Large gifts filling coffers for candidates, causes
With just two weeks left for voters to return their general election ballots, large amounts of money are flowing into some Washington campaigns for top offices and measures that propose major changes to state law.
The state Democratic Party reported a $350,000 contribution Monday to its gubernatorial candidate, Jay Inslee, who a local poll suggests is tied with Republican Rob McKenna, and who campaign disclosure records show is running behind in the money race.
A poll of 500 Washington voters conducted by 360 Strategies said McKenna and Inslee are each supported by 46 percent of those surveyed through the weekend. McKenna has raised about $12.1 million and Inslee about $10.6 million, although the Democratic former congressman’s totals don’t include Monday’s contribution from the state party or a $93,000 contribution last week.
At this point in the campaign, state law requires candidates and donors to report any contribution of more than $1,000 as a “last-minute contribution” on a special form.
Among the major last-minute contributions to various campaigns across the state:
• $250,000 from the National Education Association, which represents teachers, to the group opposing Initiative 1240, which would allow public charter schools in Washington. The state chapter of that union, the Washington Education Association, recently made a last-minute contribution of $50,000 to that same campaign group, People for Public Schools. The vote no campaign still significantly trails the Coalition for Pubic Charter Schools, which has raised a total of $9.1 million for the vote yes campaign, including some $3 million from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and $1.7 million from Alice Walton, a member of the family that controls Wal-Mart.
• $199,970 from the National Organization for Marriage, a Washington, D.C., group, to Preserve Marriage Washington, the group opposing Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. Since the beginning of October, NOM has sent slightly more than $1 million to the state campaign against the ballot measure.
• $150,000 from the Freedom to Marry Political Action Committee, a national organization supporting same-sex marriage, to Washington United for Marriage, the largest seven different groups supporting Referendum 74. The Microsoft Corp. also gave $50,000 to that campaign, and another national group, the Human Rights National Marriage Fund, gave $15,000. Washington United for Marriage has raised $10.8 million
• $150,000 from Peter Lewis, the chairman of the board and former chief executive officer of Progressive Insurance, to New Approach Washington, the campaign supporting I-502, which would make marijuana use legal under state law for adults in Washington. Lewis, who has spent millions to change marijuana laws around the country, is the biggest single donor to the pro-502 campaign, at slightly more than $2 million. That campaign has raised more than $5.4 million; two small campaigns opposing the measure have a total of about $16,100.