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.”