That Washington

Rep. Liias Blasts Sen. Hobbs for "Special Interest" Fundraiser

By Josh Feit August 25, 2011

The Washington State Labor Council hasn't picked a favorite candidate yet among the pack of Democrats angling for US Rep. Jay Inslee's open seat (Inslee, D-WA 1, is running for governor), but it's no secret they can't stand state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Snohomish).

Hobbs, one of three current Democratic state legislators gunning for Inslee's spot, pissed off the state labor council during the 2010 legislative session for his conservative budgeting votes. As a result, the WSLC actively supported Lilian Kaufer, Hobbs' intramural Democratic challenger from the left.

And Hobbs, a member of labor's bete noire, the moderate-to-conservative Roadkill Caucus faction in the state legislature, didn't help his case with labor by backing a cut to workers' comp payments during this year's session.

The WSLC got its hands on an invite to a Hobbs fundraiser tonight and, given the list of corporate lobbyist sponsors, including reps from the BIAW, Phillip Morris, Wal-Mart, Eli Lilly—the labor council is dubbing it a "LobbyPalooza."

According to the invite, the fundraiser is at Linda Lanham's house in Kent—where she also runs a Boeing lobbying shop called the Aerospace Futures Alliance of Washington LTD.

Hobbs' Roadkill Caucus had a similar lobbyist-friendly fundraiser in the runup to the 2010 legislative session.

One of Hobbs' opponents, liberal Democrat state Rep. Marko Liias (D-21, Edmonds), sent out a fundraising letter today criticizing the "special-interest" fundraiser.

Liias' letter states:
The Washington State Labor Council just sent out an email criticizing our Democratic opponent for hosting a “Corporate Lobbypalooza” fundraiser that's taking place today!

I share their concern. We, as Democrats, should stand up to the special interests, not ask them to bankroll our campaigns -- because at the end of the day, they have enough influence in Congress. It’s middle class families that deserve a voice.

It's worth noting that the list of donors to Liias' recent state rep run includes many of the same types of corporate players, including Lanham's Aerospace Futures Alliance, Money Tree, Eli Lilly, Merck, the Washington Beverage Association, and Comcast.

"Sen. Hobbs is taking a page from President Obama's playbook," says Hobbs' spokesman Jim Kainber.  "He's reaching out to business so he engage in a conversation about how to support creating jobs."

Kainber, also a lobbyist for the Arne-Duncan-style ed reform group Stand for Children, adds that the Hobbs' support from the business community is "indicative of his work on the financial institutions committee to do just that."

The other Democrats in the race are drug reform advocate state Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45, Kirkland) and former state rep Laura Ruderman.
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