Washington voters would be allowed to make $150 in taxpayer-funded donations to legislative candidates every two years under a state initiative proposal preparing to launch this week. Backers of the measure, aimed at the November 2016 ballot, say it would curb the influence of moneyed special interests by creating the new public campaign-financing system, modeled in part on a “Democracy vouchers” initiative approved by Seattle voters last year. While some details are still being finalized, supporters of the Washington Government Accountability Act, calling themselves Integrity Washington, have raised $250,000 from two out-of-state nonprofit groups and put down a $100,000 deposit toward a paid signature-gathering campaign.
The initiative’s centerpiece would be a new “democracy credit” system, allowing voters to make up to three $50 contributions to legislative candidates in each two-year election cycle. To be eligible to receive the money, candidates would first have to demonstrate they have support by raising 75 contributions of at least $10 from within their legislative districts.
The wide-ranging proposal would not stop there. It also would make a host of changes to state campaign-finance and lobbying laws, including a $100 limit on campaign donations by government contractors and lobbyists to candidates for offices with power to benefit them.
The measure also would impose a three-year cooling-off period before former public officials could take a job with firms that lobbied the agency where the official had worked. It also would beef up funding to the state Public Disclosure Commission to enforce the new rules.