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passed in the last two sessions of the State Legislature, which the League supported, went a long way in overhauling outdated laws and providing sufficient capacity and authority to the PDC.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
Climate Action Plan

September 1, 2021

Support Transportation Fund

October 21, 2020

Census Countdown

September 30, 2020

Don’t Fence Us Out

July 22, 2020

Back to the wild

May 6, 2020

Every Other Weekly?

April 1, 2020

Unified Command

March 18, 2020

Kids World

January 29, 2020

Fierce Urgency of Now

January 15, 2020

The Three Rs

December 18, 2019

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

Thursday
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Works by as many as 45 Whatcom Art Guild members can be viewed from 11am-5pm daily at Whatcom Art Market, 1103 11th St. Reka Zoltan’s wood cuts and etchings will be featured through Sept. 19.

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Listen in on Robert Sarazin Blake & Friends at a Happy Hour Concert Series taking place from 5:30pm-7pm Thursday at the beer garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad Ave. From 8pm-11pm,…

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Felix the Hammer will perform from 7pm-8pm at Kulshan Trackside at Waypoint Park, 1145 Granary Ave. From 8:15pm-9:45pm, the Whags will take the stage. The group continues to gain notoriety…

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7:30pm

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7:30pm

Catch the Upfront Theatre’s long-running show “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” at 7:30pm Thursday at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, 207 Prospect St. At 7:30pm and 9:30pm Friday and…

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7:30pm

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7:30pm

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Episcool, Heirz, & Winzlo wukk will join BUKI for a 9pm show Thurs., Sept. 16 at the Wild Buffalo House of Music, 208 W. Holly St. Other upcoming highlights include the Red Not Chili Peppers…

Friday
Whatcom Water Week

9:30am

Celebrate our local water resources when Whatcom Water Week kicks off with a “Run With the Chums” event Saturday at the BP Highlands in Birch Bay. Events continue through Sept. 19 and include…

Fall Classes at BAAY

12:00pm

Starting Sept. 12, Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth will begin offering a variety of classes and shows for students ages 4-17. All classes are currently scheduled to take place in person at…

Paintings of My Life at Gallery Syre

11:00am

View Beth Anna Margolis’ “Paintings of My Life” from 11am-4pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Oct. 23 at Gallery Syre, 465 W. Stuart Rd. The show features a selection of more than 60 works…

Eat Local Month

10:00am

Join Sustainable Connections for Eat Local Month through September as they support and share the work of local farmers, fishers, ranchers, chefs, restaurateurs and grocers in Whatcom, Skagit,…

U-pick at Bellewood Farms

10:00am

Choose from 22 varieties of apples located on 62 acres at U-pick events taking place from 10am-5pm Wednesdays through Sundays at Bellewood Farms, 6140 Guide Meridian. Free apple bin train…

Bellinghistory Tours with the Good Time Girls

6:00pm

Through Sept. 23, the Good Time Girls will lead free “Bellinghistory” tours at 6pm Wednesday in Fairhaven, and 6pm Thursday in downtown Bellingham. The Wednesday tour will highlight the…

Red Elvises and Beyond at Shakedown

8:30pm

Red Elvises will perform at 8:30pm Wed., Sept. 15 at the Shakedown, 1212 N. State St. The show will be followed by a number of other gigs this month—including Fossil Fire, Island Gigantism,…

Future Artifacts at MoNA

10:00am

“Future Artifacts” shows from 10am-5pm daily through Oct. 10 in La Conner at the Museum of Northwest Art, 121 S. First St. The exhibit features work by Lummi Nation glass artist Dan Friday,…

Art Aloft Member Art Show

11:00am

Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild’s “Art Aloft” Member Art Show can be viewed from 11am-5pm Wednesdays through Saturdays through Oct. 15 at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st St. NW.

Bowls to Fill at Good Earth

11:00am

“Bowls to Fill,” featuring members of Whatcom Artist of Clay & Kiln (WACK), will be featured from 11am-5pm daily through Saturdays, and 11am-4pm Sundays through September at Good Earth…

Whatcom Art Market

11:00am

Works by as many as 45 Whatcom Art Guild members can be viewed from 11am-5pm daily at Whatcom Art Market, 1103 11th St. Reka Zoltan’s wood cuts and etchings will be featured through Sept. 19.

Mindport Exhibits

11:00am

One-hour reservation slots are now open for household groups or pods of up to 10 people from 11am-6pm Tuesdays through Saturdays at Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly St. In the months they were…

Fall Exhibits at Jansen Art Center

11:00am

View a “Fall Juried Show” in Lynden from 11am-7pm Tuesdays through Thursdays, and 11am-5pm Fridays and Saturdays at the Jansen Art Center, 321 Front St. Also on display are “From Then ‘Til…

Quilt Exhibits in La Conner

11:00am

From 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sunday, visit La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, 703 S. Second St. Currently on display are “Yoshiko’s Folly: Shirbori Hats by Fine…

Discovery

11:00am

Catch longtime glass artist Steve Klein’s new exhibit “Discovery” from 11am-6pm daily (except Tuesdays) through September 26 in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First…

Whatcom Artist Studio Tour Gallery Showcase

11:00am

View a Whatcom Artist Studio Tour Gallery Showcase from 11am-4pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Sept. 25 at Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave. Presenting a wide range of media, the exhibit…

Anne Martin McCool at Scott Milo

11:00am

Acrylics by Anne Martin McCool will be featured from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Sept. 28 in Anacortes at the Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave. Mixed-media works by…

An Artist's Universe at Hotel Bellwether

12:00pm

View painter and mixed-media master David Syre’s latest installation, “An Artist’s Universe,” hanging throughout the corridors, lobby and dining room of Hotel Bellwether and the Lighthouse…

Sunnylandfest

12:00pm

Attend the second annual celebration of Fest beers, “Sunnylandfest,” from Thursday through Sunday in Bellingham’s Sunnyland neighborhood at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, Wander Brewing,…

Semiahmoo Sips

3:00pm

From 3pm-5pm, attend “Semiahmoo Sips” in Blaine at the wine cellar at Semiahmoo Resort, 9565 Semiahmoo Pkwy. A sommelier will pour samples of four different wines from a rotating menu while…

Whatcom Teen Writers

3:00pm

Students in grades 6-12 can join Whatcom County Library System for “Whatcom Teen Writers” discussions taking place from 3pm-4pm on Zoom. Hone your craft, practice creative exercises, share…

What We're Reading Book Club

4:00pm

From 4pm-5pm, Deming Library staff member Erin Suda will host a virtual What We’re Reading Book Club meeting on Zoom. The club is for folks who love to share books they’ve enjoyed and hear…

Tween Reads

4:00pm

Youth in grades 4-6 can sign up for weekly “Tween Reads” discussions with Whatcom County Library System taking place from 4pm-5pm on Zoom. Whether you like graphic novels, fantasy, realistic…

Virtual Handbags for Housing

4:30pm

At 6:30pm, Lydia Place will host its annual auction and fundraiser, “Handbags for Housing.” General admission to the virtual event is free. VIP tickets are $125 and include early online…

Boundary Bay Music

5:30pm

Listen in on Robert Sarazin Blake & Friends at a Happy Hour Concert Series taking place from 5:30pm-7pm Thursday at the beer garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad Ave. From 8pm-11pm,…

Trackside Tunes

7:00pm

Felix the Hammer will perform from 7pm-8pm at Kulshan Trackside at Waypoint Park, 1145 Granary Ave. From 8:15pm-9:45pm, the Whags will take the stage. The group continues to gain notoriety…

The Wingmaker

7:30pm

Another world premier by iDiOM Theater’s Playwright in Residence, Rosalind Reynolds, takes place this weekend when The Wingmaker shows at 7:30pm Thursday through Saturday at the Sylvia…

Upfront Back in Front

7:30pm

Catch the Upfront Theatre’s long-running show “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” at 7:30pm Thursday at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, 207 Prospect St. At 7:30pm and 9:30pm Friday and…

Proof

7:30pm

David Auburn’s Proof opens this week with showings at 7:30pm Thursday through Saturday, and 2pm Sunday in Lynden at the Claire vg Thomas Theatre, 655 Front St. The drama tells the story of a…

The Smell of the Kill

7:30pm

Michele Lowe’s The Smell of the Kill will continue this weekend with performances at 7:30pm Thursday through Saturday, and 2pm Sunday at the Bellingham Theatre Guild, 1600 H St. The dark…

Wild Buffalo Live Music Lineup

9:00pm

Episcool, Heirz, & Winzlo wukk will join BUKI for a 9pm show Thurs., Sept. 16 at the Wild Buffalo House of Music, 208 W. Holly St. Other upcoming highlights include the Red Not Chili Peppers…