The right-leaning Building Industry Association of Washington recently settled charges of concealing funds it later used to promote Dino Rossi’s 2008 gubernatorial campaign. Meanwhile, Moxie Media – a campaign consulting firm with a left-leaning clientele – is currently facing charges that it violated state election laws by not disclosing the source of money used to pay for two mailers sent to thousands of voters in the final days of the 2010 primary.
Some people see nothing wrong with any of this. Tim Eyman recently wrote, “It’s clear that money doesn’t matter. Voters don’t care which side has more money; they care which side has the better argument” (Viewpoint, 12-15). If that were true, then there should be no need for those participating in the process to obscure where their money is coming from or where it’s going.
While the amount of money being spent on political campaigns isn’t likely to decrease, the health of our democracy depends greatly on citizens knowing where that money is coming from and on whose behalf it is being spent. Accountability begins with transparency, and our campaign finance laws need to be changed accordingly.
WashPIRG will be working during the upcoming legislative session to promote greater transparency in our campaign finance system and greater oversight authority for the Public Disclosure Commission so that voters will know exactly who’s spending how much to influence our political processes. We hope that we can count on our elected officials to do likewise.