OLYMPIA – Citing a local port commissioner race that has seen more than $650,000 in campaign contributions from just two organizations, state lawmakers Rep. Sharon Wylie and Rep. Monica Stonier, both from Vancouver, plan to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to cap campaign donations for local port races in Washington state.
In 2006, the Legislature enacted contribution limits for Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma commissioner races, however, contributions for other port races were left uncapped.
“That is a loophole large enough to steer an oil tanker through,” said Stonier. “Contribution limits force candidates to seek broad support from the community and help to ensure all voices can be heard in our democratic process.”
“How can the public be assured there will be no conflicts of interest when a candidate’s campaign can be almost single-handedly bankrolled by a single donor?” said Wylie. “Most races for public office, including mine, are subject to contribution limits. It’s clear, based on what we’ve seen in our local port commissioner race that contribution limits should apply statewide.”
“This is just one of several progressive ideas that will be up for discussion in Olympia aimed at strengthening our democracy and ensuring our elections are fair,” said Wylie.
State law limits campaign contributions from individual donors, businesses, and other organizations for port races that have over 200,000 registered voters in the district. Only Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma currently meet that threshold. The proposed legislation by the Democratic lawmakers would impose these same limits – currently $2,000 per election cycle – to all port commissioner races in Washington state by removing the 200,000 voter threshold condition.
The next legislative session will convene for 60 days starting on January 8, 2018.