,358

Candidates not yet declaring a seat they are running for:

Mike O’Brien ….$33,167 ….$8,763
Dorsal Plants ….$967 ….$642
Robert Sondheim ….$1,854 ….0

Information obtained from Washington State Public Disclosure Commission and City of Seattle Ethics and Election Commission.

Port Commissioners Spend Public Money to Lobby for Unrestricted Campaign Contributions

A recent disturbing article in the Seattle Times shows just how out of touch some Seattle Port Commissioners are with the public they represent. The Port of Seattle lobbyist is lobbying the Washington State Legislature to oppose campaign contribution limits that the Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, other statewide office candidates and legislative candidates have to comply with.

The Port of Seattle actually encompasses King County. Homeowners help to subsidize the port by paying a portion of their property taxes to fund port operations. Besides port shipping operations, the port also operate the SeaTac Airport.

Pat Davis, President of the Port, is cited as saying the bill is “anti-democratic.” Funny thing is that when state citizens set up the original campaign contribution law, they did it by an initiative (Initiative 134) in 1992 that won by a 73% yes vote.

Pat Davis received some $56,000 that would have been prohibited by the proposed legislation. Seems to me to be a slight conflict of interest in her supporting the publicly paid Port lobbyist to oppose the legislative bill.

The reason for the legislation (3SHB 1226) actually came about because of the fact that Initiative 134 did not include the Washington State Supreme Court. In the last two elections the Building Industry Association of Washington has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into two State Supreme Court races that they won. In fact, in the most recent race, the BIAW candidate received more money from the BIAW than the other candidate received from all her contributions. According to Washington State Public Disclosure Records , Jim Johnson, the winner, raised some $538,418 to Mary Kay Becker’s $158,119.

Even if this bill passes it will still have a giant loophole. It does nothing to regulate so called independent contributions by PAC’s. Individual contributions need to be limited to a set amount per individual regardless of whether it is given directly to the candidate’s election committee or to some independent PAC that spends the money supporting the candidate. The influence of large contributions spent by entities like the BIAW circumvent the whole idea of linmiting large contributors from buying the election because they are still spent on behalf of electing that candidate even if not given to the candidate’s campaign committee. The most logical solution is to limit the amount any individual can give to an aggregiate total in a race. For example you could give $2700 total in the governor’s race. This total would include contributions directly to the candidate or to a PAC supporting the candidate or both but you could not give more than $2700 total in the governor’s race..

The BIAW spent some $569,009 of so called independent PAC money helping elect Rob McKenna Washington State state Attorney General. Giving a contribution directly to McKenna’s committee would have limited them to some $2700. Spending it separately from the candidate’s committee put no limits on how much could be raised from individual donors. That’s why on election night he personally thanked them for helping get him elected. Independent. Yeh right.

Also of note – the Republican Leadership PAC WA spent some $1,265,000 and the Realtor’s Quality of Life PAC some $101,862. Meanwhile you and I, if we had it, were limited to giving $2700 maximun in the race. Sounds fair right. This needs to change!

3SHB has passed the House and has had a hearing in the Senate. Urge your State Senator to support the bill. While it does only half the job, it is a step in the right direction.

Note- the contribution limit this year is $1400 for the primary and $1400 for the general election – for a total of $2800. The limit is adjusted by the state Public Disclosure Commission every 2 years to reflect inflation.