Bloomberg signs one big check and outspends NRA eightfold in WA | KUOW News and Information

Bloomberg signs one big check and outspends NRA eightfold in WA

Sep 15, 2016

New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg has waded a quarter-million dollars deeper into Washington state politics.

Bloomberg gave $248,000 to Washington Democrats on Sept. 7, according to the latest reports filed with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

The gift is part of at least $7 million in political contributions Bloomberg has made around the country this year, according to analysis by opensecrets.org and KUOW. The former Republican mayor of New York has injected $58 million into elections nationwide over the past 20 years, according to followthemoney.org.

We were unable to reach Bloomberg for a comment for this story, and Washington State Democratic Party spokesperson Marc Siegel declined to be interviewed. In an email, Siegel said only that Bloomberg's money would support Democratic candidates and causes up and down the ballot. 

Bloomberg has a long track record of giving to candidates who support gun control.

In Oregon, he just gave Democratic Governor Kate Brown's campaign $250,000. In May, Bloomberg gave $250,000 to Oregon Secretary of State candidate Val Hoyle, who then lost in the Democratic primary.

Oregon is one of 12 states with no limits on how much individuals can give to a candidate's campaign. In Washington, it is against the law for a donor to give more than $1,900 directly to a candidate for governor or $950 to a legislative candidate.

Bloomberg's money can get around those limits by going first to the state Democratic Party, which is allowed to dole out six-figure (and bigger) contributions to candidates.

NRA outgunned

The National Rifle Association has donated to 29 candidates for the Washington legislature this year, totaling $31,400. All but one of the candidates are Republican.

By signing one big check, Bloomberg just outspent the NRA eightfold.

On top of that, Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that Bloomberg bankrolls, has put $550,000 into gun-control Initiative 1491 on this November's ballot. It would stop people from buying or keeping guns if a judge has found them to be a danger to themselves or others.

Neither the NRA nor anybody else has put up money to fight the initiative.

Two years ago, it was a different story.

The NRA spent $490,000 in a losing battle to stop gun-control Initiative 594, also bankrolled in large part by Bloomberg's Everytown group. Washington now requires background checks for gun purchasers as a result.

The NRA did not respond to an interview request by deadline.

Bloomberg's $6.6 million in political donations (excluding donations to state and local campaigns) makes him the nation's 18th biggest campaign bankroller this year, according to opensecrets.org.

Topping that list is venture capitalist and climate activist Tom Steyer of California, who has given $39 million, nearly twice what any other donor has given.

Of the nation's top 10 donors this year, six have given almost exclusively to Democratic candidates and four have given only to Republicans. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the wrong initiative number for I-1491.