Show me the money

CLARK COUNTY — The issue of campaign finance has been on many people’s minds leading up to this year’s presidential election. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made it a highlight of his campaign to be the Democrats’ nominee for president and Washington state has a proposition on the ballot to get so-called “dark money” out of our state and local elections.Election 2016

But how can you figure out who is funding a particular candidate? One way is to look at the candidate’s campaign finance disclosures on the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) site, where you can browse campaign contributions, lobbyist expenditures and other campaign finance reports.

To make things a little easier for Clark County voters interested in finding out who is funding whom in this year’s General Election, we’ve compiled some financial information on a few of this area’s key political candidates.

Legislative District 18

This legislative district includes six of Clark County’s seven cities Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal and Yacolt — as well as the unincorporated areas of Brush Prairie, Hazel Dell and Salmon Creek.

District 18 includes a state senate position, currently held by Washington State Sen. Ann Rivers, and two state representative positions, currently held by Washington State Reps. Brandon Vick in Position 1 and Liz Pike in Position 2. All of the district’s incumbents are Republicans and all three are in contested races this year.

Challengers include Eric Holt, a Democrat and self-described progressive for the state senate seat; Justin Oberg, also a Democrat, for Rep. Vick’s Position 1 seat in the state House of Representatives; and Independent Democrat Kathie Gillespie who is challenging Rep. Pike for her Position 2 seat.

Following is a look at these candidates’ campaign contributions for the 2016 General Election:

Sen. Ann Rivers

Ann Rivers 2016 election
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The majority of the Republican, incumbent senator’s financial contributors are donating at least $500. Of the roughly $158,000 Sen. Rivers’ has raised for her 2016 campaign, more than 85 percent was from big donors, contributing $500 to $1,000 each. A little less than 10 percent of her donations came from donors who gave between $100 and $450 each, and about 4 percent came from small donations of $99 or less.

Some of Sen. Rivers’ top contributors, those who gave $950 to $1,000 each, included BNSF Railway, the BP North America Employee Political Action Committee (PACS), the Building Industry Group, the Council of Police Political Support, British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Natural Gas PAC, Washington Broadband Association, Washington State Auto Dealers PAC,  the Washington Restaurant Association, Weyerhaeuser and the Washington State Bankers Association’s PAC.

Eric K. Holt

Eric Holt 2016 election
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Donors who gave to Democrat Eric K. Holt’s campaign against incumbent Sen. Ann Rivers for the state senate seat in Legislative District 18 were split pretty evenly among small, mid-range and big contributions, but the Democrat challenger has raised far less money than Sen. Rivers — bringing in about $8,000 compared to Sen. Rivers’ $158,000.

A little more than one-third of Holt’s contributions came from large donations of $500 to $1,000 each. Another one-third came from donors who gave $100 to $450, while 29 percent came from donors who each contributed $99 or less to Holt’s campaign.

Holt’s main campaign contributors included the UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 26, the Southwest Washington Electricians PAC 48 and the Washington State Committee for Political Education.

Rep. Brandon Vick

Brandon Vick 2016 Election
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The vast majority of Republican incumbent Rep. Brandon Vick’s contributions to his 2016 campaign for re-election — about 90 percent of the $49,000 Vick raised — came from donors who each gave $500 to $1,000. About 9 percent of Vick’s contributors gave $100 to $450, and 1 percent donated $99 or less.

Some of Rep. Vick’s biggest contributors included the Washington Restaurant Association, Washington State Auto Dealers PAC, Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, the Washington Bankers Association, the Washington Health Care Association and Washington Refuse and Recycling and the WA Medical PAC.

Justin Oberg

Justin Oberg 2016 election
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The Democrat challenger to Rep. Vick’s Pos. 1 seat has raised only a small percentage of what his incumbent opponent collected — about $2,500 compared to Rep. Vick’s $49,000 — and none of Oberg’s donors have contributed more than $250.

The majority of Oberg’s donations are from individuals giving $100 or less. His two main contributors, who each donated $250 to Oberg’s campaign, are the Central Labor Council and the Southwest Washington Electricians PAC 48.

Rep. Liz Pike

Liz Pike 2016 election
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The Republican incumbent in Legislative District 18, Position 2, Rep. Liz Pike, has raised a little more than $40,000 in her bid for reelection this campaign season. Most of her donors — about 84 percent — gave $500 to $1,000 each. Only one percent of Rep. Pike’s donations came from contributors who gave $99 or less.

Some of Rep. Pike’s biggest donors included: BNSF Railway, the Columbia River Pilots State Fund, Georgia Pacific, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry’s Washington PAC, the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund, the Washington Beer and Wine Association, Washington State Auto Dealers, the American Chemical Council, and the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association.

(Disclaimer: One of Rep. Pike’s donors, who contributed $950 to her 2016 reelection campaign is David Madore, owner of clarkcountytoday.com.)

Kathie Gillespie

Kathie Gillespie 2016 election
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The Independent Democrat challenger to Rep. Liz Pike’s Position 2 seat in Legislative District 18 is Kathie Gillespie, president of the Vancouver School District’s school board. Gillespie has raised about $22,000 to Pike’s $40,000 and the majority of her contributors — about 51 percent — have donated $500 to $1,000 each. Another 39 percent have donated $100 to $450 and 10 percent have given $99 or less to Gillespie’s campaign.

Some of Gillespie’s biggest contributors include: the Harry Truman Fund, the Washington Education Association PAC, Win with Women and the Camas-based investment firm Nierenberg Investment Management.

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About The Author

Kelly Moyer has been reporting for community newspapers since the mid-1990s, including the Newport News-Times on the Oregon Coast; the Lewistown Sentinel, a daily newspaper in central Pennsylvania; the Gresham Outlook, Wilsonville Spokesman, Sherwood Gazette and South County Spotlight newspapers in the Portland metro area; and The Reflector newspaper in Battle Ground, Wash. She also is the former managing editor of Midwifery Today, an international magazine for birth professionals. Kelly, a University of Oregon alumnus and Pennsylvania native, lives with her family in Northeast Portland.

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