PDC: Sen. Doug Ericksen’s campaign cash coming mostly from special interests, corporations

More than three-quarters of cash contributions made to incumbent state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, have come from corporations, special interest groups, businesses or political action committees, according to state records.

By Sept. 12, PACs and other groups had donated $166,625 from 249 contributions, to make up roughly 77 percent of Ericksen’s campaign cash, Public Disclosure Commission records show.

That is about $120,000 more than Democratic challenger Seth Fleetwood has raised from similar groups. The two face off in the Nov. 4 general election for the 42nd District seat.

As of Sept. 6, Fleetwood had raised about $41,075 from 56 contributions from labor unions, businesses, tribes and PACs, to make up about 25 percent of his cash.

Some of Ericksen’s biggest donors included insurance and pharmaceutical companies, railroads, cable and internet providers, and oil, propane and coal companies. Ericksen is chairman of the Senate’s Energy, Environment and Telecommunications committee, and served on the transportation committee.

Fleetwood’s largest donors were unions representing health-care workers, state employees and teachers; area tribes and Democratic groups.

Contributors of all types look to invest in a specific philosophy, not specific issues, Ericksen said.

“Clearly I tend to be the limited-government, free-market candidate in this race,” Ericksen said. “Individuals and corporations who share that will tend to donate to me. ... There’s never any expectation of a particular vote on a bill, and I would say that’s true for Seth, too.”

Among individual donors, Fleetwood has taken the lead by far, with 1,074 contributions from individuals, totaling $122,192, mostly from donors who live in Bellingham and Seattle, state records show.

“My campaign is people-powered,” Fleetwood said. “People in Whatcom County know me and have supported me over the years.”

Ericksen’s 368 contributions from individuals totaled about $51,000, and were mostly out of Bellingham, Blaine, Lynden and Everson.

“One of the hard parts about getting 57 percent in the primary (election) is that a lot of my local supporters have to be reminded it’ll be a hard campaign,” Ericksen said. “I’m quite confident that number will even up in coming months.”

Campaign donors are limited to a maximum contribution of $950 to legislative candidates for the primary and the general election, or a total of $1,900 during the campaign.

Fleetwood had 10 “maxed out” donors and Ericksen had 22, according to what has been reported by each campaign.

Fleetwood has a handful of out-of-state donations, mostly from friends, with one maxed-out donor in Hawaii, Salida del Sol, Inc. Fleetwood said he didn’t recognize that company. He was not surprised that most of his contributions came from with Washington state. Some of his other maxed-out donors included Service Employees International Union, the senate Democrats’ Kennedy Fund, and the Northwest Tribal PAC.

Ericksen has had a smattering of donations from corporations headquartered around the country, including maxed-out donors Verizon (Oklahoma), Pacific Propane PAC (Arizona), NRA Political Victory Fund (California) and Liberty Mutual Insurance (Massachusetts).

“Out-of-state companies always have an in-state presence when they contribute,” Ericksen said.

Fleetwood’s campaign has spent about 76 percent of total contributions, including more than $20,000 in in-kind donations from the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign.

Ericksen’s campaign, on the other hand, has only spent about 34 percent of total contributions, including about $30,000 in in-kind donations from the Washington State Republican Party.

Both candidates said they would like to make changes to campaign finance rules and processes.

Ericksen said he would favor instant disclosure of deposits.

Fleetwood said he wished there was a different finance system.

“Frankly, I wish there was a system in which we could run and not engage in the money race,” Fleetwood said.

This story was updated Sept. 15, 2014 to reflect the proper percentage of special interest and PAC donations made to Fleetwood.


Here’s a map of campaign contributions to Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and challenger Seth Fleetwood, who face off in the Nov. 4 general election for the 42nd District seat. The blue pins on the map represent donations to Fleetwood. Red pins represent donations to Ericksen.

Note: Some users may notice changes as they zoom into the map. For instance, in areas with multiple donations, the mapping program assigned pins to one area, which makes some places look as though contributors there only donated to one candidate. For example, Fleetwood had 743 donations from Bellingham and Ericksen had 201 donations from Bellingham, but as users zoom into the map, there are only red pins in the city limits, as they are stacked on top of other pins.

To view a full list of contributors to each campaign, visit pdc.wa.gov.