The Chamber of Commerce's campaign cash machine, a PAC known as Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), has started spitting out money.
The PAC recently reported having more than $852,000 in the bank from Amazon, Vulcan Inc., and other Seattle business heavies, but recent filings with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission show that with the August 6 primary election approaching, the Chamber's PAC has doled out $307,769.02 from its cash pile.
The money is being spent to help the business-friendly Seattle City Council candidates who were officially endorsed by CASE late last month. (Here's how candidates prostrated themselves to get that honor.) Which means those CASE endorsements are now paying off, literally.
Here's how the Chamber is spreading its PAC cash around:
Because of CASE's generous independent expenditures on behalf of these candidates, fundraising caps placed on candidates participating in Seattle's Democracy Vouchers program have been lifted in D1, D4, D6, and D7, according to Wayne Barnett, the Executive Director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Committee.
(Caps are lifted at the request of individual candidates when, in a given race, one candidate's total money raised, plus any independent expenditures made on that candidate's behalf, exceeds $75,000.)
Spending caps have been lifted in two other districts as well, but for reasons unrelated to CASE.
In D2, the cap was lifted because Ari Hoffman raised over $75,000 independently. And in D3, Council Member Kshama Sawant's personal fundraising exceeded the limit starting in April, leading to a cap lift there.
In D5, no candidate has reached $75,000 so the cap remains in effect.
What, exactly, is CASE doing with all these independent expenditures?
It varies from candidate to candidate, but based on the PAC's disclosures it seems CASE is focusing most of its energy on Orion (D3), Solomon (D2), and Tavel (D1).
CASE is distributing campaign literature to benefit the campaigns of Orion, Solomon, and Tavel at a total cost of $17,650. (The exact breakdown: Orion: $8,200; Solomon $4,900; Tavel: $4,550).
The PAC also is spending $210,250 on canvassing, and making calls and texts on their behalf. (Orion: $86,750; Solomon: $62,750; Tavel: $60,750).
In addition, all CASE-endorsed candidates will be benefitting from PAC-purchased mailers (total: $79,825).
With the Aug. 6 primaries fast approaching, the question now becomes: How will CASE spend the rest of its nearly $545,000?
And, is even more money going to be fed into the CASE cash machine by Seattle corporations?
CASE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.