Politics
Candidates for Seattle city council in district 7, Jim Pugel, left, and Andrew Lewis, right, debate on Thursday, September 26, 2019, at Town Hall Seattle.
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Candidates for Seattle city council in district 7, Jim Pugel, left, and Andrew Lewis, right, debate on Thursday, September 26, 2019, at Town Hall Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattleites, you're facing a wave of biz-PAC spending in City Council races

Money is now pouring into the race for Seattle City Council.

Amazon kicked in a million bucks for CASE this week, and that pro-biz PAC just spent more than $300,000 for cable TV ads in favor of several council candidates.

They include Phil Tavel (District 1-West Seattle), Heidi Wills (D6-Ballard, Fremont) and Jim Pugel (D7-downtown, Queen Anne).

The ads start running this weekend, according to disclosures to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. That's just as voters are getting their ballots in the mail.

The money is going to Screen Strategies Media, an agency based in Fairfax, Virginia, that Influence Watch says is known for serving Democrats and center-left clients. Data on Open Secrets shows Screen Strategies Media was the third biggest national vendor during the 2017-2018 election cycle.

Over the past week or so, CASE has also paid about $311,000 to Zero Week Solutions of Ventura, California, for canvassing and phone banking.

Other big recent expenditures by CASE, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy:

--$109,000 for direct mail to Moore Campaigns of Washington, D.C.

-- $37,000 for canvassing literature to Archway Consulting Group of Tacoma.

--$24,000 for media production to the firm Kully Struble of Seattle.

Besides Tavel, Wills and Pugel, other beneficiaries are candidates Egan Orion (D3-Capitol Hill, Central District) and Alex Pedersen (D4-University District, Northeast Seattle).

And where is all that money coming from? Amazon, mostly. This week's $1 million contribution to CASE brings its total contributions to $1.4 million.

And CASE isn’t the only group spending on the same slate of candidates.

People for Seattle paid Screen Strategies Media $222,000 in the past week or so in support of Wills and Pugel.

It’s also paid Kully Struble $151,970 in support of Orion, Pedersen, Wills and Pugel.

But PACs that oppose the pro-business slate are also active.

On Wednesday the UNITE HERE Local 8 PAC reported spending $150,000 on TV and online ads in support of Andrew Lewis, Pugel's District 7 opponent. It spent another $119,000 for staff salaries and canvassing in backing Lewis. This is the PAC for a labor union representing hotel workers. (See this PAC's spending.)

And CAPE -- Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy -- is also active. It's spent about $224,000 in the past week.

Much of that has been aimed at supporting Dan Strauss, Wills' opponent in District 6. Note: $40,000 of that money came from a contribution to CAPE from SEIU 775NW that was earmarked to back Strauss. (See this PAC's spending.)

And remember: All of this is "independent expenditures" -- in addition to any candidate spending. And, of course, these PACs aren't allowed to coordinate with the candidates.

Updated, 12:50 p.m., 10/18/2019: This story has been updated with new expenditures by People for Seattle.

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