Buckshnis, Bernheim question Affordable Housing Council donation to Wilcox campaign

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As the November general election gets closer, candidates as well as interested observers are keeping a close watch on the actions of their opponents, including what is filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission

My Edmonds News has received emails in past few days from two Edmonds City Councilmembers — Diane Buckshnis and Steve Bernheim — questioning an expenditure of $700 on behalf of Buckshnis’s general election opponent, Bob Wilcox (who narrowly edged her in the August primary). The expense was reported on a C6 form, which is filed with the PDC to list independent expenditures “not made in cooperation, consultation or concert with — or at the request or suggestion of” a candidate or candidate’s representative.

The form, filed by the Affordable Housing Coalition, listed a $200 expense to Bellevue-based Labels and Lists for “data” and $500 for “phones” to Arlington, VA.-based Advantage, Inc., a political marketing firm.

Turns out that the Affordable Housing Coalition is a political action committee affiliated with the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. Scott Hildebrand, public policy director of the association, noted that the AHC “has not made any contributions to Mr. Wilcox’s campaign” but rather made “an independent expenditure in support of the campaign,” and filed the form “as legally required.” The expenditures were used to purchase a phone list and make phone calls to Edmonds voters in support of Wilcox’s campaign, Hildebrand said.

Bernheim, who advocated for successful passage of a law limiting individual campaign contributions to $500 per candidate in Edmonds, acknowledged that the AHC contribution was legal. However, he sent My Edmonds News and other media outlets a long list of questions that he thought should be asked of Wilcox and Scott Hildebrand, the AHC contact listed on the C-6 form.

“Does Wilcox support campaign contribution limits?” Bernheim asked. “If so,  what’s his message to his corporate supporters ? “Stop” or ‘go get ‘em’?  How does Wilcox feel about the campaign contribution limits ? Does he believe corporations  should be able to give unlimited amounts to campaign efforts ? Does he believe that’s good policy ?”

Bernheim also asked whether Wilcox had ever had coffee with Hildebrand “since announcing his campaign” or if Wilcox “ever discussed his candidacy with Hildebrand (the Homebuilder ‘public policy’ i.e. LOBB YING director who is the front man for the  ‘affordable housing’ council?”

“Corporate influence, man, they’re buying the election… ,” wrote Bernheim, who said he is not supporting either candidate. “No one’s saying it’s illegal (except for that weird part that Hildebrand is the master builder’s lobbyist, and he’s the contact person for the affordable housing council. Why didn’t the master builders give the money ?).  But I’m saying it stinks and evades the purpose of Edmonds limitations on individual campaign contributions, and Hildebrand, a registered lobbyist, knows it … or should know it.”

Wilcox, the retired owner of Wilcox Construction, said that he has talked to Hildebrand three times in his life: Monday night, to clarify the current expenditure; “several years ago, when I called him and voiced my displeasure of the Master Builders endorsement of a former member of the Edmonds City Council,” and just after the primary when Hildebrand called Wilcox to congratulate him on his victory.

Wilcox said he has no problem with the AHC expenditure made on behalf of his campaign.  “On my desk when I was president of Wilcox Construction and still today is a copy of Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.  I have read it several times and am still amazed at the wisdom of our founders and the blueprint they gave our country. The First Amendment of that great document allows the Affordable Housing Council the freedom to do what they did. As long as they did it according to the law, which they did, I have no problem with it.

“As to the alleged accusations that I met with Mr. Hildebrand after I declared my candidacy and that we somehow colluded to exchange his in-kind donation in exchange for my support of the policies of the Affordable Housing Council, this is a blatant lie,” Wilcox added. “I have spent a lifetime in service of my country, my community, raising a family of good citizens and doing my best to uphold the integrity of the name my Father left at Wilcox Construction and in the community. To have one’s integrity attacked with nefarious accusations by both elected and appointed council members is an excellent example of why we need change.  We will continue to move forward with a positive message and aim for the general election in November.”

51 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Bernheim may not be supporting either candidate, but public disclosure data indicates that his wife, Ms. Susan Bauer, contributed $150.00 to Ms. Buckshnis campaign on July 11, 2011.

  2. Mr Wilcox cleverly avoided saying whether he had met or talked with Mr. Hildebrand. In fact, he didn’t answer a single question posed to him.

    Instead he went on a rant about his military record, his Father, his children, his career, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He apparently left off his Mother, the Flag and apple pie, but perhaps his response was edited for brevity.

    The only meaningful statement he made about ethics, was “As long as they did it according to the law, which they did, I have no problem with it.”

    If his response indicates his temperament, he’s really scaring me.

  3. I am going to preface my comments by saying that I have not made up my mind about this election. I am stuck between voting for a DINO and a Republican. And, to me, it does matter how people associate themselves because there are some fundamental values that I associate with and hope that the people who represent me share. These fundamental values include creating working wage jobs and seeing people who work in for our City as our neighbors and friends — not just workers.

    I find it interesting that Bernheim and Buckshnis would bring up “secret meetings” when in fact they forget the infamous secret meeting they held at Engle’s Pub. And, interestingly enough, that meeting was held just before the Council announced it was buying the infamous Skipper’s Property.

    Re Mr. Wilcox, I believe he was trying to say something like he didn’t break the law and everything the group followed the letter of the law. Unfortunately, he did not frame his answer is a very good way and I hope that once he has had a few minutes to think, he will give a more coherent answer.

    After having running a campaign myself, I view these kind of attacks differently than I did before. Here is what I learned during my campaign:

    (1) People respond to dirty campaigning. I believe it is human nature for people to pick up gossip so that they feel better for themselves. For example, during my campaign, I was hit for missing a few elections. Frankly, I’ve always voted and just didn’t remember why or how I could have missed them. The only thing that I could think of was that my then husband was deployed and a few things fell through the crack while I was raising my children, managing a house, and a growing business, and contributing to my community single handed. Hey, but, never mind we are all human. Let’s not give anyone a break for being human. Let’s just listen to negative campaigning. That is the average voter. I see that Ms. Buckshnis has taken a clue from her mentor Mr. Plunkett and has started hitting the negative campaign trail.

    (2) When negative facts come out, the candidate is most often the last person to hear it and is just responding. For example, when my voting record came out I should have explained what had happened. I should have said, I am human. Stuff happens. But, I was embarrassed because I realized that I was not super human. Instead I outlined all of the other things I was doing for the community during that time. Similarly, I suspect, Mr. Wilcox has simply reacted. I hope he has a strong group of people who can help him so that he is not running a reactive campaign. He will lose, if his campaign is merely reactive.

    BTW, Ms. Buckshnis has been endorsed by at least one Democratic organization. As such, she will be getting a list of voters that is worth more than $500. How do I now this? I had the benefit of the same list during my campaign. I suspect Ms. Buckshnis will be using that list. The Democrats will also be doing independent expenditures in the form of flyers. I challenge Ms. Buckshnis to walk her own talk and not to accept THOSE donations or independent expenditure.

    Excuse any typos or grammar errors. This stuff makes me so mad, I am seeing stars. Can we get back to the business of clean campaigning?

  4. Well said, Priya! Mr. Plunkett’s campaign against you was unfair. It was unfortunate that it was also effective. It didn’t sway my vote.

    I didn’t know about the ways that the major parties can assist in nonpartisan elections. It’s another example of how outside influences can sway local elections. The Citizens United decision this year giving corporations First Amendment rights was in my view one of the very worst decisions ever made by the Supreme Court. Democracy hung her head in shame when it happened.

  5. Joe:

    You’ve been very active on this site for several months now and I enjoy reading your posts. What puzzles me is that I can find no one, including a former politician who usually knows everyone, who knows a Joe Morgan. Is Joe Morgan a resident of Edmonds and a registered voter? Or is Joe Morgan an alias?

  6. Sorry Ron, I’m not going to respond to any questions about me or my personal life. It’s a slippery slope.

    I am grateful you enjoy reading my posts. I likewise enjoy yours.

  7. Waving the Constitution and “keeping it on (my) desk” has become synonymous with the extreme right (it is questionable if this means actually reading the Constitution) Does Mr. Wilcox mean that anyone questioning the ethics of buying an election must be un-American?
    Mr. Wilcox should be very careful in starting down that road. Many Americans have been burned by candidates who cover themselves with the flag.

  8. I was probably a little too defensive in my last message. I may have been overreacting to the fact that Ron decided to bring Steve Bernheim’s wife into the discussion.

    Yes I’m a registered voter. Joe is not my legal first name but it’s what I use. Just as DJ is not Councilmember Wilson’s legal name.

    I don’t know any Edmonds politicians, present or former so you shouldn’t be surprised they don’t know me. My privacy is important to me.

  9. @Carol , I dislike the right as much as the next guy however, I am also sick of people yelling every time a candidate takes donations and finger points another candidate’s donations. If a candidate is going to finger point, that candidate should have clean hands. And, I can tell you that Ms. Buckshnis will have independent expenditures coming her way. Before she can point fingers, I’d like her to send a letter to all her endorsers asking that they not make any expenditures on her behalf. WALK THE TALK!

  10. Not to stay off topic, but the names of registered voters are public record, so you can always call the county auditor if you’re that interested.

  11. No, I don’t think Mr. Bernheim’s wife’s contributions are relevant. If he were a candidate for office, I would hold him to a higher standard.

    Ron, you’re a smart guy and I have a lot of respect for you. You’re really at your best when you stick to issues.

  12. Does anyone still believe the fairy tale that this election is not about downtown building heights??? And so it is now as in the past 4o years that I have observed, truly an election ABOUT BUILDING HEIGHTS.

    Its supposed to be a non partisan election, so why does it seem that our building heights party comprised of builders, developers, and downtown Chamber is seeking to elect Earling, Wilcox, etc. for their own partisan interests?

    Mr. Wilcox apparently received a $700 contribution exceeding the Edmonds ordinance limit of $500. His response appears to be totally defensive, virtually a “Go to Hell, Ms. Buckshnis. Not too swift really.

    WA PDC will be interested and watching, but not involved. The only possible legal enforcement will come from our Edmonds city code enforcement officer, but don’t hold your breath. That office has taken mild corrective action in one past election to my knowledge and that on a minor sign issue only.

    Mr. Wilcox apparently does not give a rip as to complying with a local law that has few teeth in it. But THE VOTERS WILL MAKE THE DECISION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THEY WANT A SCOFFLAW ON OUR COUNCIL.

    A similiar issue occurred years ago when a stooge candidate of Earling/Haakenson was accused by myself of violating an Edmonds election ordinance.

    The WA PDC would not be involved, but were interested. I sought enforcement, with none coming from the city and Mayor Haakenson. I met with Mark Roe, the Asst county criminal prosecutor. He explained politely that he all ready had more than a full plate of muders, rapes, and other assorted mayhems to even consider getting involved in Edmonds small stuff. And of course, he was right.

    Now, as the issue was beginning to get more and more unwanted attention, the Mayor “leaped into action” and “solved” everything by getting the Council to cancel the City Ordnance that was being violated. Thus, no ordinance, no crime or even acknowledgement of same. And I’m sure Earling will use that same kind of leadership if given the opportinity to do so by the voters. Haakenson and Earling may be of different parties but their managerial style is as two peas in the same pod.

    The scofflaw survived that election but was voted out of office in his next election.

    I believe Edmonds voters will more often than not select the most qualified candidate and in this case it is my opinion that Diane Buckshnis will be the clear winner in November. Voters generally do not approve of scofflaws.

    A final off track note: Mr. Joe Morgan, like Ron W. I enjoy your writngs sometimes, and sometimes not so much, Ron asks an excellent question. Who are you? And are you an alias?

  13. I see there have been several entries as I composed my statement.

    Joe, if Joe isn’t your name I will find it difficult to communicate with you if thts what I’m left with. The term DJ doesn’t cut it either unless accompanied by his real first name, which happens to be DONALD.

    For example I did not know what DJ’s first name was, and it took a bit of reaserch. I had heard that DJ had sued an elderly and confused lady and had ended up with her property which she had intended to belong to her son. For those individuals seeking to know the true story and court record of DONALD J Wilson and his time consuming legal activiites which certainly had to interfere with his duties as a Councilman this would only interfere and discourage one’s abilirity to identify him as that individual. And after due diligence studying the court records I am not at all pleased have DJ if you will or Donald or whoever serving on our City Council..

    Joe, I’m trying to tell you, I need to know exactly who you are? Otherwise I can no longer give much credence to you information.

  14. If the concerned citizens posting on this board spent as much time digging into ALL of the politicians in Edmonds instead of playing private investigator on other posters, this city might be in better shape.

  15. Hello all,

    My name is Matt Wilcox – son of Bob Wilcox – and I am helping him out with his campaign this summer.

    Let’s get a few things cleared up:

    1. My father has never met Mr. Hildebrand, nor was he aware that these contributions were being made. This news came to us as an allegation that his campaign had exceeded contribution limits.

    2. What the Affordable Housing Council did was legal. They did not have our consent to do what they did, but they did not need it and we could not have stopped them – they did not tell us they were doing it. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with this law, the Supreme Court did in fact make their ruling on the matter over a year ago.

    3. Might as well put this to rest also – Bob Wilcox is against tall buildings. Yes he ran a commercial construction company (mainly built restaurants like Starbucks, Pagliacci, etc.), no that does not equate to a desire for tall buildings in Edmonds.

    4. Throughout my entire life, even while visiting him at work when I was little, I remember seeing the copy of the Constitution on his desk and an American Flag hanging in the entry way of his office. One of the most important points he stressed when I was growing up was that, as an American, I needed to read and have an understanding of the Constitution. Makes sense to me. How that makes him a part of the extreme right? I’m not so sure. He also stressed service to country and community, my grandfather was a WWII Fighter Pilot, my brother is an active Officer in the USMC and my father is a Vietnam Veteran. There is no political agenda when stating facts like these – they simply help make up who he is. The fact is, there really are some people in this world who are genuine in their love of country and my dad is one of them, and I don’t believe he will ever hide that.

  16. Are you people for real? You are witch hunting Joe Morgan? If that is his real name? Seriously? You know, they make drugs to treat paranoia these days. Get a job! You have way too much time on your hands.

  17. Matt,

    Thanks for adding the helpful comments about Mr Hildrebrand. This pretty much clears up my concerns about the whole matter.

    I was annoyed by your Father’s comments about his military service and the Constitution. I salute his military service – you have every right to be proud of him for that. I think the Constitution may be the most brilliant document ever created. I share his admiration for it and his belief that everybody should know what it says.

    The problem is that none of this is relevant to the matter at hand. I challenge you to show me in the Constitution where it say who can donate to campaigns, how much they can donate, and what kind of disclosures they need to make. I’ve read the Constitution and it’s not there. It took the Supreme Court many months with the help of dozens of legal scholars to reach their conclusions on a small part of that question. And even then, 4 of the 9 Justices disagreed.

    Only your Father can say why he chose to say all that. There are many possible reasons, but I’ll tell you that it made him sound pompous and aloof. It’s the first thing he said that made me question his ability to hold the office he seeks.

    To get a better idea of what I’m saying, take a look at your Father’s comments in this article where I challenged him on an issue of ethics:

    http://myedmondsnews.com/2011/06/wilcox-promises-a-common-sense-approach-if-elected-to-edmonds-city-council/

    He responded in a way that was helpful, succinct and respectful. My respect for him grew back then because of the way he responded.

    Now I’ll grant you that Steve Bernheim was disrespectful in the way he brought up the issue, but that’s no excuse for what your Father said. He doesn’t sound ready to handle the angry pointed accusations that anyone on Council is sure to face in office.

  18. If Steve is not supporting either candidate why has the Buckshnis sign been in his front yard forever? And why the 6 or 7 signs awhile ago? If it looks like and sounds like ‘support for Buckshnis’ than it is! So he is supporting her which is why he throws the old political curve ball @ Wilcox of raising 1,000 questions, 99% of which are not about Edmonds, the campaign or anything of note. This too is an easy strategy to uncover on behalf of the Buckshnis campaign. This much of these 20 responses is relevant going forward that if Mr. Berheim continues to say he supports neither candidate; he has made his selection and should say so as the front of his house declares its loudly!

  19. If Steve thinks the public doesnt know he is supporting Diane than he thinks we are more nieve than I thought. I am afraid this years campaign is going to be marked by inuendo and half truths. I would like to see what Diane had to say about this, also what her comments are on the BD1 votes.

    • Here’s a press release sent by Diane Buckshnis today:

      Bob (“The Builder”) Wilcox Needs to Clarify his Positions

      On August 17, 2011, Bob Wilcox, opponent to Diane Buckshnis for Edmonds City Council,
      received an independent expenditure from a large building association for $700. This amount is
      in excess of the City of Edmonds $500 individual limit but because it is an independent payment,
      the private building lobbyist was able to spend $700 supporting the Wilcox campaign;
      circumventing the limit.
      What is Mr. Wilcox’s position on this hidden contribution? How does Mr. Wilcox feel about his
      building industry buddies spending more money on his campaign than the individual limit
      allows? Does this comply with the spirit of the campaign finance law and the expectations
      Edmonds citizens have for financial transparency?
      Further, what does it say about his real agenda? Does he support taller buildings in downtown
      Edmonds and along the waterfront? Will Mr. Wilcox welcome more “independent” contributions
      on behalf of builders’ consortiums as he already has monies from local builders/developers that
      are within the $500 limit? Does he believe corporations and lobbyists should be allowed to give
      unlimited amounts to his campaign efforts?
      Diane Buckshnis promotes open government, including sticking to campaign limits and serving
      the citizens of Edmonds; NOT special interests. She has never and would not accept an
      “independent”, undisclosed contribution as she could not control the message.
      Do the citizens of Edmonds really want to allow special interests to avoid campaign spending
      limits in support of specific candidates; so as to “buy” their messages?
      Ms. Buckshnis thinks Mr. Wilcox has a lot of explaining to do

  20. Wow, Diane Buckshnis has really taken a page from the Plunkett/Orvis playbook.
    And by page I mean the whole thing.

    I guess if you know you can’t win on your own merits you might as well go all out in attacking your opponent.

  21. Response to Ron W. concerning legality of $700 questioned donation to Mr. wilcox.

    Ron, Yes , you and Steve Bernheim are right I understand. The $700 was a legal way to side slip and double clutch around the intent of the Edmonds ordinance legally. The ordinance was not well written enough to cover such, possibly with the knowledge of the then drafting attorney, who may have been omitting warning the Council of the potential flaw. Its well that the Council hired new counsel in my opinion.

    And Ron, I know you to be a principled man and that you would not do certain things that though legal would be a little too shifty for your set of values. This is one such case.

    So, what we now have is the slick building party partisan operatives (in a non partisan election) dancing around the letter and the true intent of our law.

    The voters will decide in November if that is what they want on their City Council.

  22. Isn’t the Buchshnis press release simply a rehash of what Mr. Bernheim already wrote? Repeating the message over and over doesn’t make it any more factual. If the contribution was hidden, how do Bernheim and Buckshnis know about it? I believe this is all a matter of sour grapes – Mr. Bernheim is smarting because his contribution-limiting legislation is not as effective as he had hoped for, and Ms.Buckshnis resents not being able to attract any large contributions to her campaign.

  23. Well, I gues I got my answer as to Dianes stance on campaign contriputions. I just didnt know she would use the Plunkett approach to make every thing about building heights and builders but if that is the only way you can win by scaring people into voting for you so be it. Mr. Wilcox has already stated he is not for raising building heights. Kirkland has Google and its 850 employees, Bothel is getting Google and 850 employees what is Edmonds getting ?. Dont worry developers are not running to Edmonds with our anti growth and development stance. Where are the ideas to get more business for Edmonds .Take a look at Bothell and Mount Lake Terrace. I could be wrong but I believe Diane was in favor of under some conditions of raising building heights in the BD1 zone. As stated above I think this could be one of the most negative campaigns in Edmonds history To bad as I thought we had moved on from that but it is just Plunkett and Orvis all over again

  24. “Slick building party partisan operatives” Ray?

    Where were you when Michael Plunkett accepted $500 in 2005 from these slick building party partisan operatives?

    Where were you when Michael Plunkett again accepted $250 in 2009 from these slick building party partisan operatives?

    Or when Dave Orvis took $500 in 2007 from these very same slick building party partisan operatives?

    Or was it cool because you support those candidates and now you, like Diane Buckshnis are just manufacturing something out of a non-issue?

  25. Ms. Buckshnis:

    How do you feel about taking independent expenditures. You have a few endorsements that will put you over that limits to. How about an open letter certifying that you will not accept any independent expenditures either. LET’S SEE YOU WALK THE TALK!

    Edmonds! The Tall Building Boogey Man is Walking amongst us! SCARE SCARE SCARE….directive straight from Karl Rove.

  26. If Diane would read the story that she helped get writen in My Edmonds News she can see that Bob didn’t say he wanted taller buildings like the e-mail I read where she states she would support taller buildings.

    Let me put that in the third person: Paul Anderson says that Ms. Buckshnis supports taller buildings.

    Also, what’s with the Bob (“The Builder”) Wilcox statement?

    I have to agree with Michael in comment #30.

    Oh well! Happy days to all!

  27. Gee, am just reading this terrifically long thread. Yes, I’m Steve’s wife. Last time I checked my voting ballot was mailed to me personally. And, well, I filled it out all by myself! Will be interesting to see if my new one this October is mailed to Mr. & Mrs. Bernheim. That’s what great about this land. Anyone can say anything they want in public forums no matter how revealing it is about their own biases or how weird they sound to others.

  28. Susan is right, this is a great land that allow for free expression. Wait until you all see some of the Con Statements for the upcomming Levies. Some real creative writing was done to put down the levies. Freedom is important and hopefully the truth will actually find its way into these elections. Stay Tuned.

  29. Mr. Wilcox states he does not want “tall” buildings in downtown Edmonds!

    And what is the definition of “tall”? 5, 10, 15, 40, above current building heights, maybe?. Or what?

    Higher heights proponents have often used the same or similiar evasive slick stance when running for office only to later prove highly disappointing. Andt look out if they are elected.

    If he were to be fully forthright, then he would make an unequivocal statement, NOW, one way or the other such as:: I oppose and will continue to oppose any increase in building heights in the downtown bowl area OR I will consider appropriate building height increase proposals should they be put forward.

    Edmonds voters largely prefer straight direct fully complete and honest statements from their candidates. We want to know Mr wilcox’s full and true intentions concerning our wonderful small downtown environment!

  30. Now that Mr. Bernheim is no longer running for city council he strongly opposes the $700.00 contribution that Mr. Wilcox received. But it was ok for Mr. Bernheim to take $700.00 back in 2007 from Bell Street Builing Associates LLC. Perhaps that was actually from himself?

  31. One of the other considerations in building downtown is design concepts that won’t detract from this part of the city (good design is important everywhere not just in the downtown/Bowl). Downtown has some 2 and 3 story examples of bad buildings that don’t add anything to the area. It’s not enough to hold the line of good v. evil @ 30 feet if bland buildings are one result. Visitors won’t flock here because no building is over 30 feet, it’s more because our commercial/residential buldings have something to offer and make a statement about our history as a seafront town and efforts towards sustainability in operation. So it might be time to reword the ‘pledge’ that some want from office seekers, and look to add other good ideas.

  32. I see that Ms. Buckskins monitors this site and participates on it however, has failed to respond to repeated request to certify that she advise her endorsers that she does not want independent expenditures made on her behalf. I continue to ask her to lead by example however, she has not taken the opportunity to do so.

  33. It would be nice to have some place on My Edmonds News to just post someting about each candidate pro or con. If we had a place that was Candidate A Pro, and Candidate A Con then we could all just say what we want about each candidate. Between now and the election I would be more interested in having the candidates speak to us aobut specific issues so we can all draw a real comparison between them to make an informated decision. I for one care more about the candidates postions on issues and now the political contributions issues.

  34. Re Ron’s #40… the difference between his questions and mine are that I do my research before I ask the questions. He could find out about Bell Street by doing a little research. That contribution was from my office landlord, not a special interest corporate PAC with the publiclly stated aims of lining up candidates who stand with their corporate Sno- and King- building policies.

    Also, of course, $700 contributions to a candidate’s campaign were legal in 2007.

    It’s most doubtful corporate, profit-driven, out-of-town PACs, the only ones who can realisticly afford to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on “independent” contributions, are going to give to Diane’s campaign.

    I agree myedmondsnews could do us all a favor by sponsoring an “ask the candidate” webniche. We could ask Diane, “how come you don’t reject corporate PAC money, huh, you hypocrite?” and “Mr. Wilcox, how come your PDC reports don’t show any expenditures for yard signs, newspaper ads in the beacon, or myedmondsnews ad purchases ?”

    On the heights issue, pretty much all buildings in town 30 feet and over are either boxes or — from the point of view of my personal taste — undesireable, or have empty below ground retail space. I didn’t build them and the code didn’t require them. Builders chose to build them that way.

    That’s a good question about Master Builders support for Plunkett and Orvis, both of whom made is pretty darn clear where they stood on raising height limits downtown. Dave’s money also came from a Swift Boater. Frankly, as I’ve said, I definitely take into account, when I go into the voting booth, “who is sponsoring this candidate? Why do wealthy private donors want this person elected ? Why do corporate out-of-town PACs support this candidate?” Those are fair questions, not the only questions, but very fair questions.

    DISCLOSURE OF THE SOURCE OF CAMPAIGN MONEY is the only protection human, two-legged voters have against corporate, non-human money in the form of TV ads, internet ads, yards signs, and robocalls buying our local elections. Rejecting candidates because they are supported by corporate, profit-driven out of town PACs is a legitimate voter response. Profit-driven corporate PACs, just like human beings, have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money independently in support of the candidates they believe will do the best work for them.

    That’s why wealthy Democratic donors from Mercer Island, whose candidates I generally support, give money to DJ Wilson, Patty Murray, and Alan Grayson (the congressman with guts); that’s why the largest manufacturer of plastic bottles in the northwest gives to DJ Wilson. It’s OK and wonderfully legal (even though it may eventually lead to the downfall of America). That’s why 85% of one candidate’s contributions over $200 (as currently reported) are from out of town.

    I’d rather all candidates for Edmonds mayor and Edmonds city council voluntarily accept only local contributions within local limits. At least we’d have fewer robo calls. But I understand that lots of people think robocalls are a positive part of local campaigns. That goes for candidates I’m likely to vote for, and candidates I’m not likely to vote for.

    Disclosure of the source of campaign contributions is a legitimate part of the debate.

  35. I’m with Steve Bernheim on this one. We can and should ask questions about campaign finances.

    The one caveat: we must be careful not to assume that a candidate holds every principle or idea espoused by the donor.

    People are complex, and candidates, frankly, have to hustle for money, or they lose. Now, when they receive a donation from a source that has questionable motives (developer, builder’s group, plastic bottle manufacturer), asking the candidate direct questions about their connection to the donor is the right recourse, rather than assuming that the candidate is “paid for”. As the saying goes, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” For example, why is Plunkett funded by a Transportation union, to the tune of thousands of dollars? Now THAT is a weird relationship to explore.

    The whole issue of campaign finance is a key hurdle to getting more qualified candidates to run for office. Even for a little local office like Edmonds City Council. It feels dirty, to anyone with a conscience, to ask for money – even five bucks from a friend. But we want those people in office.

    Our local limit on donation size is a great step forward to helping reduce the scale of campaigning, but the basic framework of campaign finance sadly remains a part of our system. Representative democracy is a messy system, to be sure, and will remain so.

    Keep asking questions, Steve!

  36. Steve:
    You can legitibly fault me for some things, but not for doing insufficient research to get facts. I checked out Bell Street Building Associates LLC to the best of my ability – primarily Google – but still don’t know who owns the company.

    Todd:
    When determining who to vote for, who they got their money from is way down my list of important factors. I’m much more interested in if they have a brain, are knowledgeable, and are willing to do the hard work as opposed to treating the position as a hobby -only doing council work when they have nothing else to do.
    I have closely followed the council for 9 years. During that period I am not aware of any Edmonds elected official ever casting a vote as a result of any contribution. I believe that, until recently, campaign finance has been a non-issue in Edmonds. I now am concerned by the amount of money being given to a few candidates by trade unions. But I’ll still vote for any of them that are otherwise the best candidate.

    .

  37. Todd:
    I agree with your assertion that a single donor (individual or business) does not define a candidate’s position. But as a scientist, I look for trends. And, in terms of political perspectives on issues, those trends of support may indicate more than a candidate might or might not be willing to say (at least without wiggle room). For instance, if two candidates receive contributions from nearly the same number of donors. But over 25% of one candidate’s contributors arguably represent a specific “interest”. And that candidate receives almost 3-fold the cash contributions, largely due to support from those “interests” being at or near the maximum limit. And that candidate’s opponent does not receive support from those “interests”. Would you agree that this trend might suggest a position that candidate may have? How’s it go?… “Follow the money… Money talks, baloney walks.”

    Ron:
    All voters, including you and I, base our voting decisions on many factors. There are some voters that base their decisions on single issues and that is their right to do so. Are you really suggesting, for instance (choosing an issue unrelated to Edmonds politics)… if one candidate were to receive very large donations from the NRA (and those known to be against gun control) but the opponent receives nearly zero… that this says nothing about expectations for positions that the candidates espouse? Are you really suggesting that campaign contributions have no basis in understanding a candidate’s position? And these contributions never play a role in legislation. The role of money in elections (and debates regarding such) in our country dates back to the constitutional convention! Perhaps, you’re unaware of any situation in our city’s recent electoral history in which a candidate took a particular position when running for election, garnering much support from those that felt strongly about it. But flipped, once elected, and then failed to be re-elected. Apparently, expectations of supporters do matter.

  38. Steve:
    Thank you; I’ve added the Wa site to my favorities.

    Rich:
    Of course there’s truth in what you’ve said, but some clarification is needed. Using your NRA example, for me the contribution is only likely to be relevant if the candidates are comparable in other respects since the elected person will have to deal with many more issues than those related to the NRA.
    Taking a pre-election position and then flipping after being elected is certainly an issue, but I don’t see its relevance to contributions.

  39. #46 Todd…you are correct…it is hard to ask for money as it is not about the money, it is about the issues. Your ex can easily check with both D endorsements and see I haven’t ask for any voting lists…I am so over her dramatic commentary.

  40. Ms. Buckshnis:

    Are you afraid to post your responses to me directly? Are you trying to get on Todd’s good side by smacking me? ROFLMAO!

    Overly dramatic?! I think it is cheap and overtly dramatic to attack Mr. Wilcox in the manner you did. If you had questions about his expenditures, why not do it in a gentle womanly way and ask him in private first. Why make it an issue in this campaign. Now that the door is open, you need to answer the same questions. And, my questions still stands; Most, if not all of your pack endorsers, will send out mailers with your name on it. Those are independent expenditure. In many case, depending on how many mailing there are, they will cost over $500. How about just sending a letter to those endorsers now asking not to make any independent expenditures on your behalf?

    Why don’t you certify here that you will not be taking any independent expenditures. It is simple enough to do. Put this matter to bed and make me shut-up! Make me eat crow! I DARE YOU! Won’t do it will you?

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