Spin Control

Gun initiatives: Where the money comes from

The vast majority of money supporting the initiative to expand background checks on guns comes from just 10 ZIP codes in the Seattle area, much of it from people with ties to the state's tech industry.

An analysis of contributions reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission shows more than $2.8 million in contributions for Initiative 594 – or about 84 cents of every dollar contributed – comes from downtown Seattle, areas around Lake Washington and Shoreline. So far the ballot measure to extend background checks from licensed dealers to most private sales has raised about $3.2 million, about three times more than the the campaign for a counter proposal.

Protect Our Gun Rights’ big donors are a trio of groups opposed to further gun control measures. I-591 would only allow changes to Washington’s gun control laws unless a uniform national standard is adopted. . . 

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The vast majority of money supporting the initiative to expand background checks on guns comes from just 10 ZIP codes in the Seattle area, much of it from people with ties to the state's tech industry.

An analysis of contributions reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission shows more than $2.8 million in contributions for Initiative 594 – or about 84 cents of every dollar contributed – comes from downtown Seattle, areas around Lake Washington and Shoreline. So far the ballot measure to extend background checks from licensed dealers to most private sales has raised about $3.2 million, about three times more than the the campaign for a counter proposal.

Protect Our Gun Rights’ big donors are a trio of groups opposed to further gun control measures. I-591 would only allow changes to Washington’s gun control laws unless a uniform national standard is adopted.

Topping the list of donors to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is Paul Allen, former co-founder of Microsoft, who gave the campaign $500,000 this month. He’s joined by former Microsoft CEO and new Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer, who has contributed $250,000 and wife Connie Ballmer who has given $325,000. Bill and Melinda Gates gave $25,000 each.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer has contributed $385,000 and other members of the Hanauer family have given another $110,000. Ann Wyckoff, a long-time Seattle area philanthropist and heir to the PACCAR fortune whose occupation is listed as “volunteer” on the PDC reports, contributed $226,000.

The group has about 4,800 individual contributors and has drawn some out-of-state support, including $30,000 from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national group which has former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as one of its co-chairmen.

So far, much of the $2.2 million the campaign has spent has been used for gathering signatures to get the measure on the ballot, political consultants and staff salaries.

Protect Our Gun Rights has received slightly more than $500,000 from Washington Arms Collectors, which bills itself as the state’s largest firearms and gun safety organization, and sponsors the state’s largest gun shows throughout the year. It has also received $280,000 in cash and another $141,000 worth of in-kind contributions from the Citizens Committee for the Right To Keep and Bear Arms, a Bellevue-based Second Amendment advocacy group. It received another $100,000 from the Gun Owners Action League, which lobbies the Legislature and Congress and endorses pro-gun candidates.

The group also has about 285 individual contributors who gave between $10 and $1,600.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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