“Emergency” amendment would overturn Supreme Court decision and create campaign finance loophole for business and labor

4/7/05 by Michael Reitz
Evergreen Freedom Fountain

OLYMPIA­A House amendment to Senate Bill 5034 (which passed the Senate last month) would open a huge loophole in Washington’s campaign finance law by eliminating the requirement that the affiliates of corporations and labor unions share a single campaign contribution limit.

Under the current law (RCW 42.17.660), there is a single contribution limit imposed on the affiliates of corporations and labor unions to ensure that large organizations do not dilute the influence of private citizens in state elections.

Last year’s Supreme Court decision Edelman v. State of Washington overturned a Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) rule that excused subsidiaries of an organization from the requirement to combine their contributions, so long as the parent organization made no contributions. The House amendment would effectively overturn the Supreme Court decision and restore the PDC rule.

The House amendment proposes to make this change using an emergency clause, thereby eliminating the ability of the people to overturn the amendment by referendum. (The emergency clause applies only to this change and one other section of the bill.)

“This amendment goes beyond the scope of the bill’s intent and gives organizations a free pass to sidestep contribution limits,” said Bob Edelman, the Washington citizen who successfully challenged the PDC’s rule. “How ironic­the House feels that guaranteeing more campaign contributions is necessary for the immediate preservation of state government, as the emergency clause indicates."

“If the House passes this amendment, it would show a complete disregard for the citizens of Washington who passed Initiative 134 by an overwhelming majority,” said Edelman

Additional Information
House Committee Amendment H2957.1

Contact: Michael Reitz, Project Director & Legal Analyst 360.956.3482


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