J.J. Abrams and others give big in WA elections | KUOW News and Information

J.J. Abrams and others give big in WA elections

Oct 4, 2016

Campaign cash, often in six-figure chunks, is sloshing around the Washington elections as November draws near. 

If the figures reported by the Washington Public Disclosure Commission are any indicator, last week was a big one for the makers of oversized novelty checks. Last week saw 11 checks of $100,000 or more—including two of this year's biggest. 

New Direction PAC

This year's biggest money move — a donation of $750,000 — benefited a political action committee called New Direction PAC, according to the latest weekly campaign reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. New Direction was formed only in May but has already raised $2.1 million, mostly from Democratic Party and labor union PACs. Washington House Democrats' Harry Truman Fund, which itself has been mostly funded by labor unions, gave the $750,000, helping make New Direction the third-richest PAC in Washington (after Washington Education Association and Washington Realtors). New Direction has spent barely one-fourth its money to date, much of it on direct-mail ads attacking Republican legislators.

Integrity Washington

Integrity Washington — the group pushing to restrict the influence of big money in Washington elections with I-1464 — has received its biggest donation to date: $400,000 from Jonathan Soros, son of billionaire George Soros (and a wealthy liberal philanthropist in his own right). Soros the younger has now given a total of $475,000 to the campaign, just shy of its leading donor, philanthropist Connie Ballmer (wife of Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer). She's given $500,000.

See Integrity Washington/I-1464 contributions

Integrity Washington has raised nearly $2.49 million, nearly three-fourths of it (73 percent) from outside Washington, with the biggest share coming from New York state. Of that out-of-state money, one chunk came from far, far away: Star Wars and Star Trek director J.J. Abrams of Beverly Hills beamed himself into Washington politics with a contribution of $100,000.

Republican state senators

In the last two weeks, Washington’s state and local Republican parties have dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into hotly contested state Senate races. Sen. Stephen Litzow, R-Bellevue, running against Democrat Lisa Wellman, received $135,000 from Republican Party organizations in late September. Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, received $128,500 from Republican Party organizations.

Interest in the races comes as both parties hope to control the state Senate. With the latest influx of Republican Party money, eight of the top 10 most prolific fundraisers aiming for seats in Olympia are Republican. Litzow sits atop the heap, having raised $571,000 to date.