Friday Jolt: Immigrants and PACs

By Afternoon Jolt January 27, 2012

Today's Winner: Americans for Prosperity Washington.

The AP has the news that the state Public Disclosure Commission dismissed a case brought by the Washington State Democrats and the Sierra Club against Americans for Prosperity Washington, the local affiliate of the Koch Brothers group that sent out mailers against a batch of Democratic state legislative candidates in 2010.

Here's one that targeted then state Sen. Eric Oemig (D-45), who went on to lose to Republican Andy Hill.

The Democrats complained that the mailings constituted outright campaigning ,which would have required AFPW to register as a political committee and reveal their donors.

AFPW did eventually release a list of donors, though the cash—$30,000—didn't come close to the $500,000 that the Democrats believe the group spent.

The commission decided to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that AFPW didn’t fit the definition of a political committee (they believe AFPW didn’t receive contributions to oppose or support specific candidates) and that the mailers did not constitute  political independent expenditures (because the commission believed they didn’t urge a specific vote) or electioneering (because the cost of each mailing, as AFPW reported it, didn’t exceed the $5,000 threshold).

Frankly, the decision is hard to believe. You'd have to be pretty naive not to see that a series of AFPW mailers, first reported by PubliCola in the fall of 2010, targeting 13 specific Democratic candidates by name in a series of 2010 election races for raising taxes is a coordinated political hit.

To follow our coverage of the year-long investigation start here.

Today's second winner: Immigrants in Washington State.

A house committee, voting on party lines, passed legislation today that would prohibit the state or cities from requiring private employers to use E-Verify, the electronic system that verifies employees' (and potential employees') immigration status. Supporters of E-Verify, including President Obama, say it makes it easier to crack down on illegal immigration by making it harder for undocumented immigrants to get jobs in the US. Opponents say it violates civil liberties, encourages discrimination against "foreign"-looking workers, and encourages employers (especially farmers) to hire undocumented immigrants under the table.
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