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March 07, 2006

Contribution Limits for Judicial Races

Lots of good news coming out of the final days of this legislative season.  The Legislature has passsed a bill that sets campaign donation limits for judges.  They'll be limited to the same $2800 per election cycle as state legislative candidates.

Proving that campaign finance reform can be a bipartisan issue, the PI reports that the Legislature included an amendment by Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, that requires out-of-state PACs that support or oppose a candidate or ballot measure in Washington to report the names and addresses of donors giving $2,500 or more. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 7, 2006 at 08:43 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink


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Good news, yes, but only part of the answer of how to limit the overwhelming influence of huge special interest campaign money.
The problem is that the legislation only solves the most obvious thing that needed to be done to, which was to add contribution limitations to Washington State Supreme Court races. Does it solve the problem of special interests buying the election for their candidate? No!
The giant loophole remaining is that so called "independent" Political Action Committees or PAC's can raise and spend any amount of money they want. There are no contributions limitations for what can be given by an individual to a PAC in this state.
What is a consequence of this? There is no better example than the influence and power of the one special interest group that opposes growth management in this state, the Building Industry Association of Washington or BIAW, and their involvement in the last race for Washington State Attorney General won by Rob McKenna over Deborah Senn.
As I have noted on the MajorityRulesBlog which is tracking the campaign finance issue, “The BIAW spent some $569,009 of so called independent PAC money helping elect Rob McKenna Washington State Attorney General. Giving a contribution directly to McKenna's campaign 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 McKenna 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 maximum in the race. Sounds fair right. This needs to change!”

Posted by: Steve Zemke MajorityRulesBlog | Mar 10, 2006 11:35:56 AM

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