Yesterday, as she promised last week, State Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33, Burien, Sea-Tac, Des Moines, Kent, Normandy Park) sent a letter to McKenna demanding he investigate Americans for Prosperity Washington. AFPW is the local chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a national group, and the subject of a massive expose in the New Yorker, that funded Tea Party candidates across the country without disclosing its donors.
Mimicking the parent group's national strategy, AFPW sent out campaign mailers in Washington State last month against Democratic candidates running for state legislature, without disclosing where they got their money. But, unlike federal rules, Washington State campaign finance law requires political committees to disclose their funders.
We've been trying to find out where AFPW got their money ourselves and have left several messages with former KVI host Kirby Wilbur, the head of the group. He hasn't called back. He also hasn't returned calls from the Public Disclosure Commission, which is looking into a complaint filed by the Sierra Club last month against AFPW for failing to even register with the commission.
The PDC sent a letter of their own yesterday—writing to AFPW, requesting info on the group's spending and giving them a week to reply. PDC Executive Director Doug Ellis says he expects the state will require them to publish a list of their donors. The irony is, it's likely their biggest contributor by far is the national chapter—which, thanks to the federal Citizens United ruling, doesn't have to disclose its donors at all.
“This is a real violation of state law,” Sen. Keiser tells PubliCola. “We require that contributions be disclosed, and they are not [being disclosed]. They are carpet bombing our state and failing to abide by our law. I think there is a court case here. I will be asking Attorney General [Rob] McKenna ... to enforce our laws.”
Sen. Keiser estimates AFPW spent about half a million dollars on its campaign efforts.
2. On his blog yesterday, McGinn came out in favor of siting a permanent encampment to replace the Nickelsville tent city at the former Sunny Jim's peanut butter factory in Georgetown. Although we still think it's unlikely that the city will approve a permanent encampment (a majority of the city council opposed even forming a committee to discuss potential encampment sites, which would include Hooverville-style wooden shacks), here's McGinn's thinking on the Georgetown site:
Creating a City-sanctioned homeless encampment won’t solve our problem. And it’s definitely a complicated undertaking. What’s more, when you consider the enormity of the problem, it’s just a small step. But it’s a step worth exploring.
I can’t say we’ll have all the pieces in place to open a homeless encampment at the SODO site by next month. But we are pushing as hard as we can. There are still hurdles to overcome but I am convinced this one small step will help our community respond to the crisis at hand.
3. According to people who've seen a draft of the Seattle School District's first-ever report card that's being released this evening at Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's Sate of the District presentation on the quality of local schools, the study will show that high-performing schools are clustered in the North end and failing schools are clustered in the South end.
The results wont be a shocker, but will provide the hard data to back up a disparity that education activists have been talking about forever. The data will also be bad news for South end parents who are, since Seattle has moved to neighborhood school assignments, locked into failing programs.
Watch for state Supreme Court justice Richard Sanders to muse that families living in the South end "have an education problem."
4. Mayor Mike McGinn took issue yesterday with Erica's post calling both his and the city council's position on the commercial parking tax "disingenuous." (In short, we wrote that even if the council declines the mayor's request to increase the parking tax to 17.5 percent, they could still cut the Seattle Department of Transportation's budget elsewhere to fund the "Walk Bike Ride" programs that McGinn proposed funding with the parking tax.)
McGinn tells PubliCola that SDOT's budget has already been cut "to the bone," and that any additional cuts would eat into the department's most basic road-maintenance and operations functions.
"Trust me, if I could release funds for some of the Walk Bike Ride improvements, I would," McGinn says, but "I just can't justify going even deeper into basic maintenance than we've done already."
The council will pass a 2011 budget that fills an estimated $70 million budget shortfall the Monday before Thanksgiving.
5. Don't miss PubliCola's 2nd Annual Election Dissection tonight at Liberty bar on Capitol Hill, 517 15th Ave. E. at 7:30.
After last week's red wave results, Republican radio talk jock John Carlson has bragging rights. Sorta.
And local Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz has bragging rights. Sorta.
Both will be on hand to debate the fallout. Seattle University’s Masters of Public Administration instructor Marco Lowe, who teaches a masters class on campaigns and elections, is moderating.
Sponsored by Northwest Passage and Sound View Strategies.