Community

Big Money Politics

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Choosing between two good candidates or deciding whether or not to support an initiative can be challenging—especially with the avalanche of campaign materials sent to voters as the campaigns come to a close. But who is paying for those campaign materials? That is a question voters should ask before marking their ballots.

Corporate contributions flooded into the campaigns for Whatcom County Executive and Seattle City Council seats. Many voters made their decisions during the last week of the campaigns, so last-minute ads and attack ads in particular can have a big influence.

The League of Women Voters believes that elections should be about voters, not about big-money interests. That’s why we are working to protect our democratic process by advocating for campaign contributions to be transparent to the voters. Our elections should be free from corruption and undue influence, and everyday Americans should be able to run for office, even if they aren’t well-financed or connected to wealthy special interests.

In the 2020 Washington legislative session the League will advocate strongly for legislators to establish a one-year “cooling-off” period before high-level government officials can work as lobbyists influencing state public policy. We’ll also be looking at ways to prohibit campaign contributions from corporations where the majority of stock is held by foreign interests. We are ready to act wherever possible to limit the corrupting influence on money in our state and local races.

We all know candidates need money to get their message out; however the League works to ensure transparency and full disclosure as well as strong enforcement of the existing regulations to rein in spending. We supported Initiative 276 in 1972 that created the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) to provide timely and meaningful public access to accurate information about the financing of political campaigns. The PDC has an enormous task in tracking and regulating campaign donations and expenditures as well as lobbyists’ activities. Since its inception it has been underfunded and understaffed, and has not had the authority it needed to be effective as possible.

Legislation passed in the last two sessions of the State Legislature, which the League supported, went a long way in overhauling outdated laws and providing sufficient capacity and authority to the PDC. In the 2020 Legislative session additional legislation is proposed to address: reporting requirements for elected officials, political advertising, and how expenditures for ballot propositions must be reported. Another proposal, if passed, will allow the PDC to spend funds as they become available from court penalties, so the agency can move forward immediately on projects in the queue such as updated campaign reporting software, developing online apps, creating a searchable archive for commercial advertiser information and many others.

Find out more about “Money in our Campaigns” on Nov. 16 at a program sponsored by the LWV of Bellingham/Whatcom County.

Presenters:

Judge Anne Levinson (Ret.), immediate past Chair for the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) will explain how voters can get information from the PDC website and will discuss recent changes in the PDC’s ability to enforce campaign finance regulations. Judge Levinson served three terms as Chair, during which time she spearheaded a series of reforms to strengthen campaign finance laws and to increase the authority and funding for the PDC. During her tenure, the PDC created an online case tracking system, new apps for filers, open access for data, alternatives to more quickly resolve complaints to dramatically decrease the case backlog, and worked with the Attorney General on enforcement actions.

Eric Newman, Chief Litigation Counsel for the Antitrust Division of the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, will explain how his office is working to enforce campaign regulations and their office’s initiative to combat Dark Money in our campaigns.

Elise Orlick will share her experiences working on campaigns to get big money out of politics and elevate the voices of small donors in state and federal government. She most recently worked as the State Director of WashPIRG, the grassroots consumer advocacy organization. Before that, she was a Democracy Associate with U.S. Public Interest Research Group working in Washington, D.C., where she led a federal campaign to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Additional questions will be addressed at the program, including whether other changes are needed to give our system more teeth or be more transparent, and what can be done about obtaining information on campaign advertising from platforms such as Facebook and Google.

Join us from 10am to 12pm on Sat., Nov. 16, at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, 1207 Ellsworth St. Doors open at 9:30am for social gathering, with the presentation and discussion starting at 10am. 

Allison Aurand and Heather Brown are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County.

Past Columns
Saying Goodbye

December 11, 2019

Cold and Alone

December 4, 2019

A Win for the Birds

July 24, 2019

Road to ‘Nowhere’

June 26, 2019

Game Changes

April 24, 2019

Salish Sea Science

January 23, 2019

Cherry Point Amendments

January 16, 2019

Invest in the Future

September 26, 2018

A Desperate Call

August 29, 2018

Criminalizing Protest

July 18, 2018

Threshold Fund

June 13, 2018

Imprisoned Splendour

May 9, 2018

Pathways to Homeownership

April 25, 2018

Yes on I-1631

April 11, 2018

Divide-and-Conquer

October 11, 2017

Schools and Planning for Growth

September 27, 2017

Events
Today
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

The Naughty List Market and Cabaret

2:00pm|Broadway Hall

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Holiday Craft Bazaar

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Drayton Harbor Shellebration

4:00pm|G Street Plaza

Gingerbread House Making

4:30pm|Ferndale Library

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Photos and Stories with James K. Papp

5:00pm|Gallery Pegasus

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Kids Night Out @ Western

6:00pm|Western Washington University

Lost Feast

7:00pm|Village Books

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Christmastime is Here with Skagit Symphony

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Tomorrow
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Sedro-Woolley Community Center

Winter Faire

10:00am|Whatcom Hills Waldorf School

Winter Arts & Crafts Festival

10:00am|Pioneer Park Pavilion

Old-Fashioned Christmas Market

10:00am|Friday Harbor Brickworks

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Fairhaven Winterfest

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Sumas Book Club

10:00am|Sumas Library

Mastering Wisteria

10:30am|Full Bloom Farm

Award-Winning Book Club

10:30am|Lynden Library

Snow Geese of Skagit

10:30am|Christianson's Nursery

Your Life is a Story Writers Group

10:30am| South Whatcom Library

Saltadena Celebration

11:00am|Saltadena Bakery

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

Holiday Craft Bazaars

11:30am

Holiday Maker's Market

12:00pm|Terramar Brewing and Distilling

Holiday Joy with Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Holiday Tea and Crafts

1:00pm|North Fork Library

Festive Feasting Reception

1:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Teen Art Fair

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Big Holiday reds tasting

2:00pm|eifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Shrinking the Worry Monster

2:00pm|Village Books

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

Bowman Bay Holiday

3:00pm|Bowman Bay

Noel Ensemble

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

A Deep Dive Into Eve Deisher's Psyche

3:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

One Meditation

4:00pm| Boulevard Park

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Early Railroads of Whatcom County

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Center Into Solstice

7:00pm|Cafe Blue

Holiday History Hi-Jinks

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Winter Solstice Concert with SeaMuse

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Cidertails with Alexine Langdon

7:30pm|housand Acre Cider House

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

The Kelley World Tour

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Sunday
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Celtic Yuletide

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Scarlett and Dicey

4:00pm|Village Books

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

see our complete calendar »