The Sightline Institute, a far left “think” tank based in Seattle, released a study that “analyzes the pattern of political contributions in the 2013 [Seattle] elections.” The study found that Seattle’s “most-giving neighborhoods (dubbed “Big Money Zones”) hold just 4 percent of the population, but they gave as much political money as the least-giving neighborhoods that house 64 percent of the city.” The “Big Money Zones” gave more than 18 times as much per person when compared to the least-giving ones.
This is, according to the Sightline Institute, a problem because the “Big Money Zones” comprise the city’s most privileged. These areas are “31 percent whiter and 85 percent richer” than the least-giving zones. Additionally, “homes in the Big Money Zones are two-and-a-half times pricier and four-and-a-half times more likely to have a mountain or water view.”
For that reason, the Sightline Institute claims to be supporting Honest Elections Seattle’s Initiative 122. The initiative—which made it to the November ballot—proposes to lower campaign contribution limits in Seattle and create a voucher program that allows every Seattle voter to donate $100 to city candidates.
The initiative allows Seattle candidates to opt into a system where voters can give $100 (a.k.a. “Democracy Vouchers”) to donate to candidates of their choosing. Another property tax hike would fund the $100 vouchers. In words, homeowners will fund vouchers for other to give to candidates of their choosing. The initiative is estimated to cost $30 million over a 10-year period.
The Sightline Institute’s staggering hypocrisy is made apparent when one considers the massive irony involved in passing the absurd initiative. KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz explains,
“But here’s a bit of irony. The campaign, Honest Elections Seattle, has raised $236,000 so far. According to The Stranger, much of that money has come from one guy, one outsider — a New York investor by the name of Sean Eldridge. So one person has primarily funded a campaign to get big money out of elections and to prevent a select handful from having influence in elections…
“Notice [liberals] never seem to get mad at the rich who fund ideas and campaigns they like. They’ll happily take Sean Eldridge’s money. Liberal activist Tom Steyer spent $74 million in 2014 campaigns. He was the single biggest public spender in 2014. You didn’t hear him get called out by progressives. They were too busy pretending the Koch Brothers are evil.”
As could be expected, the initiative contains a loophole for labor unions. Apparently, large special interest groups are free to bundle the “Democracy Vouchers” from members and direct the large contribution to their preferred candidate. In other words, I-122 backers like the Sightline Institute and others are peddling a snake-oil form of “democracy” meant to further empower the far left.
But, what is the point of it all? Do organizations like the Sightline Institute really believe that the Seattle Mayor and member of the Seattle City Council are not liberal enough? The Seattle Times shed light on the end game in its piece on the subject,
“How Seattle votes in November could have implications outside the city, according to Josh Silver, director of Represent.Us, a Massachusetts-based organization that advocates for campaign finance reform.
“Represent.Us, which has contributed $20,000 to Honest Elections Seattle, is looking into the possibility of running a Washington state initiative for democracy vouchers, Silver said. It would be a separate proposal from Seattle’s, with different details.”
Silver ended with the thought, “It makes sense that this would be attempted first in Seattle. Somebody has to go first with everything, including this voucher system.”
In other words, rich outsiders are pushing I-122 as a test. Seattle is the entry point to try and push a statewide initiative, all with a national agenda in mind. Ironically, that’s the very definition of rich people buying elections… with a long-term outlook twist.