Our impression when starting this project earlier in the month was that ten times the amount of corporate money might be flowing into Puyallup politics than ever before. Researching back to 2011 on the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission site, we found total contributions are over 3 times the amount ever seen before, mostly due to over 5 times (numbers updated 10/29/19) the amount of PAC money is flowing into the races, almost all on one “side.”
Looking back, independent expenditures that PACs put toward city council campaigns included $23,100 (correction from first report of $7,700) from the state realtors in 2013, while no independent expenditures were reported in 2011, none in 2015, and none in 2017 except for a personal negative mailer that went out that year. There was also a similar mailer in 2015 reported to the PDC without resolution about who sent or paid for it.
Independent expenditures dedicated by PACs so far this year, including the $2,731.79 we ourselves are spending in response to FOP’s $62,200, totals $133,306.72. The remainder includes $24,991.68 from the realtor’s PAC in support of Herrera, and $4,594.94 from the builder’s PAC in support of Thiel, and now $37,367 from Forge WA which The Stranger calls a “Free Market Horror Show.” That’s more than 5 times more PAC than we could find from ever before, but that does not include money PACs have given directly to candidates. *(numbers updated 11/04/19)
As seen in the chart below, total combined individual and PAC money in this year’s campaign season totals $255,230.34 to date. Previously, the most money we found in Puyallup city council races totaled $74,278.60 which occurred in 2013. (numbers updated 10/29/19) That’s over 3 times more than ever before, and perhaps on target to become 4 times as much. The specific numbers we found on the Public Disclosure Commission website include:
Certainly, the infusion of big corporate money into Puyallup politics has flipped a small-time political town into a big-city political target. In retrospect, perhaps the real surprise is that it hasn’t happened before, considering our proximity to Seattle, Tacoma and all the warehouse development in valleys to the north and west.
* If a reader would like to tally all the PAC money given directly to Puyallup city council candidates and add it to the independent expenditures they have made, please go to www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/current-candidate-campaigns, type in their names, create a spreadsheet, and email it to us for inclusion when we update this post after Monday’s next filing deadline.