For Immediate Release: October 12, 2016
Contact:          Serena Larkin, [email protected]

The Center for Public Integrity gives Washington State a dismal D+ in government accountability. But a measure before state’s voters this fall could change that.

A new series of articles by think tank Sightline Institute describes how the Washington Government Accountability Act, I-1464, would:

  • Rein in corporate cash, lobbyist access, and independent expenditures (link);
  • Unlock more information for voters about where campaign funds really originate (link);
  • Lift up the voices of everyday voters to have greater influence with their electeds (link); and
  • Change the way candidates can campaign to center more on ordinary voters than big donors and PACs (link).

The latest article in the series also details how, under current Washington campaign finance rules, PACs, corporations, and other organizations outspend individual voters by more than two-to-one, and less than half a percent of voting-age adults in state house and senate districts give to candidates at all.

“Washingtonian voters don’t have an equal voice and an equal say in this system, so it’s no surprise that many feel frustrated,” says series co-author and Sightline Institute senior researcher Kristin Eberhard. “1464 offers a powerful suite of tools to restore balance to Washington State’s elections and build trust between ordinary voters and their elected officials.”

Find the full series at sightline.org/1464, and stay tuned for its final article next week, which will detail which areas of the state give the most money overall to state legislative campaigns and how much money candidates receipt from in-district versus out-of-district donors.

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Update: November 2, 2016
Contact: Serena Larkin, [email protected]

Sightline Maps the Money Flowing into WA Legislative Elections

44% of winners’ campaign funds came from just 4% of the state’s zip codes.

New research from Sightline Institute shows that state legislative candidates’ road to the Capitol runs mostly through Seattle and Olympia. One-third of all state campaign contributions to winning legislative candidates came from just 21 zip codes in these two cities, which together account for less than 5 percent of the state’s population.

In fact, just 30 zip codes (of 732 zip codes total in the state), all in western Washington and home to just 9 percent of the state’s residents, gave over 44 percent of the money in successful 2012 and 2014 legislative races. Sightline mapped these donations across the state (and remapped the data here to adjust for visual distortion by population density).

The research supports the idea that the Washington Government Accountability Act, I-1464, could dramatically alter this pattern of giving. If each of the roughly 90,000 registered voters in each legislative district had $150 in Democracy Credits to contribute to the candidate of her choice, candidates from every district could better fundraise from their own constituents, rather than relying on a handful of wealthy organizations and donors concentrated in the urban centers of western Washington.

See the full articles as part of this series at:

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Sightline Institute is an independent think tank providing leading original analysis of energy, economic, and environmental policy in the Pacific Northwest.

October 12, 2016