Koch Brothers’ Nightmare: Publicly-Funded Elections Might Be a Reality Within Days
I-122, nicknamed “Honest Elections Seattle” will provide voters with four $25 “Democracy Vouchers” which they can use to support the candidates of their choice. (Paid for by a small property tax increase of about $0.019 per $1,000 of assessed property value.)
I-122 would further limit big money interests by imposing spending caps and cash contribution limits on the city’s campaigns.
“Seattle is taking a stance, and we’re saying enough is enough,” Sonny Nguyen told King5.com. “We’re taking the city back, we’re taking the game back and it’s ours.”
Heather Weiner of the “Yes I-122” campaign blames this on distrust of the system.
“Voters are concerned that big money interests have too much power over our government, and what that forms is apathy,” she told King5. “What we’re trying to do through I-122 is increase voter trust and involvement in the democratic system.”
Nguyen called the initiative a “stepping stone,” acknowledging that there is still much work to be done in campaign finance reform. I-122 does not limit contributions from “independent expenditure” committees, which the candidates supposedly don’t know about or control.
As of this writing, nearly $446,000 has been spent in Seattle by these committees.
Still, the measure has attracted nationwide support. The “Yes I-122” campaign has received nearly $900,000 in donations compared to the opposition’s campaign of under $4,000.
“There are some outside donors who think Seattle can be a test bed for a voucher system, which again has never been tried, and I think they’re counting on Seattle voters being willing to look past the flaws and adopt something novel that they hope to roll out elsewhere in the country,” said Robert Mahon, a former Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission chair who opposes the initiative.
Of the candidates running for Seattle City Council, 16 out of 18 support I-122. According to the I-122 campaign, a recent polling of Democratic party voters in Seattle put support at over 60%.