Andy Hill Pt. 1

The Washington State senate Republicans are complaining about an anti-State Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland) mailer that was sent out by the Washington Conservation Voters.

(WCV has spent $243,550 on independent expenditures against Hill in his race against Democratic newcomer Matt Isenhower; it's a key state senate race in swing-turf Microsoft suburbs the Democrats are focusing on in an uphill battle to re-take the senate. Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged $100 million nationally to elect environmentalists, has contributed $750,000 to WCV.)

The WCV mailer says that Sen. Hill, the senate budget committee chair, has refused to close a single tax loophole. 

The Republicans—pointing to the estate tax loophole, the mortgage loan exemption for big banks, and the telecom tax exemption—say the mailer is inaccurate. They're right.

Sort of. 

We've reported on all this before. Coming at it from the other direction though, we were startled when we read in Sen. Hill's voters' guide statement that he had closed loopholes. At the time, we asked Hill about the claim, and he listed some of the same examples, noting the 2013-'15 budget deal that closed the estate tax loophole  and the telecom tax loophole.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of Sen. Hill's 2013-15 budget proposal, though. This proposal came after the regular session ended without a deal. (After the first special session gave way to a second special session, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee chastised the GOP for their refusal to close the estate tax loophole.)

The Democratic house proposal includes $160 million from the closing the estate tax loophole and $110 million from closing the telecom loophole. But Hill's budget doesn't count either item. (It's also telling that the Democratic proposal has $352 million in "tax preference repeals" while Hill's version doesn't include any money from tax preference repeals.)

After two special sessions, and a court-ordered threat to mail estate tax rebate checks out to people who claimed the exemption, the GOP finally agreed to the Democratic priority on closing the big loopholes. Based on that drama, the WCV claim has merit.  

However, Hill told us: "It’s interesting to note that in recent history prior to 2012, when the House, Senate and Governor were all controlled by Democrats, the only significant tax preference elimination was the 2010 repeal of the sales tax exemption on candy and gum. This was overturned by the voters in Nov 2010."

But Sen. Hill is overlooking the fact that it took a two-thirds vote at the time to repeal tax loopholes and despite repeated calls by the Democrats to close a big bank loophole, senate Republicans stalled the legislation in the senate throughout the Great Recession. 

Andy Hill Pt. 2

The Senate Democratic Committee has filed a Public Disclosure Commission complaint against Hill arguing  that Hill’s campaign hasn't reported an in-kind contribution of $6,600-worth in polling from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. While, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee reported the contribution on their end in April, the Senate Democratic Committee points out that Hill hasn't reported the financial help which, the complaint states, violates basic disclosure law. 

The Democrats are also alleging that Hill’s campaign has exceeded the joint donation cap allowed to county and local party organizations. The PDC complaint contends that state legislative campaigns can only accept donations not exceeding 50 cents per registered voter per cycle for a joint limit between county and legislative party organizations. For Hill’s district this amount would be $44,165.50. Sen. Hill’s campaign has exceeded that amount by receiving a total of $47,056.55 from county and legislative organizations.

The $3,000 SNAFU strikes the Democrats as showing a lack of respect for campaign finance laws. In case, Jolt wasn't quite buying the outrage, the Democrats pointed to a second aspect of their complaint. The Democrats claim that King County Republicans are distributing Hill literature on his behalf, constituting more in-kind manpower. When the KC Republicans report the in-kind contribution, the Democrats say, it will increase the amount Hill's campaign has accepted over the contribution cap.

Their complaint states: "The King County Republican Party is distributing literature on behalf of Citizens for Andy Hill. This spending has not yet been reported to the PDC as an in-kind contribution to Citizens for Andy Hill—once it is, it will push Citizens for Andy Hill even higher over the contribution limit for county and LD parties."

 We have messages out to Hill and Lori Sotelo, the chair of the KC Republicans about the Democratic complaint.