Morning Fizz: The Problem Surfaced on the Left and the Right
Caffeinated news and gossip featuring secret donations, regulations, inaugurations, and Boeing.
1. In Washington state, the problem with Citizens United has never been about unlimited donations—Washington state's election laws have always allowed unlimited corporate and union spending through political committees. The problem is the lack of disclosure: Citizens United allowed corporations and unions to funnel money through nonprofits, which don't have to reveal donors.
The problem surfaced on the left and the right this year in Washington state when unnamed agribiz interests poured money into the campaign to defeat I-522, the GMO-labeling initiative, and undisclosed labor advocates put hundreds of thousands into SeaTac's $15 minimum wage campaign.
We groused about this last week, when we tried to find out who was funding Working Washington, the nonprofit that helped fund the SeaTac initiative. No luck, the Public Disclosure Commission told us,: They have no idea.
State Sen. Andy Billig (D-3, Spokane) is proposing legislation this session to add some transparency to the system. "Every organization that participates significantly in Washington state elections should have to disclose their donors," Billig says. "What's happened is nonprofits don't have to disclose and sure enough two examples this year highlighted the need for disclosure," he says, referring to the GMO and SeaTac campaigns.
Billig's bill would make any group that spends $100,000 in a statewide race or $20,000 in a local race disclose their contibuters.
Billig says the threshold will allow legit nonprofits that aren't simply about ballot measures and candidates—say, the conservative Spokane chamber or the liberal Washington Bus—which work on campaigns, but primarily do more general work, off the hook.
2. The GOP is gleefully touting a story that former GOP state senator and current Growth Management Hearing Board Member Cheryl Pflug isn't eligible to serve on the board; the GOP doesn't like their former senator because they believed she conspired with former Gov. Chris Gregoire to hand Pflug's former seat to a Democrat.
However, Pflug tells Fizz she is eligible because her board member colleague Margaret Pageler's status as a member of the Washington State Bar (even at the limited "Judicial" level) satisfies all the requirements of Pflug's regional panel. The GOP had contended that Pflug couldn't be on the panel because she hadn't passed the bar and that Pageler's "Judicial" status wasn't satisfactory.
Pflug says it is, pointing out that bar members can move from one status to another.
3. Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant (oh, and Seattle's first gay mayor Ed Murray) will be formally sworn in at a City Hall inauguartion ceremony today a 3:30 pm. (The pair are already technically sworn in and on the job.)
Erica will be on 94.9 KUOW's "The Record" at noon to talk about the new scene at City Hall.We suggest getting to City Hall a couple of hours early if you want to box out the New York Times, CNN, and Le Monde for a seat.
4. In an historic vote on Friday night, rank and file members of the machinist's union (IAM 751), the Boeing machinists, defied leadership and voted 51-49 in favor of Boeing's "final offer" which radically changed retirement accounts, swapping in a defined contribution plan (401-Ks) in place of their defined pension plan.
The promise of an estimated 3,000 jobs swung the vote Boeing's way; the company is now committed to building the next generation 777X in Washington state.