Senate passes Rossi bill to tackle the appearance of corruption

Washington State Senate press release

The Senate on Tuesday took an important step to shield the state’s highest elected office from the appearance of corruption and pay-for-play backroom-dealing. It voted 25-24 to approve a measure that would prohibit entities that engage in collective bargaining with the governor from making contributions to gubernatorial campaigns.

Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, who sponsored Senate Bill 5533, says it just doesn’t look right to allow public-employee unions to make deals with a governor behind closed doors at the same time they are contributing big amounts of money to that governor’s re-election campaign.

“Since 1947 insurance companies have been prohibited from contributing to candidates for state insurance commissioner, because of the appearance of corruption,” said Rossi, who serves on the Senate Commerce, Labor and Sports Committee.

“No such restriction exists involving the governor, even though multimillion-dollar collective-bargaining agreements involving state employees are regularly negotiated with the governor in a back room in Olympia that no one ever sees. We have to make sure that in the state of Washington there is never an appearance of corruption. My bill would clean this up.”

Rossi’s bill, if approved, would:

Prohibit any entity that engages in collective bargaining with the governor from making contributions to any candidate for governor, directly or indirectly;

Prohibit any political committee from making any independent expenditure in support of, or in opposition to, any candidate for governor or making contributions to any candidate for governor, directly or indirectly, unless certain conditions are met; and

Provide for a referendum on the issue.

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

Rossi called on the Democrat-led chamber to follow the Senate’s lead on protecting the integrity of gubernatorial elections and contract negotiations.

“This should be a bipartisan effort,” said Rossi. “I think the House should move this bill forward, and help restore confidence among workers and taxpayers that we are all here in Olympia to serve the people of this state – not the special interests.

“This is a common-sense measure – about cleaning up state government and going after the appearance of corruption. I sincerely hope that is a cause my Democratic friends can get behind.”