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PACs Face Quirk In Washington Law Before They Can Spend Money

Steve Helber
AP Photo
File photo of Tom Steyer

California billionaire Tom Steyer is poised to help Democrats try to win back control of the Washington Senate. But first, his NextGen political action committee had to satisfy a quirk in the law.

Call it the ten-ten rule. In Washington, political committees have to jump a small hurdle before they can play in Washington’s political sandbox. The rule is the committee must receive $10 or more from at least 10 registered Washington voters. Now that NextGen has this bit of local skin in the game, climate activist Tom Steyer is free to start spending some serious on Washington races.

Shannon Murphy, president of Washington Conservation Voters, is one of the ten $10 donors to Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action Committee.

“We’re happy to help NextGen set up their in-state political action committee,” Murphy said.

Last year, Murphy says her organization teamed with NextGen on several Washington races. This year, she gave the $10 to a new NextGen PAC after getting an email request.

“In the end, this is their organization, so you should talk to them about it. I’m supporting their mission by giving the $10 to them,” Murphy said.

The other $10 donors also appear to be employees of political or environmental organizations. So far the PAC has reported no other contributions. However, NextGen has previously said Steyer plans to spend on behalf of Democratic candidates in three to four Washington state Senate races this year.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.