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Politics Northwest

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

August 25, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Bill and Melinda Gates give $1M in support of background checks on gun buyers

Each contribution reads like a Lotto payout: three contributions from mega-wealthy donors amounted to $2 million donated last week to support background checks on gun buyers.

The money is flowing to WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is advocating for I-594 in November’s general election vote, which would mandate background checks on gun purchases.

Billionaire entrepreneur Nick Hanauer gave $1 million on Aug. 19, according to state campaign finance records. (Hanauer, if you’ll remember, was the target of some campaign commentary by National Rifle Association lobbyist Brian Judy claiming that gun control caused the Holocaust.)

And then Bill and Melinda Gates each gave $500,000 on Friday, for $1 million total, which appeared on the state’s campaign-finance disclosure database today.

Those contributions come atop $500,000 given by Microsoft co-owner Paul Allen on Aug. 11.

The heavy hauls bring the WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility to about $5.8 million raised.

Meanwhile, the groups opposing I-594 appear, for now, to not be actively fundraising. The National Rifle Association’s anti-I-594 spending group — Washingtonians Opposed to I-594 — has not raised any money other than the $25,000 that NRA put into it on July 11.

And another anti-I-594 group, WA Citizens Against Regulatory Excess (WECARE), hasn’t taken in any donations or in-kind contributions since July 31. WECARE is overwhelmingly funded by the Citizens Committee For The Right To Keep And Bear Arms.

Are gun-rights advocates instead concentrating their money on this year’s other gun initiative, I-591? That measure would bar the state from both seizing guns and conducting background checks. (And, if both initiatives passed, it might set things up for an interesting legal debate over what exactly voters want.) The pro-I-591 spending group, Protect Our Gun Rights, has been much more active, raising nearly $1 million.

Big-dollar donations there are coming largely from other advocacy groups, like Washington Arms Collectors, which has donated $500,000 across several donations. The Citizens Committee For the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has put in a chunk of money, here too, donating $250,000. And the Gun Owners Action League has kicked in another $100,000.

 

Comments | More in 2014 elections, Gun initiative | Topics: background checks, Bill Gates, i-594

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