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Posted by David Postman at 5:56 PM
A campaign to dissuade people from signing petitions for the repeal of the Washington estate tax kicks off tomorrow. The campaign focuses on the wealthy people backing the initiative, I-920, and the cost to education programs if the tax is repealed.
The Committee to Protect Our Children's Legacy will run ads in The Times and P.I. tomorrow. You can see the ad here. (My copy of the ad came from the committee, not The Times, which said confidentiality rules with advertisers prevented them from telling me anything about the content of the ads.)
The ads list the top 10 donors to the Committee to Abolish Washington State Estate Tax, the group pushing I-920, and says, "remember what the few wealthy families listed below stand to gain by bankrolling the 920 campaign versus all that public education students stand to lose." The ad asks people to "decline to sign." Sponsors need 224,880 valid signatures by the July 7 deadline.
And I'll answer the question I know I'll get in comments: Times Publisher Frank Blethen is not a contributor to the I-920 campaign. He opposes the estate tax on the state and national level, "but he is not a contributor and does not intend to be a contributor to this initiative campaign," said Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie.
There are some prominent names on the list. Developer Martin Selig has given $137,500, John Nordstrom, $50,000, and Charles Pigott, $10,000. You can go to the Public Disclosure Commission here and search for all donors to both committees.
The opposition campaign has gotten $10,000 from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, $5,000 from the Service Employees International Union, and about $35,000 in-kind from the teacher's union, according to the PDC site. Attorney Bill Marler told me he's helping with the costs of the ads. The group is working with the League of Education Voters, the sponsors of I-728, the 2000 initiative that directed state funding to reducing class sizes. Permanent Defense is active working against it, too.
Posted by David Postman at 12:24 PM
Supreme Court candidate Steve Johnson told the King County Bar Association today that he won't participate in its candidate evaluation this year. In a letter to the association he said he doesn't think he'd be treated fairly since in the last three elections, people on the evaluation panel have donated $19,000 to Democrats and $800 to Republicans. The court is a non-partisan office but Johnson is a long-time Republican state senator from Kent.
Johnson is also following the tracks of two incumbent court members, Richard Sanders and James Johnson. Both were given low evaluations in their first campaigns, "not qualified" for Sanders and "adequate" for Johnson, and then decided not to submit to the bar's questions in subsequent elections.
Steve Johnson is running against first-term Justice Susan Owens. He is backed by conservative groups, including the Building Industry Association of Washington and the Constitutional Law PAC, a group formed by Alex Hays, Jim Johnson's former campaign manager.
UPDATE: I just received an e-mail from Gary Maehara, president of the King County Bar Association, that include these two points:
1. The 70 members of the KCBA Judicial Screening Committee are prohibited from donating to judicial campaigns, but are not restricted from donating to other political campaigns.
Also, I was sent a copy of the judicial candidate reviews done by state business groups. You can see it here.
Posted by David Postman at 7:34 AM
Flying east to see his son graduate from high school next week will keep Mike McGavick from appearing with President Bush at a fundraiser here. But it's not stopping the money machine completely.
McGavick has said that graduation and related festivities means he'll have to skip the president's June 16 visit to Washington state. But the night before his son, Jack, graduates from high school in Pennsylvania, McGavick has organized an insurance industry fund raiser in Chicago.
McGavick spokesman Elliot Bundy laughed when I started asking him about the money stop at the front-end of the grad trip, and said, "I find it amazing the lengths they will go to on this. The fact is Mike has chosen to be with his son and they won't accept that."
The "they" is the Democratic Party, which has been poking at McGavick and questioning whether he is trying to duck the president. Bundy used my call to point out that Cantwell gets a lot more money from out of state than McGavick does.
And Democrats still do question whether McGavick is at all sorry he'll miss the Bush visit. Party spokesman Kelly Steele said it's like the Mastercard commercial: "Having day-after-graduation activities you can attend on the day Bush and his 31% approval rating blow into Washington state - priceless."