Under Seattle's campaign finance rules, an individual or company can donate up to $500 to a mayoral candidate's campaign. But if that individual or company takes their checkbook to an independent committee working for or against a candidate instead, they can donate as much as they want.
Congratulations. You now understand independent expenditures, or IEs.
At more than $1 million, IE spending has reached record levels in this year's mayoral and city council elections. IEs are also showing up in the race for city attorney and a race for school board. Ads funded by all this spending will be flooding your TVs and web browsers between now and the election next Tuesday.
Below, we're tracking all the IE spending for city races (plus the school board) in the general election and who's buying. I'll update this post as more IE money comes in over the next week. See something I've missed? Encounter an ad funded by one of these groups? Send me an email. Ballots are due November 7.
THE RACE FOR MAYOR
People for Jenny Durkan: Funded by big business and several unions, this IE committee has raised more than any other.
The group has raised about $726,000 since the primary, more than half a million of that from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's PAC, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy or CASE. CASE's biggest donors: Amazon, Vulcan, Century Link, Comcast, Starbucks, and the Washington Association of Realtors. People for Jenny Durkan has also received funding from unions, including $60,000 from SEIU 775 and $50,000 from the Seattle Fire Fighters.
Since the primary, the group reports spending about $96,000 on digital ads, $98,000 on mail, and $494,500 on tv ads. Total: $688,500.
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2: With additional contributions from the Washington Retail Association and the Sheet Metal Workers Local 66, People for Jenny Durkan has now raised about $847,000.
People for Moon reports spending $25,000 on digital ads.
SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL POSITIONS 8 AND 9
Working Families for Teresa: This labor-funded IE spent $108,000 (of $116,000 raised) to support Position 8 candidate Teresa Mosqueda during the primary election. It has raised another $83,000 since the primary with funding from SEIU 775, UFCW 21, the Teamsters, and other unions.
The group reports spending $11,500 to produce tv advertising and about $67,000 to run the ad(s) starting today. Total: $78,500.
Two other groups, Fuse and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, have spent much smaller amounts to support Mosqueda and incumbent city council member Lorena González, who is in a less competitive race for Position 9.
Planned Parenthood has spent about $1,200 on emails in support of Mosqueda and another $1,300 on an email in support of both Mosqueda and González. Fuse, which produces an annual voter guide, reports spending $45 each in support of Mosqueda and González.
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2: Working Families for Teresa reports spending another $2,400 phone-banking in support of Mosqueda. Another group, AFL-CIO offshoot Working America, has spent about $1,800 on Facebook ads supporting Mosqueda. (Working America also reports spending about $459 on staffer salaries and benefits.)
Seattle Police Officers Guild: SPOG paid $8,600 for this newspaper ad against Pete Holmes.
Fuse also reports spending $45 in support of Holmes.
Democrats for Education Reform: This pro-charter school group's PAC reports spending $20,000 on digital ads in support of school board candidate Omar Vasquez. Vasquez, who is running against Zachary DeWolf, previously worked on the board of an organization that operates charter schools.
This post uses information from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission and the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. It will be updated with new information as it becomes available.