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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

August 13, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Ballmers add $250,000 to campaign for gun background checks

The WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility continues to pad its war chest.

The independent spending group is leading the push to get voters to approve in November I-594, a measure that would require background checks for gun sales.

Ex-Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer (and new LA Clippers owner) and his wife Connie were already big donors to the group, but they kicked in an additional $250,000 between them, according to public records.

That brings the group’s total fundraising to about $3.2 million, records show. The group has spent about $2.2 million and still has about $1 million still on hand.

Meanwhile, the two spending groups opposing I-594 continue to lag and don’t appear to be actively fundraising, according to records. The independent spending group known as the National Rifle Association of America Washingtonians Opposed to I-594 has spend about $17,500 of the original $25,000 that it has raised.

A call to NRA lobbyist Brian Judy, whom we last wrote about when he told I-594 opponents gun control caused the Holocaust, went unreturned. Likewise, a call to Chris Cox, the NRA’s executive director for lobbying and who is listed as campaign manage for Washingtonians Opposed to I-594, did not return a call seeking comment.

Meanwhile, another group opposed to I-594, Washington Citizens Against Regulatory Execess (WECARE), has spent nearly all of the $63,000 it had. Almost all of that group’s funding comes from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, records show.

Philip Watson, treasurer for WECARE said he couldn’t speak to the dearth of funding for the NRA group.

But, “Billionaire Seattle area elitists are clearly trying to buy the election,” Watson wrote in an email. “Unfortunately, money buys elections and the average gun owner only makes a living wage.”

But Geoff Potter, spokesman for WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility, points to the 6,500 people “who have contribued from virtually every county across the state” as proof that his group isn’t beholden to the whims of billionaires.

“We also have 345,000 people who signed on to put this intitiate on the ballot,” said Potter.

“We’re grateful for the support of that Ballmers as we are all our donors,” he added.

Comments | More in Gun initiative, Politics Northwest | Topics: i-594, national rifle association, steve ballmer


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