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June 8, 2006

Campaign to protect estate tax begins tomorrow

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campaign focuses on the wealthy people backing the initiative, I-920, and the cost to education programs if the tax is repealed.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.

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