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Immigration initiative backers buy ad insert

Wed., June 24, 2009, midnight

A group pushing an initiative to change immigration law in Washington paid to insert 77,000 petitions in today’s Spokesman-Review.

They’ve used a similar tactic to distribute copies of Initiative 1043 petitions in Yakima, Ellensburg, Republic and the Olympic Peninsula as the July 2 deadline for signatures draws near, Craig Feller, of Respect Washington, said Tuesday.

The group wants the state to verify citizenship of people seeking government services such as driver’s licensing. The initiative also would require employers to verify citizenship when hiring workers. Respect Washington sponsored a similar measure as an initiative to the Legislature last year, but it didn’t get enough signatures to turn it in.

Feller said the initiative organization spent $8,000 to print and distribute the petitions in the S-R, and about $20,000 statewide for the newspaper blitz, which started around Memorial Day.

The group listed only $100 in its Public Disclosure Commission reports as of June 10, but Feller said those reports are being corrected. The group needs signatures of about 241,000 registered voters by July 2; Feller declined to say how many it had to date. He didn’t dispute a suggestion that initiative groups that distribute petitions via newspaper usually have a big gap to close.

“We wouldn’t spend the money if it weren’t necessary,” Feller said. “Our success will depend on the response.”

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