November 4, 2011 in City

Millions spent for initiatives in final push

By The Spokesman-Review
 

OLYMPIA – Led by a multimillion dollar battle over liquor sales in Washington, initiatives and candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot have spent more than $18 million to sway voters in the past three weeks.

This may not surprise state residents who can’t turn on the television without seeing firefighters argue whether voters’ lives will be better or worse if state-run liquor stores go away. Other state initiative campaigns have their own TV messages, and campaigns are filling mailboxes with mailers.

Campaigns were required this week to report all spending through Tuesday to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Campaigns won’t file their final reports until Dec. 12.

Tuesday’s deadline covers some of the most intense spending of any campaign season, the period when ballots are mailed and arrive in the homes of the state’s 3.6 million voters. State law requires campaigns to report all expenses, from staff salaries to ads.

Of the $18 million, more than half was spent on Initiative 1183, a measure that asks whether the state should end its monopoly on liquor sales.

Fueled by record contributions from Costco, the Yes campaign spent more than $7.5 million since mid-October, with $3.5 million going to a final push in television and radio commercials. Overall, the Yes on 1183 campaign has spent about $13 million on managing, producing and broadcasting commercials.

The No campaign, which is funded in large part by liquor, wine and beer distributors, spent $4.4 million in the past three weeks, with its biggest expense going for printing and mailing ads to voters. The No campaign didn’t report any television ad expenses this week, although it had booked some $8.8 million worth of television and radio commercials, previous expense reports show.

The only other campaign that spent more than $1 million in the past three weeks was Keep Washington Rolling in opposing Initiative 1125, a plan to place restrictions on toll roads, bridges and some other transportation projects. That campaign spent nearly $1.6 million since mid-October.

The campaign supporting I-1125 reported spending just $2,560 since mid-October.

In Spokane, the top-spending campaign in the past three weeks was that of mayoral challenger David Condon, who spent about $71,000 since mid-October. Incumbent Mary Verner reported expenses of slightly more than $29,000.

Jobs and Opportunities Benefiting Spokane, a business group opposing the city of Spokane’s Proposition 1, spent almost $63,000. Spending by Envision Spokane, the group that drafted and is supporting Prop. 1, just topped $11,000.

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