It's no secret that the Washington Restaurant Association is conservative. The WRA's "pro-business" lobbying arm proudly "defended the hospitality industry" from paid sick leave and extended unemployment insurance benefits. In the Washington Restaurant Magazine's October issue, the WRA endorsed 67 Republican candidates to 40 Democrats in 25 state races (and those Democrats are overwhelmingly running in races where there's no GOP challenger).
But the WRA's public relations manager, Heather Donahoe, still told me, “We are not a partisan organization.” That's PR speak for "Nothing to see here."
However, a quick look at their political action committee’s donations only reinforces the perception of WRA's right-wing alignment. This election cycle, their PAC raised $323,781 from over 1,700 donors, many of them member restaurants that use the proceeds from your meals to fund their association's right-wing agenda.
Where does your money go?
It goes to forward an overwhelmingly conservative, pro-business agenda. Of the roughly $286,000 expenditures labeled "Political Contributions" on the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission website, the WRA fed Republican candidates and PACs a heaping $237,000 while Democratic candidates were left to nibble on a paltry $49,000. Although the WRA PAC donated to Brad Owen (technically a Democrat) and Frank Chopp (certainly a Democrat and House Speaker), it’s their disproportionately massive contributions to other conservative PACs and candidates that make their spokeswoman's claim of non-partisanship a laughable sham.
The WRA PAC gave $15,000 to the Reagan Fund, a PAC with the unambiguous mission to "push for a Republican majority in Olympia,” and $30,000 to Elect Common Sense Leadership, a committee that has spent over $153,000 on mailers exclusively in support of Republican legislative candidates.
There was also $15,000 to the obviously partisan Senate Republican Leadership committee, and a $30,000 contribution to Jobs PAC, registered to Enterprise Washington, a group that feels “it is vital to elect business-minded legislators” to counteract the organized labor community’s solid representation in Olympia.
And of course the WRA gave $50,000 to Voters Want More Choices, the PAC pushing I-1185, Tim Eyman's latest initiative to impose a two-thirds legislative majority on all tax increases.
The WRA also gave $20,000 to the Republican Governor’s Association and $3,600 to Friends of Rob McKenna, more proof their overtly Republican partisanship. And let’s not overlook their $1100 contribution to Elizabeth Scott, an anti-gay Republican candidate for the state’s 39th legislative district.
The WRA offers members the option of whether to donate 12.5 percent of their dues to their PAC. So can members choose whether or not to support I-1185 and gay-hating Elizabeth Scott? Not exactly. The WRA itself made a $10,000 donation to its own PAC, funded out of general membership dues. And of course, simply joining the WRA helps fund and support its partisan right-wing agenda.
In the words of the Honorable Judge Judy, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” To see through the WRA’s bullshit claim of non-partisanship, follow the money. Some of it is yours.
Contributors from Seattle include: Cadbridge Services US INC ($1031), Consolidated Restaurants ($923), Ivar's INC ($828), Restaurants Unlimited INC ($779), Happy Guests International INC ($1264), Dick's Drive-In ($1199), Sea Town Restaurants ($703), Duke's Corporate ($944), Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel ($577), Flynn Olympic Restaurants LLC ($437), Interstate Hotels Corporation ($437), Space Needle Corporation ($437), Washington Athletic Club ($632), Host Hotels & Resorts INC ($316), Marles INC ($507), Experience Learning Community ($291), Great Western Pacific INC ($243), Ray's Boathouse INC ($243), El Gaucho Tacoma ($362), Sorrento Hotel ($219), 13 Coins ($195), Doughnut Corporation of America ($195), El Gaucho Seattle ($195), EQI FL Corp ($195), JPK Corporation ($195), Waterfront ($195), Azteca Pepe's AR INC ($174), Columbia Tower Club ($169), Pasta & Co. LLC ($169), Seattle Yacht Club ($169), Cactus Restaurants ($153), Northwest Food Processors ($152), Big Dough Co. ($244), Olympic Cascade Services ($244), Ponti Seafood Grill ($150), Azteca Dona Margarita and Don Polo INC ($144), Azteca Sonia's INC ($144), Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Co. ($139), Jet City Restaurant ($139), Sand Point Country Club ($139), Roman Casino ($140), Roxbury Lanes and Casino ($119), 5 Point Cafe ($189), Cafe Lago ($116), Charlie's INC ($116), Quinn's Pub ($189), Bastille Cafe & Bar ($115), Campage Partners LLC ($115), Daily Grill ($115), Lowell's Restaurant & Bar ($115), Seattle Golf Club ($115), Suga Management Corporation ($115), Toulouse Kitchen & Lounge ($115), Cafe Darte LLC ($114), PAC Northwest Drive-Ins LLC ($168), Frans Chocolates ($101), Rainier Club ($194), Blue C Sushi University Village ($94), La Spiga ($94), Boom Noodle University Village ($94), MDC Holdings LLC ($94), Skillet Diner ($94), The Ruins INC ($94), Tony's Events & Catering ($94), World Wrapps Northwest INC ($94), 909 Coffee & Wine ($143), Bavarian Meat Products INC ($88), Cellar Bistro ($88), Salvatore Ristorante Italiano ($88), Vera's Restaurant INC ($88), Dick's Restaurant Supply ($127), Jones Marketing Co. ($127), Azteca JFR ($75), Azteca Mexican Restaurant #37 ($75), Picolino's ($75), Peicora's INC ($75), Ezell's Famous Chicken ($120), Shorty's ($120), Assaggio Ristorante ($73), B & O Espresso ($73), Barrio Capitol Hill ($73), BBD Operations Sequim LLC ($73), Bennett's Pure Food Bistro ($73), Blue C Sushi Alderwood ($146), Blue C Sushi Fremont ($73), Broadmoor Golf Club ($73), CA Mexican Restaurant #3 Kent ($73), Cafe Lago ($73), Cha Cha Lounge ($73), Chang Bros. INC ($73), Charlie's INC ($73), Coast Hotels & Resorts ($73), Crossroads Bar & Grill ($73), Deluxe Bar & Grill ($73), Eastlake Bar & Grill ($73), Eggs Cetera's Blue Star ($123), Elliott Bay Brewery and Pub ($73), Frontier Room ($147), Greenlake Bar & Grill ($73), Hale's Ale's LTD ($73), Il Terrazzo Carmine ($73), Intermountain Restaurants ($73), Jobain INC ($73), Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon, Julia's INC ($73), Kaspar's ($73), Lake Forest Bar & Grill ($73), Linda's Tavern ($73), Lunchbox Laboratory ($146), Madison Holdings INC ($73), Mama's Mexican Kitchen ($73), Mamnoon LLC ($73), Maximilien Restaurant ($73), Ohana ($73), Paragon Restaurant & Bar ($73), Pegasus Pizza & Pasta ($73), Pesos Kitchen & Lounge ($73), Pike Place Chowder ($73), Queen City Grill ($73), Rancho Bravo Tacos Co. ($73), Restaurant Zoe ($73), Rock Salt Steaks & Seafood ($73), Serafina ($73), Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers ($73), Shiro's Sushi ($73), Spitfire ($73), Sunset Club ($73), Tractor ($73), T.S. McHugh's ($73), Tutta Bella - Issaquah ($73), Tutta Bella - Stone Way ($73), Uptown Expresso INC ($73), Women's University Club of Seattle ($73), Belle Epicurean LLC ($107), Charlie's Produce ($64), Approach Management Services ($63), Corfini Gourmet ($63), Garvey Schubert & Barer ($63), Graham & Dunn PC ($63), Peterson Sullivan LLP ($63), Baker Commodities Seattle ($62), Franz Family Bakeries ($119), Elephant & Castle Pub & Restaurant ($61), Essential Foods ($61), Law Office of Stuart A. Hellen ($96), Burgermaster - Aurora ($57), Dynamik - The Business Expert ($93), Great Western Business Group ($57), McKenzie Chase Management ($93), Belltown Pub ($55), Best Western Pioneer Square Hotel ($55), Century Ballroom LLC ($55), Chinoise 45th ($55), Delfino's Pizzeria University Village ($55), Hana Restaurant ($55), Hanson Pam ($55), Innersea Discoveries ($55), Little Water Cantina LLC ($55), Neil's ($55), Quick Pick Drive In ($55), Rock Box ($55), Salvatore Ristorante Italiano ($55), Sand Point Grill ($55), Spur Gastropub ($55), St. Cloud ($55), Teatro Zinzanni ($55), Ten Mercer ($55), Uli's Famous Sausage INC ($55), Vera's Restaurant INC ($55), Talarico's ($80), Clothier & Head ($49), Davis Grimm Payne Marra & Berry ($49), Maitre'd by Posera ($49), Matt McCarthy ($49), Micros Systems INC ($49), R & T Hood & Duct Service ($49), Republic Services INC ($49), 8oz Burger Bar ($46), Cafe Mox ($46), Cafe Presse ($46), CD Northwest INC ($46), Glen Acres Golf & Country Club ($46), Havana ($46), Mariachi Alegre ($46), Mioposto Caffe ($46), Naked City Brewery Taphouse ($46), Norm's Eatery & Alehouse ($46), Northlake Tavern & Pizza House ($46), Pies & Pints ($46), Pike Place Bar & Grill ($46), Stumbling Goat ($46), Via Tribunali ($46), Five Fish Bistro ($43), Al Buccalino Ristorante ($41), Capitol Club ($41), Cafe Bengodi ($41), Double Header Tavern ($41), Lava Lounge ($41), Maximus Minimus ($41), Murphy's Pub ($41), The People's Pub ($41), Perche No Pasta & Vino ($41), Pete's Pizza ($41), Primo ($41), Sodexo at the Seattle Aquarium ($41), Tamura Sushi Kappo ($77), Via Tribunali - Fremont ($41), Via Tribunali - Georgetown ($41), Wild Mountain Cafe ($41), Princess Tours ($40), Alaskan Leader Seafood ($36), Cairncross & Hemplemann ($36), Dinerware ($36), General Biodiesel INC ($36), Gourmet Mixes INC ($36), Gravity Payments ($36), Great Western Business Group ($36), Hospitality Financial & Technical ($36), Law Office of Stephen M. Katz ($36), Leibold Communications INC ($36), Manitowoc Ice Machines ($36), Mechanical Sales INC ($36), Olsen Real Estate Associates ($36), Restaurant Solutions ($36), Robinson-Mauer-Welts INC ($36), Schubert Floorcovering Co. ($36), Seattle City Light ($36), Snorkel Stove Company ($36), Spot Check INC ($36), Talk to the Manager INC ($36), Wine World & Spirits ($36), Al's Tavern ($30), Blue Moon Burgers ($30), Blue Sapphire LLC ($30), College Club of Seattle ($60), Firefly Cafe & Creperie ($30), Kigo Kitchen ($30), Kokoras Greek Grill ($30), Marcela's Cookery ($30), Pizzeria Napoletana ($30), Redwood ($30), Row House Cafe LLC ($30), Showa Restaurant ($30), Silence Heart Nest ($30), Uli's Sausage Biergarten ($30), Wine Tea Chocolate ($30), Hattie's Hat ($35).
Check out the full PDC report here. To find the Seattle-based contributors, click the "City" box to place the cities in alphabetical order, then click to pages 63 to 82.