The funder behind Progress for Washington, the controversial independent expenditure group that's been sending out anti-Suzan DelBene mailers, is Laura Ruderman's mom, Margaret Rothschild, according to Federal Election Commission reports published today. Rothschild, who lives on Vashon Island, contributed $115,000 to Progress for Washington.
Former state house rep Ruderman and former state Department of Revenue director DelBene are two of the five Democrats running in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District, Jay Inslee's rejiggered former district. Whichever Democrat makes it through the August primary will almost certainly be facing off against Snohomish County Council member, arch-conservative John Koster in the general.
The anti-DelBene mailers question DelBene's business prowess; prior to heading up the department of revenue, DelBene was a Microsoft exec; she also helped grow Drugstore.com as its first vice president of marketing and store development, joining shortly after it was founded in the late 90s.
It's already been reported that Progress for Washington's treasurer is Ruderman donor Jeremy Pemble and that the mail firm, D.C.-based Gumbinner & Davies, had longtime ties to Ruderman.
Independent Expenditure groups are not allowed to coordinate their efforts with the formal campaigns. This latest revelation, first reported by the Seattle Times earlier today, adds another uncomfortable connection between the group and the campaign.
Ruderman's mother has already figured in Ruderman's campaign by telling her story as a cancer survivor. Ruderman has cited her mother's story to make the case for Medicare, which saved her mother, and which the GOP Congress has put on the chopping block.
Ruderman's spokeswoman, Liz Berry told us last week after we reported we first reported the mail firm connection that the Ruderman campaign "didn't know anything about this effort."
Today, Berry told us: "Laura had no idea that her mother was doing this. Her mom is both a therapist and a spiritual counselor – she's very good at keeping a secret."
Ruderman's mom has also contributed the maximum, $5,000, directly to her daughter's campaign.
Rothschild issued a statement this afternoon:
Today I understand it was disclosed that I am the donor to Progress For Washington.
I love my daughter very much and I think she would make a great Congresswoman. I also love my country and think she's the best candidate we have to beat John Koster. As I undergo ongoing cancer treatment, I am in a place in my life where I have to make hard decisions about what is important to me.
I grew very frustrated that a candidate could self fund a campaign for Congress and knew that my daughter did not have the means to do that. So I called Jeff Gumbinner, a consultant that I knew from previous campaigns, and asked him how I could help. He suggested setting up Progress For Washington and talked me through each and every step of the way. I don't have many millions of dollars but this was an effort I could make.
I am not taking any press calls at this time. However, I do want to make it clear that I did this out of love for my daughter and because I think she's the best candidate.