New campaign finance reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission show that a political committee formed to force a statewide vote on the capital gains tax recently passed by the Washington State for the Rich received a major influx of money in March from several wealthy right-wing donors.
The committee, led by longtime Republican agent J. Vander Stoep, has not released its plans to the public, but its goal appears to be to qualify a measure for the November 2022 statewide ballot. that would completely repeal ESSB 5096, the popular law of 2021 that levied a capital gains tax on the wealthy to fund early learning, child care, and K-12 education.
Vander Stoep’s operation said it received $211,900 in cash and in-kind contributions since its last report in February. About half of that, $100,000, came from Stan Baty, the vice president of Columbia Pacific Management.
Another $50,000 was provided by Mary Kay McCaw and another $10,000 was provided by Matt McIlwain of Madrona Venture Group, a fierce and well-known opponent of progressive tax reform.
The committee also reported a significant number of new pledges, totaling $415,000, just $85,000 less than half a million dollars.
The pledges came from individuals and entities who have long supported Tim Eyman and opposed right-wing tax reform, including the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW Member Services Corporation) and the Puget Shound chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association PAC.
Here are all the pledges for March:
The committee also reported several new expenses:
- $70,000 to Moore Information, one of the best-known Republican-aligned polling firms in the Pacific Northwest, for “surveys, polls and research costs”
- $27,762 to Davis Wright Tremaine for legal fees
- $12,000 to OK Industries for design and website services
- $342.16 to GoDaddy for hosting
- Multiple five-figure expenses for consultants: Peri Hall & Associates, Mark Funk Public Affairs, The Clarke Company, and RL Steinman & Associates
Vander Stoep is the sponsor of a People’s Initiative (I‑1929) that was filed last month with the Secretary of State to bomb ESSB 5096.
I‑1929 recently received a ballot from the Attorney General’s office that was quickly challenged, including by the initiative’s disgraced sponsor, Tim Eyman.
Vander Stoep did not involve Eyman in his I-1929 operation, but Eyman is known to cling to or deflect others’ efforts.
For example, in 2006, Eyman launched a referendum signature campaign to remove LBGTQ+ protections from Washington’s recently amended anti-discrimination law. (The referendum did not qualify for the ballot due to Eyman’s incompetence, angering many on the religious right.)
The C4 filed Friday by Vander Stoep’s committee only covers revenue and expenditure from March 1 to March 31, 2022. There has undoubtedly been more activity since late last month, which should only be reported in a month. It’s pretty obvious that Vander Stoep and his team of right-wing agents are gearing up for a signing campaign and a subsequent fall campaign.
By the time the I‑1929 ballot title challenge is removed, however, they will likely only have nine to 10 weeks left to collect signatures. Their hired petitioners will need to collect around 50,000 signatures a week to do so.
The cost of a successful signature campaign could easily exceed $2.5 million, on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars Vander Stoep has already spent on lawyers, pollsters and consultants. ($12,000 for a campaign website that in all likelihood won’t have more than a few pages…really!?)
If they show up on the ballot, Vander Stoep and his team likely plan to spend millions more selling their scheme to give Washington’s wealthiest families a major tax break. Their voting title, whatever it is, is unlikely to sell: NPI research revealed last year that Washingtonians had not responded enthusiastically to a ploy proposed by Tim Eyman and Jim Walsh that tried to negatively characterize the tax on the capital gains of the wealthy as an income tax.
Progressive leaders from SEIU 775NW, WEA, WFSE, Civic Ventures and the Washington Budget & Policy Center formed a coalition to oppose I‑1929, No Tax Cut for the Super Rich, who filed his C1 registration on March 25.
NPI Permanent Defense Project, which has successfully fought right-wing initiatives for more than twenty years, will do its part to ensure the defeat of I‑1929 if it qualifies for the ballot. Our research has consistently found public support for a capital gains tax for the wealthy. We are confident that if Washingtonians understand that I-1929 would cut education funding to allow Vander Stoep’s wealthy benefactors to obtain a major tax cut, they will vote no.