This morning's Fizz had dollar totals for the two independent political committees that are backing candidates (in this case, incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn and his rival state Sen. Ed Murray, D-43, Capitol Hill) in the mayor's race.
Independent political committees, or IEs, independent expenditures, don't face campaign contribution limits, which allows supporters to go beyond the $700 max to the campaigns proper. The catch is, the IEs cannot coordinate their efforts with the campaigns. There's definitely some nod and wink, though; for example, when Laura Ruderman's mom started an IE to help Ruderman in last year's congressional race, regulators had to suspend their disbelief.
What we haven't reported though, and can't, is this: Exactly where McGinn's UNITE HERE money comes from.
People for Murray has now raised $43,000 and UNITE HERE TIP, the hotel and restaurant worker union IE for McGinn, has raised $50,000.
What we haven't reported though, and can't, is this: Exactly where the UNITE HERE money comes from.
We have dogged the Murray IE, outing the conservative contributors who don't seem in sync with Murray or Seattle voters, such as the Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Beverage Association.
People for Murray is actively soliciting donations for Murray and they have to report those contributors. Former Vulcan exec Lyn Tangen is on there for $1,000; downtown developer Jon Runstad is on there for $1,500; the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund from D.C. is on there for $5,000; and former Equal Rights Washington executive director Rod Hearne is on there for $5,000.
UNITE HERE—whose campaign filing says they are based in New York—simply cut its own check from its own general fund without soliciting donations specifically for McGinn. (The local has endorsed McGinn calling him "the most progressive mayor in America.")
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission says they were told UNITE HERE's general fund comes from union dues, .75 cents a week from members. However, members are not asked to sign off on the IE.
We have a call in to UNITE HERE to get more details.
UPDATE: Stefan Moritz, Director of Strategic Affairs for UNITE HERE's local, Local 8, explained that members all over the country—"hotel and restaurant workers here, in San Francisco"—contribute to a political fund for campaigns all over that support HERE members, "and some that money just came back to Seattle," he says.
As for Murray's IE: At a Seattle chamber of commerce breakfast this morning (the chamber has endorsed Murray), spokesman George Allen told the crowd that more money was on its way, saying it was coming from "enviros plus business for Ed." The Washington Conservation Voters have endorsed Murray.
IEs typically do the dirty campaigning, and we expect the McGinn committee to go after Murray. Murray's IE is in a bit of a conundrum, though: Murray needs more name ID, so they're inclined to do ads hyping their candidate. However, they could also go after Peter Steinbrueck, Murray's hurdle for a potential one on with the mayor in the general.
McGinn is likely to go through the primary with his base, but he appears vulnerable in the general; according to the most recent polling he was leading, but with just 22 percent, a poor showing for an incumbent.
Another SurveyUSA/KING-5 poll is due on Thursday (and the station doesn't know the results yet). But we've heard that some tracking polling by one of the campaigns—and not the Murray campaign—shows Murray gaining ground while the other candidates are staying in place.