Initiative #1 Opposition Breaks Public Disclosure Laws
Over $350,000, Most From Outside Tacoma, Pours Into Local Election
By Ty Moore
A complaint filed by Tacoma for All with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on Wednesday outlines six clear violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act by the main opposition PAC, “No on Tacoma Measure 1” and two organizations behind the PAC.
For months we’ve had evidence of a dark money shadow campaign against us, but the full scale wasn’t clear until a stunning Oct. 10th email from the Association of REALTORS inadvertently shed daylight on their illegal activities. Clearly they wanted to hide, until the very last minute, that opposition to Initiative #1 is primarily funded by national and statewide business interests, not the people of Tacoma.
What’s even more outrageous is that this dark money was spent preparing a Trump-style disinformation campaign. The media has a responsibility to set the record straight on Initiative #1.
Download full complaint below.
Dark Money Opposition Began in June
The “No on Tacoma Measure 1” PAC is a project of the Rental Housing Association of WA, the Multi-Family Housing Association of WA, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Association of Realtors (TPCAR). The email from TPCAR (see attached screenshots) claims that “[u]pon learning Tacoma Measure 1 qualified for the November ballot” on June 23rd, TPCAR “sprang into action.” TPCAR’s staff and government affairs committee “connected with business organizations” to “create a coalition to oppose Tacoma Measure 1.” However, none of this activity was reported to the public as required by law. Instead, this was a major shadow campaign operating out of the public view.
In addition, the Oct. 10th email from TPCAR claimed they had “leveraged” its memberships in National Association of REALTORS and Washington REALTORS, “receiving” $200,000 and $25,000 for their campaign. However, this money was only reported by the PAC on their Oct. 16th filing to the PDC, alongside another $79,999 in contributions, all supposedly only pledged on October 16th. This is despite the TPCAR email claiming they were “receiving” the donation earlier.
Hiding $350,000 From the Public
As further evidence of their illegal activity, “No on Tacoma Measure 1” entered into a $350,000 contract with vendor Access Marketing on September 28. Apparently by coincidence, the combined pledges purportedly received on October 16 were just enough money for the PAC to fulfill this contract. It strains all credulity to suggest that these pledges were not planned or received far in advance. The attached complaint details further violations.
This outside money is funding disinformation to Tacoma voters. The two main talking points on the PAC video are that Initiative #1 will ‘cost taxpayers,’ and make it harder to evict ‘problem tenants’ who ‘engage in criminal activities.’ The media needs to report on these Trumpian lies and scare tactics. Initiative #1 is clear that big landlords, not taxpayers, will be responsible for paying relocation assistance. It’s also clear that only certain economic evictions – for missed rent payments – are protected against. Initiative #1 does nothing to make evictions for any other reason more difficult.