Two independent political action committees seeking to influence the outcome of Spokane City Council races this fall have raised more than $100,000 combined in what could be the most expensive council campaign in city history.
Reports filed with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission show an escalation in the fundraising competition between the two PACs in recent weeks.
Citizens for Honest Government, backed by public employee labor unions, is supporting incumbent Councilman Jon Snyder in District 2 on the South Side and Candace Mumm, who is running for a vacant seat in District 3 in northwest Spokane.
That PAC raised $55,000 as of Monday’s reporting.
Jobs and Prosperity for Spokane, which is supported by business interests, has raised $68,000. The PAC is campaigning on behalf of former GOP state Rep. John Ahern, who’s running against Snyder, and Michael Cannon, who is Mumm’s opponent.
That doesn’t count campaign funds raised individually by the candidates.
Total fundraising has already surpassed $350,000 combined for the two races, with three weeks to go until ballots are counted. The candidates have said this is the most costly council campaign ever in Spokane.
Television commercials opposing Snyder and Mumm have appeared in recent days, criticizing the two for being “bought and paid for by special interests.” The ads were financed by the Jobs and Prosperity group, which took contributions from a range of business, development and construction interests. So far, it has spent $56,000 on the ad campaign.
Now, the Citizens for Honest Government PAC is preparing to mount its own television advertising campaign portraying Snyder and Mumm as supporting workers.
“We think it is really important to come out and speak up for working families,” said Melissa Carpenter, treasurer of Citizens for Honest Government PAC and an organizer for Service Employees International Union.
Carpenter said that the negative ads currently running in Spokane forced her PAC to change its strategy. Television advertising was still being produced on Wednesday, she said.
A report filed Monday with the PDC showed Citizens for Honest Government made a $20,000 advertising purchase.
Last summer, the same PAC spent $9,500 on mail advertising supporting Snyder and Mumm.
Spokane ballots for the Nov. 5 general election will be arriving at voters’ homes starting today. Since many voters typically return their ballots soon after receiving them, there is a sense of urgency among the campaigns to get their messages out now.
Citizens for Honest Government has two principal contributors – the Washington State Council of County and City Employees and Spokane firefighters Local 29.
Both unions have also contributed $22,500 each to the campaign for Snyder and Mumm.
In addition, the Spokane Regional Labor Council and the Washington State Council of Firefighters Support Team have contributed $5,000 each to the PAC.
So far, Snyder has raised $64,900, with top contributions from Spokane firefighters Local 29, county and city employees and other unions.
His challenger, Ahern, had raised $22,900, with top contributions from the National Association of Realtors, homebuilders and Vaughn Development Inc.
Mumm’s contributions stood at $82,700. Top contributors are unions, including Spokane firefighters Local 29, county and city employees and Spokane Committee on Political Education.
Her opponent, Cannon, had taken in $59,400. His top contributors are Theresa Sanders, Mark Smathers, Washington Association of Realtors PAC and Cannon Power Transmission, including Marcus and Michael Cannon.
Sanders serves as Spokane’s city administrator under Mayor David Condon.