Last week, Shift highlighted how an out-of-state liberal network had funded the Seattle campaign “reform”: effort in 2015, and how the same donors are involved in this year’s statewide initiative to give Democrat politicians taxpayer money for their campaigns. Over the weekend, the Seattle Times decided to weigh in on its editorial page against this so-called “reform.”
As the Times was very pointed in its advice: “Reject this half-baked campaign-finance proposal, which seizes public dollars that should go toward higher priorities like education.”
Further, there is another path. “At the very least, Washington should wait a year and see how the Seattle experiment is working before plunging into a complex and expensive statewide system.”
This editorial was backed up with a lengthy analysis of the initiative, including an illuminating look at the I-1464’s funders:
“The group has more than 1,000 individual donors, but most are out of state, and most of the money has come from tech and Wall Street billionaires. The campaign has received $500,000 from Connie Ballmer, who is married to Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. It’s gotten $275,000 from Sean Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.
“The list goes on: $100,000 from William Von Mueffling, who runs a $12 billion New York investment firm; $100,000 from Hollywood producer J.J. Abrams; $99,999.99 from Hadi Partovi, a former Microsoft executive who founded the nonprofit Code.org; $75,000 from Pat Stryker, a philanthropist and heiress to a medical-technology fortune; and $75,000 from Jonathan Soros, an investor and the son of liberal mega-donor George Soros.”
So, when you consider the merits of I-1464, you might consider whether these donors care about Washington state’s priorities, or their own. As the Times points out, “Opponents worry that the proposed tax increase to pay for publicly funded campaigns would not be sufficient, leaving the state’s general fund to make up the difference. ‘That is taking money from other priorities, like schools,’ said Yvette Ollada, spokeswoman for No on Initiative 1464. ‘Any other priorities that the state might have should be put before funding political campaigns.’”
And that funding is substantial. According to I-1464, “State Senate candidates would be eligible to receive up to $250,000 in vouchers, known as ‘democracy credits,’ while House candidates could receive $150,000. A total $60 million in vouchers would be available for elections in even-numbered years.”
Can anybody else come up with priorities more important than taxpayer-funded political campaigns to spend that $60 million on every two years?