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Firefighters, other unions are top contributors to Tacoma candidates

Post by David Wickert on Oct. 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
October 7, 2009 5:44 pm

firefightersI’ve been looking at campaign contributions to Tacoma candidates in recent elections. One things stands out: public employee unions dominate the list of top contributors.

An analysis of state contribution records shows unions representing city employees have given more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to Tacoma candidates since the 2003 elections. Five city employee unions are among the top 10 contributors to city candidates since 2003. (See the top 10 list below).

Leading the way is the Tacoma Professional Firefighters Union, which has given nearly $30,000 to city council and mayoral candidates. The union is the top contributor to Tacoma candidates in recent elections.

The Tacoma Police Union is second among all contributors, giving $23,500. Other top contributors in recent elections include the local Master Builders Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Simpson Investment Co.

Several elected officials say public employee unions – especially the firefighters – are the most influential group in Tacoma politics. We’ve got calls in to the firefighter and police unions. But I’m also interested in speaking with individual Tacoma firefighters and police officers. What are the city issues you care about? What do you look for in candidates? What do you hope your contributions will accomplish? Give me a call at 253-274-7341 or e-mail me at david.wickert@thenewstribune.com.

Below is the list of top 10 contributors to Tacoma council and mayoral candidates from the 2003 election cycle through early September of this year.

Tacoma Professional Firefighters Union $29,421
Tacoma Police Union $23,500
Master Builders Association $19,100
Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $17,783
Simpson Investment Co. $17,200
Weyerhaeuser family $14,275
Joint Labor Committee of Tacoma $13,000
Lea Armstrong, CEO of Armstrong Uniserve Inc. $10,900
Teamsters Union $10,850
Rusty George Design $9,600

The list doesn’t include candidates who sank money into their own campaigns (Marty Campbell, for example, has contributed more than $17,000 to his own campaigns, mostly in the form of in-kind contributions of office space at his Jefferson Street business).

Also, the contributions above are probably incomplete. State laws have changed over time. Candidates who didn’t raise a certain amount of money didn’t have to file detailed contribution reports, so any contributions they received aren’t included. Also, the union contributions don’t count money contributed by individual members. And the figures for most of the businesses on the list don’t include contributions from company executives. Still, this is about as close to a definitive list of top contributors as you can get.

Want more information? Here’s an Excel spreadsheet detailing all of the contributions from the top 10 contributors above.

A couple of notes on the spreadsheet: if the “form type” listed on the contribution is C3, it’s a cash contribution. If the form type is C4, it’s an in-kind contribution. Also, you’ll notice there are two “contributor” columns. The first is the contributor name as reported on the candidates’ contribution disclosure forms. I created the second “contributor” column to standardize the names of the institution making the contribution.

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