I-Greed: Big Biz Behind 'People's Initiatives'

As noted in this week's SW cover story on the campaigns to privatize state liquor sales, both Initiative 1100 and I-1105 are the result of corporate politics moving into grass roots territory. Three major corporations spent more than $3 million on these "people's initiatives" in hopes of diverting millions in public booze revenue into their private coffers. Tony Perkins of the state Public Disclosure Commission, in a newly released study of initiative funding, takes that a step further, indicating the I-process has been turned on its head by big business.

More than $10 million has been raised to back essentially six state initiatives this fall (of 75 filed, only those half-dozen survived). Big chunks of that funding came from corporations to pay for signature-gathering in hopes of putting the issues before voters, Perkins' findings show.

Besides the liquor millions ponied up by the Costco chain and two distributors, Odom Corp. and Young's Market Inc., big donors to the other measures include more than $500,000 from the Building Industry Association of Washington and $300,000 from Liberty Mutual to support I-1082, which would allow employers to buy private workers' comp insurance. BP and other oil giants have similarly given $230,000 to help out Tim Eyman's latest tax-inhibiting measure, I-1053. Meanwhile, union heavyweight SEIU gave more than $444,000 to support the income-tax plan, I-1098, pushed by Bill Gates Sr.

Concludes Perkins:

The citizen initiative was once seen as a remedy for the domination of industry and other powerful interests over the legislative process. Today, contribution and expenditure reports filed with the PDC reveal that these same well?funded interests--corporations, unions, trade and professional associations--use paid signature gatherers to accomplish their goals.
comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow