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Seattle – On Saturday the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG) will be recognized for its work on campaign finance disclosure and other elections-related legislation during the 2011 Legislature.
“WashPIRG has been a steadfast partner in bringing key issues to public attention and in lobbying for robust disclosure of campaign contributions and similar reforms to protect the public interest,” says Craig Salins, Executive Director of Washington Public Campaigns, which will be presenting WashPIRG with its “Organization of the Year” award during their annual awards banquet at South Seattle Community College on Saturday, June 18.
“WashPIRG has long advocated for public financing of elections and greater disclosure of campaign finances,” says WashPIRG public interest advocate Steve Breaux, who has volunteered as an elections observer in six nations on three continents. “WashPIRG believes accountability begins with transparency, which is why we’ve worked to make sure the public has accurate information about individuals and groups funding political campaigns and how that money is being spent.”
One piece of legislation WashPIRG tracked during the 2011 Legislature was Senate Bill 5021, which originally prohibited PAC-to-PAC transfers used to hide the original source of campaign contributions and independent expenditures in political campaigns. Although Breaux testified at Senate and House committees in favor of SB-5021 when it was first introduced, WashPIRG eventually withdrew its support when the bill was amended to allow PAC-to-PAC transfers with minimum restrictions.
Other elections-related issues on which WashPIRG was active during the 2011 Legislature included:
Opposition to Senate Bill 5015 – which Breaux characterized as “the most dangerous idea of 2011” for allowing the tabulation of votes as early as 36 hours before the end of an election;
Supporting public financing of state Supreme Court elections in Senate Bill 5010 and House Bill 1989; and
Support for Senate Bill 5297 and House Bill 1668 to increase initiative filing fees from $5 – a rate set more than a century ago – to $500 so that they more accurately reflect the cost of processing by the Secretary of State and other state agencies.
WashPIRG was also active in other legislative areas, including working with the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner on health insurance issues (House Bills 1301, 1301, 1220 and Senate Bill 5445); testifying in support of the Foreclosure Fairness Act (Senate Bill 5275 and House Bill 1362); opposing a rollback of limits on payday loans (House Bill 1678); working with the “Toxic Free Kids Coalition” to enhance the safety of children’s products; and promoting ways to balance the state budget by closing unproductive tax loopholes and eliminating unnecessary subsidies as part of the “Our Economic Future” coalition.
With the Legislature adjourned WashPIRG is now focusing on federal issues including reforming agricultural subsidies, closing corporate tax loopholes, and promoting the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Washington Public Campaigns Annual Awards Banquet
Social Hour, Raffle: 6 PM
Dinner & Program: 7 PM
Jerry M. Brockey Center
South Seattle Community College
6000 16th Ave. SW, Seattle WA
Craig Salins, WPC Executive Director/206-784-2522
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