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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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June 12, 2008 4:03 PM

Dem gov group, unions, fund new PAC. But what for?

Posted by David Postman

A new PAC backed by big bucks from the Democratic Governor’s Association and local unions has amassed more than $800,000 in the past two months.

The DGA gave $250,000 to the PAC, Evergreen Progress, on May 11. The Service Employees International Union State Council has given a total of $495,000. All but $100 of the rest of the money came from other labor unions and the state Labor Council.

With that much money from the Democratic Governor’s Association, a group whose job includes electing and re-electing Democratic governors, it appears this may be a group about to launch independent expenditures on behalf of Gov. Chris Gregoire.

But the chairman of the group wouldn’t say which races Evergreen Progress will be involved with.

“I’ll let you draw your conclusions at this point,” said Rick Desimone. He said the group was going to focus on “progressive approaches” to health care, the environment and the economy.

I wouldn’t categorize us as a group focused on anything other than advancing these progressive issues. I think we will focus on events and choices that people have that will make or break progress on these issues.

But I’m not going to say we’re limiting ourselves to any type of communication or advocacy at this point, partly because I don’t know all that we’ll be doing.

The PAC was formed April 12, according to documents filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. Two Seattle residents, Sandy and Steven Larson, each gave $50 to Evergreen Progress April 27. The rest of $805,100 came from labor unions and the Democratic governor’s group.

In addition to SEIU, the largest donor by far, other unions that have given are the Sheet Metal Workers Local 66 PAC, Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, the Washington State Labor Council, the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Iron Workers District Council of the Pacific Northwest, Carpenters Local 131, and the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

Dino Rossi, Gregoire’s Republican opponent, has been getting help from a conservative-backed group, “It’s Time for a Change.” That PAC is funded by the Building Industry Association of Washington and other Rossi backers. It recently began airing radio commercials criticizing Gregoire’s record on transportation.

The BIAW-run independent expenditure has brought much criticism from the Gregoire campaign and Democratic Party staff. Lisa McShane, Gregoire’s campaign field director, wrote in an e-mail to supporters today:

Our Republican opponent’s backers at the BIAW - Olympia’s most powerful special interest lobbyists - are already attacking Gov. Gregoire on the airwaves.

They have already spent more than $250,000 on attack ads and this is just the beginning of their attempts to buy the race for our Republican opponent.

Our campaign is different.

The BIAW certainly is a powerful special interest in Olympia. But the SEIU, the biggest union in the state, is clearly one of the most powerful, and these days it is far more successful with its agenda than the BIAW.

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Jun 12, 08 - 04:03 PM
Dem gov group, unions, fund new PAC. But what for?

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