Kyle Netterfield, a lawyer who lives in Bothell, recently received a message from Seattle City Council member David Della that went something like this: "I noticed that you have donated money to my opponent Tim Burgess, so I'm calling to see if you'd be willing to also support and donate to my campaign for re-election to the council, with a donation of $500 to start...."
Netterfield, who donated $500 to Burgess in February, says he was insulted. "It struck me as underhanded that he would be calling me simply because I supported Tim," Netterfield says. "I don't live in Seattle. I've never been involved in a Seattle election in any way. There's simply no reason for the candidate himself to be calling me other than he got my name off [Burgess' contributors] list."
Netterfield says he supports open disclosure of campaign contributions, "but there's a side of it that's somewhat proprietary," he says. "Taking someone's list suggests that Della thinks contributions are a way to curry favor."
Another Burgess supporter—and longtime friend who spoke on condition of anonymity—says he also got the call. "I was surprised. I was amused. I did send [the voice message] along to Tim."
As of July 16, Della had raised more than $166,000 and Burgess more than $147,000. Asked if calling Burgess' donors is part of Della's strategy, Della's political consultant, Michael Grossman, notes that his client has upwards of 900 individual donors. "We are calling all sorts of people," he says, adding that it's "specious" to think there's a trend based on the anecdotes of a couple of people.
Local political consultant Blair Butterworth says dialing off your competitor's list can be a smart strategy, "as long as you have some sense about it. A lot of people who give play both sides. But you don't call the guy's mother just because she gave to the other person."