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Governor signs new contribution limits for local elections

Post by David Wickert on March 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
March 26, 2010 12:00 pm

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law limits on campaign contributions in local elections Thursday that might significantly curtail contributions to City of Tacoma candidates.

The governor signed Senate Bill 6344, which imposes an $800-per-election contribution limit in campaigns for public office in county, city council and mayoral elections. Previously, there were no limits in most of those elections.

The bill is the latest twist in Washington’s history of regulating political campaign contributions.

There have been limits on contributions for statewide and legislative offices since 1992. The current limit on statewide offices is $1,600 per election from any contributor other than a political party. Contributors can give $800 per election to legislative candidates.

In 2006 the Legislature extended the same contribution limits to all judicial candidates and to port commissioner candidates in Tacoma and Seattle.

That same year lawmakers imposed contribution limits in county races in counties with more than 200,000 registered voters  – Pierce, King, Clark, Snohomish and Spokane counties. The limits there are $800 per election per contributor other than a political party.

Under the latest legislation the $800 limit now will apply to candidates in all counties and to city council and mayoral candidates. The new limits take effect June 10.

Locally, Tacoma appears to be the city most affected. In last year’s mayoral election, eventual winner Marilyn Strickland and challenger Jim Merritt received dozens of contributions over $800. Strickland received $8,000 from the Tacoma police union alone, while Merritt received $3,000 from a builder’s group.

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