Tag Archives: Doug Sutherland

Legislature Should Act to Limit Special Interest Money in Elections

Representative Sharon Nelson is the prime sponsor of HB 1289. HB1289 would limit campaign contributions to candidates for public lands commissioner in Washington State from persons or entities that are regulated by, contract with, lease to or sell commodities to the public lands commissioner.

They could not “directly or indirectly pay or use, or offer or consent, or agree to pay or use any money or thing of value for or in aid of any candidate for the office of public lands commissioner: nor for reimbursement or indemnification of any person for money or property so used.”

The bill is patterned after a similar law limiting insurance companies from spending money for the State Insurance Commissioner race.

HB 1289 is proposed because a big loophole exists in Washington State’s campaign finance laws. They make a mockery of the supposed intent to limit special interest money in elections. This was evident in the 2008 race to elect the Washington State Public Lands Commissioner this last November.

Our current state law limits campaign contributions to a statewide candidate to $1600 for the Primary and $1600 for the General election. And on first look that appears to be what happened. If you check the contributions given to Republican incumbent Doug Sutherland’s campaign and to Democrat challenger Peter Goldmark’s campaign from individuals and corporations everything appears fine. None exceed $3200 total. Everyone seems to have an equal limit in their contributing money to try to influence the outcome of the election.

There is however no limit in Washington State on the amount of money that can be contributed to so called independent PAC’s supporting a candidate. And companies and individuals who benefited from contracts with the Department of Natural Resources repeated what they did 4 years previously in helping to get Sutherland re-elected then.

According to the Washington Public Disclosure reports they contributed lavishly to a PAC called the Committee for Balanced Stewardship. which spent some $573,000 on mailings to voters across the State urging them to re-elect Sutherland. The PAC was funded by contributions of a few special interests that benefited by receiving contracts from the DNR for timber harvest and other resource extraction like gravel. Their contributions greatly exceeded the $3200 they could have given if they contributed it directly to Sutherland. The companies that exceeded the $3200 limit are listed below:

Weyerhauser, Federal Way $100,000
Rayonier, Jacksonville, FL $75,000
Hampton Affiliates, Portland, OR $75,000
Glacier Northwest, Seattle, WA $50,000
Sierra Pacific Industries, Redding, CA $25,000
Green Diamond Resource Company, Shelton, WA $25,000
Longview Timber Company, Longview, WA $25,000
Green Crow, Port Angeles, WA $25,000
Murray Pacific, Tacoma, WA $20,000
Stimson Lumber Company, Portland, OR $20,000
Port Blakely Tree Farms, $20,000
Olympic Resource Management, Poulsbo, WA $15,000
Green Diamond Resource Company, Shelton, WA $12,500
Simpson, Tacoma, WA $12,500
M&R Services, Inc $5000
Vaughn Brothers, Colville, WA $5000

According to Brad Shanon of the Olympian, business interests objected to HB1289 at a recent hearing before the Legislature. No surprise there since they were the ones working the loophole to their advantage.

It is an affront to the speech and participation rights of Washington businesses in the political process,” Kris Tefft of the Association of Washington Business said of the proposed bill. “It imposes content restrictions on one side of a political debate while leaving free rein on the other side.” …
The Washington Forest Protection Association and Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association also weighed in against the bill.”

The business conflict of interest was obvious in Sutherland’s granting Glacier Northwest the right to remove gravel from Maury Island in a marine protected area and his granting of geoduck rights to a company that used public tidelands that it hadn’t leased originally.

On Feb 10, 2009 Goldmark announced that he was going to review the lease granted to Glacier Northwest just before Sutherland left office. As noted by the Tacoma News Tribune:

“Goldmark said his staff will review whether the 30-year lease signed by Doug Sutherland with a subsidiary of Glacier Northwest is consistent with the long-term sustainability and health of Puget Sound.

“I have concerns about how this dock will impact the long-term sustainability and cleanup of Puget Sound,” Goldmark said. “When these leases are signed, Washingtonians expect due diligence, and we must review this deal to make sure it is in lockstep with the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Plan.”

The lease allows the company to build a barge-loading pier on state aquatic lands in the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve.”

Washington state has at least several ways it can try to reduce the influence of independent special interest money in elections. HB 1289 of course is one approach to deal with a specific office. But independent expenditures by special interests are not limited to the Public Lands Commissioner race.

The BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) has spent enormous amounts of money trying to influence the outcome of specific elections, like the Washington State Supreme Court races, Governor, Attorney General and other races.

Other states limit such independent contributions to PACs. Here are some examples:

Alaska $500 per individual; corporations and unions prohibited
Connecticut $500/calendar year per individual, corporation or union
Massachusetts $500/calendar year; corporations and unions prohibited
Rhode Island $1000/calendar year; corporations and unions prohibited
South Carolina $3500/calendar year per individual, corporation, or union
Vermont $2000/2 year/election cycle per individual, corporation or union
West Virginia $1000/election; corporations and unions prohibited

You can check out the complete list of limitations on contributions to PACs by going to the National Conference of State Legislatures webpage .

Another way to try to limit the influence of independent contributions by PACs is to look at public financing of campaigns. See Washington Public Campaigns. They are pushing a bill this year in the Washington State legislature for public financing of Washington State Supreme Court races, arguing that” justice should not be for sale.”

Peter Goldmark is New Public Lands Commissioner

The race for Public Lands Commissioner in Washington State is over. Democrat Peter Goldmark has been declared the winner by the Associated Press. He ousted 8 year incumbent Republican Doug Sutherland.

The latest returns on the Secretary of State’s election site posted at 10:16 AM today show the race still tight. Goldmark leads with 1,059,007 votes (50.85%) to Sutherland’s 1,023,553 votes (49.15%). The difference is some 35,454 votes.

Goldmark out raised his opponent $1,055,464 to $601,351. However special interests like Weyerhauser gave money to the so-called independent PAC- the Committee for Balanced Stewardship to raise an additional $573,000 to support Sutherland.

This allowed Weyerhauser to skirt normal campaign contribution limits of $1600 per election for a candidate for statewide offices and contribute $100,000 to support Sutherland’s candidacy.

In addition the independent PAC – Realtor’s Quality of Life spent $28,780 to support Sutherland.

Contributions directly to a candidate’s committee are limited to $1600 per election or a total of $3200 for both the primary and general election. This is supposedly to reduce the influence of large money in campaigns but the loophole of unlimited contributions to independent PAC’s show how easy it is to skirt this limit.

The Washington Governor’s race also saw huge spending by so called independent PACs. The BIAW through it’s PACs contributed over $7 million to unsuccessfully try to defeat Democratic Governor Gregoire.

Both the Governor’s race and Public Lands Commissioner race were wins for Democrats being hit with huge amounts of special interest money. There is a real question that if Barack Obama had not been on the ballot as to whether or not these Democrats would still have won. The closeness of the two races raises the issue, particularly since some analysts are saying national issues affected many local races this year and that this may be a trend. Certainly the uniqueness and turnout of the Presidential race was a factor.

The idea of trying to limit the influence of huge amounts of special interest money going to PACs in Washington State is a legitimate issue to raise. The diluting by unlimited special interest contributions of the voice of those who abide by campaign spending limits is something that needs to be addressed in Washington State.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has done an analysis of state limitations on contributions to political action committees and the result is interesting. Here are some of the limits for individuals giving to PACs:

Alaska $500/yr, Arkansas $5000/yr, California $6000/election, Colorado $500/2 year cycle, Connecticut, $2000/yr, Florida $500/election, Hawaii $1000 election, Kentucky $1500/yr, Louisiana $100,000/4 yr cycle, Maryland, $4000/4 yr cycle, Massachusetts $500/year, New Hampshire $5000/election, New Jersey $7200/yr, North Carolina $4000/election, Ohio $10,670/yr, Oklahoma $5000 yr, Rhode Island $1000/yr, South Carolina $3500/yr, Vermont $2000/2 yr cycle

Meanwhile Washington State allows unlimited money from an individual to go to a PAC. Our only limit is that during the last 21 days before an election, no contributor may donate more than $5000 to a candidate or political committee.

The other limit some states impose on contributions to PACs is to limit corporate and union contributions. These include:

Alabama $500/election, Arkansas $5000/calender yr, California $6000/election, Connecticut $2000/calendar year, Florida $500/election, Hawaii $1000/election, Indiana $5000 state candidates, Louisiana $100,000 4 yr cycle, Maryland $4000/4 yr cycle, Mississippi $1000/calendar year, New Hampshire $5000/election, New Jersey $7200/yr, New York $5000 total/yr, South Carolina $3500/calendar yr, and Vermont $2000//2 yr cycle.

Meanwhile Washington State allows unlimited corporate and union contributions to PACs with the 21 day rule exception above limiting contributions to no more than $5000 in the last 21 days before an election.

Going even further, a number of states ban all corporate and union contributions to PACs including Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

We can do things differently in Washington State. While the US Supreme Court has overturned strict spending limits, they have agreed that reasonable limits on contributions are acceptable.

Equalizing corporate and union and individual contributions to PACs to be the same limits as those to candidate campaign committees seems a reasonable way to reduce the influence of special interests with huge bankrolls from overwhelming the voice of individual voters.

A limit of $1600 to contributions to candidate campaign committees and independent PACs per election would help stop the flood of special interest contributions trying to outshout the voices of individual citizens engaging in the electoral process.

Peter Goldmark Cautiously Optimistic About Winning

In an e-mail sent out today by the Peter Goldmark for Public Lands Commissioner, Goldmark states:

We always knew this was going to be a close election. As of 3:30pm today, we have 50.89% of the votes. With many ballots left to be counted, especially in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Spokane Counties, we are cautiously optimistic about last night’s returns.”

The Secretary of State’s election website gives the following breakdown as of 5:05 PM today:

Peter Goldmark……861,395 votes …… 50.70%
Doug Sutherland….837,727 votes ….. 49.30%

A county by county breakdown show Goldmark winning in 6 counties by the following margins:

King County ……….63.17% to 36.83%
Jefferson County ……….59.78% to 40.22%
Whatcom County ……….54.14% to 45.86%
Snohomish County ………52.23% to 47.77%
Cowlitz County ……….52.19% to 47.81%
Okanogan County ………51.20% to 48.80%

Sutherland is slightly ahead in Pierce County by 52.77% to 47.23% and in Spokane County by 51.23% to 48.77%.

Obviously the outcome will be affected by the proportion of votes coming from each County that has not yet been counted. Any votes remaining from King County, which represents about a third of the state’s voters, heavily tilts the results towards Goldmark winning. Because return ballots mailed by voters yesterday may still not have been received by the counties, this race remains up in the air and will for at least a few more days.

King County election results were last updated at 2:30 P.M. today. They report that out of 1,108,128 registered voters in King County that they have counted, some 251,439 poll ballots were cast and some 194,753 absentee ballots have been counted. This total of 446,252 votes counted so far represents some 40.2% of the voters. Turnout is estimated to be around 80% or more so only about half the potential votes cast have been counted in King County as of now.

6:37 PM update 11/5/2008

Peter Goldmark …..867,784 …..50.68%
Doug Sutherland ….844,403 ….49.32%

Right now Goldmark leads by 23,381 votes.

Timber Interests Plan Last Minute Half Million Dollar Blitz Against Peter Goldmark

Peter Goldmark is the Democrat running for Public Lands Commissioner in Washington State. According to the latest Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) reports Peter Goldmark has out raised his Republican opponent Doug Sutherland, the incumbent, $841,775 to $578,052. Goldmark’s fundraising is impressive considering that about 50% of Sutherland’s money is coming from timber and mining interests.

But lurking in the shadows is an independent PAC called the Committee for Balanced Stewardship. It has a war chest totalling $594,910. In 2004 this same committee spent over $322,000 doing last minute mailers supporting Doug Sutherland’s campaign for Public Lands Commissioner. Sutherland won that race against Mike Cooper.

The Committee for Balanced Stewardship is going to again spend all its money to try to re-elect Sutherland. But something is wrong when a special interest PAC comprised of mostly timber interests is raising more money to support the candidate than the candidate is raising.

And to top things off many of these timber and mining interests are giving to both campaign committees. Over half of the contributions to Sutherland campaign are from timber and mining interests.

Contributions directly to Sutherland’s campaign are limited to $1600 per election (primary and general are separate elections). But the same contributor giving money to a PAC like the so called Committee for Balanced Growth can contribute as much as they want to try to influence the outcome of the election.

That’s why you’ll see Weyerhauser has given Sutherland’s campaign $1400 but has also given the Committee for Balanced Stewardship $100,000. So much for limiting the influence of big money in elections. As long as the loophole exists that money given to a so-called independent PAC has no limits, companies like Weyerhauser will use their corporate dollars to try to disproportionately influence the outcome of the election to get their candidate elected.

This loophole gives big money interests that stand to profit from the election of their candidate a decided and unfair advantage in trying to influence the outcome of the election. Regular donors who give directly to the candidate, see their ability to affect the outcome of the election diminished.

The loophole as written for no limits on contributions to independent PAC’s says if you are wealthy or have corporate money to spend, you have a huge advantage in trying to affect the outcome of the election by your greater ability to reach the voters with your message.

So who is basically skirting campaign contributions limits to Sutherland by giving to the so-called independent PAC. Here’s the list of corporate interests donating to the Committee for Balanced Stewardship that is trying to keep Republican Sutherland in office:

Weyerhauser, Federal Way,WA $100,000

Hampton Affiliates, Portland, OR $75,000

Rayonier, Jacksonville, FL $75,000

Glacier NW, Port Angeles, WA $50,000

Green Crow, Port Angeles, WA $25,000

Sierra Pacific Industries, Redding, CA $25,000

Port Blakely Tree Farms, Tumwater, WA $20,000

Stimson Lumber Co, Portland, OR $20,000

Longview Timber Co, Longview, WA $25,000

Green Diamond, Shelton, WA $25,000

Olympic Resource Mgt, Poul;sbo, WA $15,000

Simpson, Tacoma, WA $12,500

Murray Pacific, Tacoma, WA $20,000

Vaagen Brothers, Colville, WA $5000

With the Committee for Balanced Stewardship’s money and Sutherland’s campaign money, timber and mining interests will comprise about 3/4 of the money spent to try to re-elect Doug Sutherland. They want to keep their cozy relationship with the current Commissioner of Public Lands. All the more reason to vote for Peter Goldmark. Public lands should be for public good not private gain.


Peter Goldmark’s Opponent Raking in Timber and Mining Money

Peter Goldmark is the Democrat running for Public Lands Commissioner in Washington state. Goldmark leads in raising money over his Republican opponent Doug Sutherland, the incumbent. But the two campaigns are drawing money from very different donors.

Sutherland’s campaign is awash in special interest money from timber and mining companies. His donor list reads like a who who in the resource extraction business, whether it be trees or minerals.

Peter Goldmark has raised over $418,667.81 in cash and in kind contributions. Doug Sutherland has raised $353,121.40.

A breakdown of Sutherland’s contributions finds some 219 contributions from timber and timber related interests contributing a total of $145,809. This comprises 41.5% of Sutherland’s contributions. This is a conservative figure because not all contributors were identified as to their employer or their occupation. State law, for example, does not require this disclosure on contributions under $100 total.

Some of Sutherland’s larger timber associated contributors include:

Buse Timber & Sales (Everett, WA) $1600
John D Crow, Chairman, Green Crow (Port Angeles,WA) $3200
Freres Lumber Company, Inc (Lyons, RI) $3200
Hampton Lumber Sales (Portland, OR) $1600
Roseburg Forest Products (Roseburg, OR) $1600
RSG Forest Products, INC (Kalama, WA) $3200
Janes Warjone, Chairman, Port Blakely Tree Farms, LP (Seattle, WA) $3200
Zip O Log Mills (Eugene, OR) $1600
George Emerson, Manager Sierra Pacific Industries (Bella Vista, CA) $1400
Bob Lewis, Manager Columbia Vista Corp (Vancouver, WA) $2800
Murphy Hardwood Plywood Division (Eugene, OR) $1400
Murray Pacific (Tacoma, WA) $1400
Rayonier (Hoquiam, WA) $2800
SDS Company (Bingen, WA) $2800
Sierra Pacific Industries (Redding, CA) $2800
Simpson (Tacoma, WA) $1400
Weyerhauser (Olympia, WA) $1400
George and Wendy Weyerhauser (Lakewood, WA) $2800
American Forest Land Company, LLC (Ellensburg, WA) $1300
Green Crow (Port Angeles, WA) $2300
Columbia Cedar (Kettle Falls, WA) $1200
Forest Capital Partners (Boston, MA) $1200
Georgia Pacific Financial Management LLC (Jackonville, FL) $1200
Port Blakely Tree Farms LP (Seattle, WA) $2500
Murphy Hardwood Plywood Division (Eugene, OR) $1000
Plum Creek Administrative Corp (Columbia Falls, MT) $1000
Starfire Lumber (Cottage Grove, OR) $1000
Stimson Lumber Company Coeur D’alene, ID) $1000
Seneca Jones Timber Company (Eugene, OR) $2600

Another prominent source of contributions has come from mining and mineral extraction interests which do business with the DNR.

Echo Bay Minerals (Republic, WA) $1600
Tim Spraldin, owner Spraldin Rock Products (Hoquiam, WA) $1600
Asphalt Paving Association (Seattle, WA) $1400
Glacier Northwest (Seattle, WA) $2800
WA Aggregates & Concrete Association (Des Moines, WA) $2800
Cadman Heidelberg Cement Group (Redmond, WA) $1000
Kinross (gold mining) (Oroville, WA) $1000
Lakeside Industries (“asphalt, heavy highway construction”) (Issaquah, WA) $1000

The Commissioner of Public Lands oversees leasing and management of tidelands in Puget Sound and waterways on public DNR lands. Various shellfish and other seafood interests have also given to Sutherland. These include:

Northwest Marine Trade Association (Seattle, WA) $2200
Washington Geoduck Association (Bainbridge Island, WA) $1000
Bill Taylor, owner Taylor Shellfish (Olympia, WA) $750
Alaska Ice Seafoods (Bainbridge Island,WA) $500
Chelsea Farms LLC Olympia, WA) $500
Coast Seafoods Company (South Bend, WA) $500
William F Dewey, owner Taylor Shellfish (Shelton, WA) $500
Intertidal Farms (Olympia, WA) $500
Penn Cove Shellfish (Coupeville, WA) $500
Seattle Shellfish LLC (Olympia, WA) $500
Earl Steele Owner Rock Point Oyster Co. (Quilcene, WA) $500
Paul Taylor ,owner Taylor Shellfish (Olympia, WA) $500

Another source of contributions for Sutherland has been from energy and oil companies, particularly ones interested in leasing sites for wind power:

ConocoPhillips (Sacramento, CA) $1000
Iberdrola Renewables (Portland, OR) $900
MPC Shareholders Fund (Tacoma, WA) $900
Puget Sound Energy (Bellevue, WA) $1600
Pacific Power/Rocky Mountain Power (Portland, OR) $ 800
ENXCO(wind) (Carlsbad, CA) $600
BP North America Employee PAC (Warrenfield, IL) $500
TESORO Companies, Inc (San Antonio, TX) $ 500
Daren Huseby, Brookfield Power (wind)(Portland, OR) $300
David W McClain VP Everpower Renewables Corp (Beaverton, OR) $300
Dana Peck, developer, Horizon Wind Energy(Goldendale, WA) $300
James Walker,wind industry, self employed (Carlsbad, CA) $300

Seventeen people listed as employees of the Department of Natural Resources which the Commissioner of Public Lands oversees have given $11,200.

By contrast almost all of Peter Goldmark’s contributions have come from individuals. The only two exceptions are 6 contributions( including two in kind) totalling $46,577.02 from the Wa ST Democratic Central Committee and fourteen contributions from labor unions totaling $12,800.
Labor contributions to Peter Goldmark include:

Electrical Workers #46 PAC (Kent, WA) $1600
Sheet Metal Workers Local 66 (Kirkland, WA) $1600
Watate Construction and Building Trades Council (Olympia, WA) $1600
Washington Education Association (Federal Way, WA) $1600
IBEW Local 77 PAC (Seattle, WA) $1000
IBEW Local 76 (Tacoma, WA) $1000
Washington Teamsters Legislative League (Tukwila, WA) $2000
Washington State Labor Council (Seattle, WA) $800
IBEW Local 112 PAC (Kennewick, WA) $700
Amalgamated Transit Union (Seattle, WA) $ 300

Individual donors contributing $3200 included Julie Edsforth and David Tagney Jones.
Inslee for Congress gave $3000 and Peter Goldman $2800, Martha Kongsgaard $2800.
More individual donors can be seen on the PDC’s website.

Note – This contribution analysis is based on donors to both campaigns as available on July 13, 2008 on the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website at http://www.pdc.wa.gov/.
Also for the record I have donated a total of $65 to the Peter Goldmark campaign.
Steve Zemke