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Get ready for more independent spending in legislative races

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Oct. 12, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
October 12, 2010 1:57 pm

It looks like labor-backed candidates in key legislative races are about to get some help.

In the past two weeks, unions have given more than $450,000 to political action committees set up by a campaign consultant, Moxie Media, that has run independent campaigns on behalf of labor-supported candidates. The consultant has come under scrutiny for its tactics in a successful effort to unseat a moderate Democrat.

In campaign disclosures, each Moxie PAC has identified a target to support or oppose. All of them are backing Democrats with two notable exceptions:

  • The PAC called For the People backs maverick Republican Rep. Tom Campbell in Pierce and Thurston counties’ 2nd District, and opposes J.T. Wilcox, another Republican with more support from his party’s establishment. Labor groups just gave another $45,000 to the PAC called 2nd Defense, which then forwarded $52,000 to For the People. The use of multiple, layered PACs allows the groups to send out mailers that don’t list the names of the unions that paid for them, as they did in the primary.
  • A PAC called Stand for Citizens opposes a moderate Democrat, Snohomish County Sen. Steve Hobbs. Hobbs survived unions’ attempt to bring him down in the primary, but they don’t appear to be giving up, even though he’s now facing a Republican, former Sen. Dave Schmidt. The unions have put another $25,500 into Stand for Citizens in recent weeks.

Groups giving to the races include the State Labor Council’s DIME PAC, the Service Employees International Union, SEIU locals 1199 and 775, Teamsters Local 117, Washington Federation of State Employees, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, the Washington State Council of Firefighters and the Public School Employees of Washington. There are a couple of donations in the mix from nonunion, liberal groups Fuse and Washington Conservation Voters.

None of the PACs have reported any spending since the primary election, and money tends to migrate between Moxie’s PACs, so it’s hard to know for sure who the money will benefit. But with those caveats, here’s where the groups have given their money since Sept. 30:

  • $69,000 to Move PAC, formed by Moxie to support Rep. Tami Green in the 28th District centered on Lakewood.
  • $45,000 to Succeed PAC, formed by Moxie to support Rep. Geoff Simpson in South King County’s 47th District.
  • $41,000 to Build PAC, formed by Moxie to support Democrat Carol Gregory for an open seat in the 30th District centered on Federal Way.
  • $82,000 to Champion PAC, formed by Moxie to support Sen. Eric Oemig and Rep. Roger Goodman in the 45th District.
  • $40,000 to Better PAC, formed by Moxie to support Rep. Hans Dunshee in the 44th District.
  • $37,500 to Progressive Champions, formed by Moxie to support Joe Fitzgibbon in the 34th District.
  • 100,000 to Improve PAC, formed by Moxie to support Sen. Randy Gordon in the 41st District.
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