September 4, 2008 in Voices

Churches take on Death with Dignity

Richard Roesler Staff writer

Catholic groups are ramping up their opposition to I-1000, using the recent Labor Day weekend to launch church-based campaigns against the Death with Dignity ballot measure.

Each parish is getting brochures, DVDs, posters and prayer cards, as well as a voter-registration display to be placed in each church’s vestibule, according to a recent memo to priests from the state Catholic Conference. Also, parishes launched a “special financial appeal” on Labor Day weekend to help derail the measure, which would legalize assisted suicide.

“Is this even legal?” asked Yes on 1000 spokeswoman Anne Martens in a recent e-mail to reporters. “…Aren’t there IRS rules about churches spending all of their time and money on campaigning?”

Answer: Yes, it seems legal, although yes, there are IRS rules.

In 1954, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson sponsored a successful move in Congress to generally ban churches and charities from political campaigning. Those who break the rules risk losing their tax-free status.

But according to the IRS, the ban specifically involves candidates. Churches and other tax-exempt organizations “can engage in a limited amount of lobbying (including ballot measures) and advocate for or against issues that are in the political arena,” the IRS said in an advisory last year on the matter.

The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide continues to draw contributions from Catholic parishes across the country. Churches in Mercer Island ($20,000), Phoenix ($1,000), Boise ($1,000) and many other cities have contributed recently, as have the Bishops of Manchester, N.H., ($500) and Chicago ($5,000).

The coalition, with its $387,000, is still far behind I-1000 proponents, who’ve raised $1.8 million. But proponents spent heavily – $1.4 million to gather signatures and launch the campaign. So two months from Election Day, both sides are not that far apart on cash on hand.

Rossi looks for votes in an unlikely place

As erstwhile Republicans took the stage at the Democratic convention in Denver last week to say they’d cross party lines and vote for Obama, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi was hoping to get some Democrats going the other way.

Right before and after Obama’s prime-time speech, Rossi aired a video on network and cable stations, urging Democrats to back him.

“Tonight the Democrats have a nominee. I agree with them on this: change is needed,” Rossi says in the video.

“But not just in Washington, D.C.”

In the ad (and on the campaign trail), he made an appeal for a philosophical majority behind fiscal responsibility, and pledged to reach across party lines.

Meanwhile, in Denver

In Denver, Gov. Chris Gregoire had this to say about Obama’s nomination:

“You can feel the electricity in Denver. People are united. People are hopeful and, most importantly, they are ready to win.”

After bruising race, Lindauer backs Parker

Trailing his Republican primary opponent by more than 3,000 votes, Spokane’s Mel Lindauer last week conceded and is urged supporters to back rival Kevin Parker.

“With the majority of District 6 votes now tallied, it is clear Kevin Parker is the Republican candidate of choice to continue on to the General Election,” Lindauer wrote to supporters. “I want to congratulate him on a hard-fought campaign. He did an outstanding job.”

Lindauer got 8,191 votes to Parker’s 11,242.

The Democratic incumbent, state Rep. Don Barlow, D-Spokane, got 17,201. (A fourth candidate, independent Marcos James Ruiz Jr., received 1,100 votes.)

Lindauer said that although he’s turning his attention back to his optometric practice and family, he intends to stay active in state and local politics.

“With the Primary Election over, it is important to now focus on the Republican Party winning back the District 6 legislative seat lost in 2006,” he wrote. “I lend my full support to Kevin Parker and I urge my supporters to do the same.”

Interestingly, the results in the primary track almost exactly with the number of votes the district’s other House seat got: 52 percent.

All of which suggests that Barlow – who ended a long Republican run in that seat when he ousted incumbent John Serben two years ago – has some work to do. As does John Driscoll, the Democrat who will challenge Ahern in November.

Republicans maintain that turnout in the primary was tilted slightly in favor of Democrats, which would give Barlow and Driscoll more cause for worry. But the expectation among Democrats is that Barack Obama’s presence on the November ballot will spur a blue-voter tide that will lift all Democratic boats.

Richard Roesler can be reached at (360) 664-2598 or by e-mail at

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