Previously passed 49-0, Republicans Flipped on the Measure After a Major Funder to GOP Raises Concerns about Revealing Their Donors

Seattle – Picture this. A bill that would require non-profit organizations that participate in political campaigns to register with the Public Disclosure Commission and disclose campaign-related contributions and expenditures was sailing through the legislative process. It passed the Senate on a unanimous 49-0 vote. The House made some perfecting changes and passed it back to the Senate with bipartisan support. It had the endorsement of papers across the state, and was supported by both the Democratic Attorney General and the Republican Secretary of State. Everything was going great.

Until the powerful special interests stepped in.

The Association of General Contractors, who use a loophole to hide their political spending from the public, raised concerns about the new transparency bill. The Koch Brothers and other powerful GOP funders use a very similar loophole to hide their donor rolls for the hundreds of millions they spend on campaigns every year through shell political groups.

That’s all it took for Republican support to shrivel.

When State Senator Andy Billig, the sponsor of the measure, asked for his bill to be considered on the Senate floor yesterday, he was denied by the Senate Republicans. They claimed there were controversial changes to the bill made by the House. When Billig asked to bring up his original bill they previously supported, they still said no.

“If you needed more proof that the powerful special interests run the GOP Senate caucus, well now you got it,” said Jamal Raad, Communications Director of the Washington State Democrats. “Transparency is the least we can ask for in our political process, and yet the Republicans have reversed course on this important bill. This may be good for the Koch Brothers and other powerful special interests, but it’s not good for clean elections.”