Yesterday I got home and opened my mailbox to find yet another large, glossy political pamphlet telling me to vote no on Initiative 1183, the initiative to privatize liquor sales. Like so many of it's previous brethren, this pamphlet told me in bold print that Costco is contributing millions of dollars to the campaign and is trying to buy the election. Ignoring the other facts that passing 1183 will mean opening liquor stores within schools, that DUI fatalities will increase at least 1000 fold, and that society as we know it will come to an end, I couldn't help wondering why, if Costco is spending so much money to pass this initiative, then why am I not getting any mailings telling me to vote yes while I'm receiving at least 2 a week telling me to vote no. And why are 3 out of 4 televised commercials I see telling me to vote no. And which firemen am I supposed to believe, the ones telling me to vote yes or the ones telling me to vote no?
So I set off to find some kind of data telling me how much money the vote no folks are spending, since they are so focused on spending. I assumed that there had to be some sort of transparency on campaign financing, but didn't know where to look. After some digging, I found the Public Disclosure Commission web site. Unfortunately I discovered that it's not as easy as just searching by initiative, candidate, ballot measure, etc. You have to search by committee, and there may be (and most likely are) multiple committees for each initiative. As it turns out there are hundreds and hundreds of committees to search through.
While far from a thorough accounting, I did make some progress. I found that the Yes On 1183 Coalition has spent roughly $18 million so far. The largest contributors thus far being Costco, Safeway, and Trader Joe's. And it should be noted that with the exception of Trader Joe's, every contributor is from Washington state.
On the other hand is Protect Our Communities. This poor organization has thus far spent roughly $12 million to tell us how much Costco is spending. Not as much as the proponents, but still a significant amount. What I found most interesting, however is that the majority of contributors are from out of state. The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Of America, Inc out of Washington DC are far and away the biggest contributors donating almost $9 million to date. I'm sure that the well being of Washington citizens is their primary concern. The National Beer Wholesalers Assn of Alexandria, VA is the next largest contributor. Surely their motives are altruistic as well. As a matter of fact it appears that 80-90% of contributors are out of state alcohol distributors, and the majority of in state contributions come from unions. I don't know what the UFCW Local 21 or the Teamsters have to gain by rejecting the initiative, but they have donated a significant amount.
So, after all of the lies and BS put forward by the no on 1183 campaign, I am not surprised to find that nearly all of the people trying to "protect our communities" have absolutely no interest in protecting any communities, but rather are wholly motivated by lining their own pockets. I also learned that I can't spell initiative correctly to save my life. I spelled it wrong every time I typed it. Thank you spell check. I also learned that you can't trust those shifty, no good firemen. And all of this adds up to me voting yes on 1183.