Note: This is part of a series.

Supporters of Initiative 933 in Washington recently submitted signatures—easily enough to qualify for the ballot in November. Coverage here, here, and just about everywhere.

Both Seattle dailies had decent coverage and both pointed out something unusual about I-933. It’s financed (and orchestrated) by a shadowy out-of-state group that’s pushing its agenda in a dozen states.

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  • Here’s the Times:

    Americans for Limited Government, a national organization based in Chicago, has given $200,000. The group, whose leaders are associated with the term-limits movement and other conservative causes, is backing property-rights and spending-cap measures in a dozen states this year.

    The lion’s share of the pro-933 campaign spending—$240,000 through the end of May—has gone to Citizen Solutions, a Lacey paid-signature-gathering firm.

    And here’s the Post-Intelligencer:

    Nearly half the pro-933 cash contributions have come from Americans for Limited Government, a Chicago organization founded by New York landlord Howard Rich, who also advocates for term limits and conservative issues. The group, which has contributed $200,000, is bankrolling ballot measures in 12 states.

    In Idaho, the Boise Weekly was canny enough to pick up on the same turn with Idaho’s initiative:

    Except for $50… the entire budget for This House is My House came from out of state, according to reports from the Idaho Secretary of State. $100,000 came from Montana-based America At Its Best. Another $237,000 came from the New York-based Fund for Democracy, headed by Howard Rich, a libertarian activist and major donor.

    I’m not one to believe in smoky backroom conspiracy theories, but this is starting to get a little creepy.

    More to come, next week.

    UPDATE 7/10/06:Great article in the Helena Independent Record on similar issues with Montana’s Initiative 154. Here’s a sample:

    A Montana-based political group that has spent $1 million on initiative campaigns here and elsewhere is being challenged legally by a Helena attorney, who may try to force disclosure of its financial backers.

    Attorney Jonathan Motl, a veteran of many ballot-measure campaigns in Montana, said Friday he believes Montanans in Action may be skirting campaign-finance laws by concealing its donors.

    He said the group “appears to have no existence other than as a conduit for ballot committee money,” and therefore should reveal the source of its money.