This Washington

A Tale of Two Fundraisers

By Josh Feit December 7, 2011

The Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna gubernatorial campaigns are trading barbs over each others' upcoming fundraisers—US Rep. Inslee (D-WA, 1) is holding one tomorrow in DC and Washington State Attorney General McKenna is holding one tomorrow in Seattle.

McKenna's campaign blasted Inslee today for his Thursday fundraiser because he's holding it while congress is still in session. There's nothing illegal about that, but the breakfast event is being hosted by biotech company Genentech at its DC offices; admission is between $1,000 and $3,200. Genentech has a strong lobbying presence in DC and McKenna's campaign says it's not kosher for Washington State politicians to raise money from corporations while congress is in session.

(Inslee's former legislative director Nick Shipley now lobbies full time at the McManus Group where his clients include the Roche pharmaceutical comapny, Genentech's parent company.)

Washington State has rules against statewide electeds holding fundraisers while the legislature is in session; in 1993 Washington voters approved I-134 which prohibits fundraising during the legislative session.

McKenna's campaign manager Randy Pepple says:
Inslee prefers Washington, D.C. rules instead of Washington State rules. Congressman Inslee is engaging in exactly the kind of behavior voters have expressly said they do not want to see from people who hold public office. Our rules here in Washington State were designed to prevent the most blatant examples of special interests gaming the legislative process for their own benefit, but that apparently is the system that suits Congressman Inslee best after 15 years in Washington, D.C.

Inslee's campaign pivoted off the attack to take a swipe at McKenna's own fundraising efforts, pointing out that McKenna is holding a fundraiser at China Harbor tomorrow, more than a week after state law prohibits McKenna, as an elected state official, from fundraising. (The four month fundraising freeze for state officials went into effect on November 28 because of the current special session in Olympia. Republicans in Olympia are now trying to pass  legislation that would prohibit Inslee from fundraising as well.)

The McKenna camp isn't accepting any contributions at the event (getting in all their checks for the reception prior to the November 28 deadline—about $15,000 in for the China Harbor event Pepple says), but Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith says: "If they're so concerned about the intent and spirit of the law why aren't they following it?"

As for Pepple's charge that Inslee is ignoring the intent of Washington State voters, Smith doesn't buy it. "They can whine all they want, but Inslee is following the law. He's not breaking any rules. Maybe they don't like it, but that's the way it is."

That's pretty much Pepple's defense for the China Harbor event too. "We called the [Public Disclosure Commission] about the event, we'd already rented the room, and they said as long as we weren't accepting checks at the event, we were following the rules. We aren't accepting donations at the event."
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