Tag Archives: corporate profits

Corporate Oil and Beer Profits Fuel Eyman’s I-1185 Signature Drive

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. 


We must amend the U.S. Constitution

The Citizens United ruling shows we must amend the U.S. Constitution

Our destiny – our laws and public policy – should be determined by people and the public interest — not by Wall Street banks and global corporations and their private interest.

In the Citizens United ruling (January 2010), the Supreme Court said that corporations have the same rights as persons to free speech, including political speech. This allows corporate entities to spend unlimited amounts to influence election outcomes and lawmaking. And they are doing it.

“One-person, one-vote” becomes “one-dollar, one-vote” — because of the power of money to purchase media, to influence election outcomes, and to influence laws with expensive lobbying.

  • Corporate influence in Congress is why Wall Street banks got big bailouts and bonuses.
  • It’s why health care insurance premiums keep rising and prescription drugs cost so much.
  • It’s why oil dominates our energy policy -and why corporate farms and food additives dominate our food supply.
  • And it’s why factories are closed when global corporate owners can make more profit overseas – regardless of the impact on local communities and families.

Can Congress overturn Citizens United by law?

No. When the Supreme Court declares a law unconstitutional, as they did in Citizens United, that takes precedence over any law or act of Congress.

Congress can try to bandage the damage within the scope of the Supreme Court ruling. But so long as corporate wealth shares power equally with people – protected as “free speech” through court rulings – campaigns, elections and lawmaking itself will be auctions, “for sale” to the highest bidder.

Public financing for campaigns would partially offset the power of private wealth. But only an amendment to the constitution is durable as “the final word” to protect American democracy.

Can states take action to limit undue corporate influence?

States can amend their constitutions to prevent undue influence by wealthy donors and political speech by global corporations. And they should. Corporate charters granted by states can specify what a corporation is allowed to do. Some states and local cities are passing laws that limit corporate activity to the economic sphere only, and prohibiting corporations from engaging in political electioneering.

But such state laws might be overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court – using the same reasoning as in the Citizens United ruling – unless the Constitution is amended.

Constitutional amendments have been done before

In 1971, the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted by 3/4ths of the states – within four months! — giving voting rights to anyone 18 or older. It was motivated by popular uprising resulting from the Vietnam War era: “If I’m old enough to be drafted, I’m old enough to vote!”

Boston Tea Party (1773) — a response to undue corporate influence

Our nation’s founding began when the American colonies rose up against a corporate monopoly. The East India Tea Company used their wealth and power in the British Parliament to achieve tax preferences on imported tea – undercutting local business in the American colonies. In effect, this “WalMart-ization” of the tea trade led to the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the great American experiment in democracy.

Now, two centuries later, we have global corporations exercising their wealth and muscle in our democracy. It’s time once again to reclaim the vision and promises of our nations’ founding – and to amend the constitution to spell it out. People – not corporations, and not wealth and privilege – should determine our nation’s destiny!
And we must amend the U.S. Constitution to clearly say so.

Craig Salins is Executive Director of Washington Public Campaigns, www.washclean.org

Initiative 1053 is a Corporate Power Grab to Control the Legislature

BP Corporation North America, Conoco Phillips, Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, Alaska Airlines, Liberty Mutual, US Bank. What do all these corporations and banks and insurance companies have in common? They helped bankroll I-1053 along with Tim Eyman.  They are doing a power grab trying to take away majority votes in our State Legislature and vest power in a minority of Legislators that would comprise only 1/3 of the Legislators in either House of the Legislature.

Why are they doing this? Because they can more easily convince 17 out of 49 Senators  to support their corporate no tax agenda than convince 25 Senators to do so.  It is a blatant power grab. Under I-1053, only 17 Senators (a 1/3 minority) out of 49 would be needed to oppose  repealing special interest tax exemptions like some out of state banks now get or opposing legislation to make polluters like the oil industry pay for cleaning up toxic waste caused by use of the products they sell.

Corporations and banks and insurance companies put their profits as their bottom line, not the public good.  Our elected  State Legislature helps to provide a balance between corporate profits and the public good. Framers of our Washington State Constitution understood that making decisions by a majority vote was the fairest way to make decisions. They wrote it into the Washington State Constitution in Article II, Section 22, which states the Legislature shall act by majority votes.

Trying to require a 2/3 vote for some decisions like taxes,  will specifically benefit corporations and their profits over the public health and welfare. Such a proposal is unconstitutional.  One could just as easily argue that because tax exemptions for businesses and corporations remove revenue from the State budget, that a 2/3 vote should be required to continue existing tax exemptions and create any new tax exemptions. Exemptions should not be given lightly because they place more of a burden on other taxpayers to make up for the revenue lost.

Of course the same corporations supporting I-1053 would oppose this. Yet it is just as logical as their proposal. The unfairness here is also that the current tax exemptions in state law were passed by a simple majority but under I-1053 a 2/3 vote would be required to repeal any exemption because it is defined as increasing taxes. It doesn’t matter whether the exemption has outlived its usefulness or no longer provides any benefit to the state or the public.

I-1053 is the height or arrogance.  The two previous times it was passed by voters (I-601 and I-960), it squeaked by with a scant 51% to 49% vote.  It could nowhere near muster the vote numbers it is now trying to impose on the Legislature.  Voters should reject I-1053 for what it is – a backdoor approach to gain more power and profits for corporate interests at the expense of the rest of the state.

 Voters may think they are limiting their taxes but it is the corporations that are laughing all the way to the bank as they rake in more profits and pass the cost of their doing business in the state onto the public.  I-1053 will decrease the power of the average voter in the Legislative process and increase power in the hands of the self selected corporate elite that can more easily control a minority of 1/3 of the Legislators to further their special interest agenda and pad their bottom line.

Check out the list of big corporate interests and banks and oil companies and think to yourself why they want the public to vote for I-1053. Do you  think it is about the public welfare and health of our state and its voters or is it about their profits?  Do you think it is about educating our children and caring for the needy and seniors or salaries for corporate executives and bankers ?

Here’s a list of the largest donors, many who are based out of state,  that paid to put I-1053 on the Nov. 2, 2010 ballot.  All told some $1,023,115 was raised by corporate and business interests and Eyman.

BP Corporation North America, Warrenville, IL  $65,000

Tesoro Industries Inc, San Antonio, TX $65,000

Washington Restaurant Association $59,000

Conoco Phillips, Huston, TX $50,000

Equilon, Huston, TX $50,000

Washington State Farm Bureau $50,000

Washington State Association of Realtors $25,000

Washington Bankers Association $25,000

Northwest Grocery Association Washington PAC, Wilsonville, OR $15,000

Kemper Holdings LLC $20,000

Community Bankers of Washington $10,000

Sierra Pacific Industries, Redding CA $10,000

Schnitzer Steel Ind, Portland, OR $10,000

Simpson, Tacoma, WA $10,000

Wells Fargo Bank, Minneapolis, MN $10,000

Port Blakeley Tree Farms, Tumwater, WA $8000

WA Aggregates and Concrete, Des Moines, WA $7,500
Martin Selig $5000

Alaska Airlines, $5000

Boise, Boise, ID $5000

Cowles Company, Spokane, WA $5000

Darigold, Seattle, WA $5000

Liberty Mutual, Dover, NH $5000

Plum Creek, Columbia Falls, MT $5000

Sherman Bakery, Shoreline, WA $5000

Simplot, Boise, ID $5000

US Bank, Robbinville, MN $5000

Washington Food Industry, $5000

Washington Food PAC, Portland, OR $5000

Washington Lodging Association PAC, $5000

Washington Oil Marketers Ass.,Port Orchard, WA $5000

Weyerhauser, Federal Way, WA $5000

Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association $5000