Influencing the City Council Elections: follow the money…from outside Sammamish

By Miki Mullor

Outside money is flowing to Sammamish city council elections at prodigious rates as ballots arrive at mailboxes this week. 

  • “Livable Sammamish,” former Mayor Don Gerend’s Political Action Committee, got additional $19,000 from the Town Center developer, for a total of $44,000.
  • McKnight raise less than 3% of her funds from Sammamish donors and self funding $11,000 of her $26,000 budget.
  • Sixty percent of Indapure’s donors and 69% of the cash contributions are from outside Sammamish.
  • Malchow and Ken Gamblin raise over 90% from Sammamish donors.
  • Karen McKnight, Rituja Indapure and Christie Malchow each crossed the $10,000 mark.
  • UPDATE: WA Realtors PAC spend $11,500 to promote McKnight

PAC wars: developers vs. residents

With more funding this week, developer-backed Livable Sammamish is neck to neck with the residents-backed Sammamish Life PAC.

This week, Livable Sammamish PAC reported additional $19,000 in funding from a co-developer of the Town Center developer. 

A PAC (Political Action Committee) is allowed to accept unlimite,d uncapped contributions and is allowed to spend unlimited amounts on campaign promotions.

PDC records show 95% of funding for “Liveable Sammamish” PAC comes from R.D. Merrill Company, a Seattle holding company that owns Pillar Properties, which in May announced a joint venture with Innovation Realty/STCA to develop phase 1 of the Town Center

These are the only donors to Livable Sammamish, as of Oct 16’s. PDC filing date.

Livable Sammamish backs Indapure, McKnight and Karen Howe.

WA Realtors PAC spent $11,500 on a mailer promoting McKnight.

Facing Livable Sammamish is Sammamish Life,a PAC headed by Sammamish resident Michael Scoles.  As of this week, Sammamish Life” raised $40,504 from 28 Sammamish residents, staying true to Scoles’ promise to not take outside money.  

The two top donors for Sammamish Life are longtime Sammamish residents Wally Pereya, the city’s leading environmentalist, and Harry Shedd, who contributed $25,000 and $10,000 respectively.  

Sammamish Life backs Malchow, Gamblin and Kent Treen.

Campaigns summary 

The Sammamish Comment summarized PDC campaign finance data as of Oct. 16 in the following table.  

How to read the data:

  • Total budget: the total amount of cash available to a campaign.
  • Total raised: total amount of cash raised from third parties, excluding a candidate’s own contribution.
  • $ Local: what amount of cash came from Sammamish sources.
  • % Local:  what percentage of cash came from Sammamish sources.
  • Donors: the total number of donors.
  • % Local (Donors): the percent of donors from Sammamish. 

The ability to raise money is a measure of support for a candidate. The ability to raise money locally is a measure of support from the community.  

Outside money 

The glaring difference between the candidates is  that Malchow and Gamblin stayed away from outside money, while Indapure, McKnight, Howe and Treen raised the majority of their funds from outside Sammamish. 

Karen McKnight

McKnight raised only 3% of her money, less than $1,000, from Sammamish donors. 

While Indapure also raised most of her money from outside Sammamish (69%), in pure dollar amounts, $11,101 local dollars, she raised the second highest local amount of all other candidates, equal in number of local donors to Malchow’s (70 vs. 67 local donors).

Malchow raised the most money from local donors, $13,300 from 67 local donors, compared to all other candidates.  Malchow also stayed away from outside money, with 98% of her funds coming from Sammamish. 

Interestingly, Howe, who touts herself as the President of Sammamish Friends, a local non- profit, raised only $2,061, or 24%, from Sammamish–about two thirds of her newcomer opponent, Treen.  

With $7,787 total raise, Howe is also at a far distance from the $15,254 she raised for her failed 2017 City Council race. Howe also ran earlier this year for the King Conservation District Board of Supervisors–and failed.

Total money raised 

Rituja Indapure

As in her failed 2017 City Council bid, Indapure again has a breakout fundraising with $35,507 raised, a 7:1 ratio to her opponent, Gamblin, who raised $4,750.  In 2017, Indapure raised $29,667, only to lose the race to now-Council Member Chris Ross, who raised $5,786 back then, a 5:1 ratio. 

In second place is McKnight, with a total of $26,169 – of which about $11,000 is her own money. 

While all candidates contribute their own money (at a range of $1,000-$2,000 per candidate), McKnight’s self-funding is distinct.   McKnight raised less than $850 locally, a paltry 3% of the total money she raised for her campaign.

Treen, Gamblin and Howe all have sub-$10,000 budgets. Other than Ross, the winners at the 2017 races all had over $10,000 budgets.

With two weeks to go before the election, mailers and advertising funded by outside interest groups, PACs or partisan parties is expected.

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8 thoughts on “Influencing the City Council Elections: follow the money…from outside Sammamish

  1. Vote for Malchow, Treen and Gamblin, instead of the other developer schils – unless you love high rise apartments sprouting up like weeds, and sitting in traffic.

  2. This is so important for the voters to know. Thank you, Miki, for all the diligence on your part. I only hope the voters pay attention this time around.

  3. Thanks for making it easy to follow the money trail! This is a local nonpartisan election, and all donations to Kent Treen’s campaign have come from family and friends. He has not received, nor will he accept, donations from outside developers or partisan groups.

  4. Damn! Seems odd to me that the basic issue here is that we have a group of people who want to further develop the Plateau. Why would they want to do so unless it was to their financial advantage?.

    Then we have an opposing force that for whatever reason – and there are plenty given, most of which I agree. But then I’m an old retiree who has little to gain either way, unless the decline in quality of life (IMHO) is negatively affected.

    It appears to me that money has a way of influencing people so I worry our once beautiful plateau is about to become yet another east-side neighborhood, like, say, Lake Hills,if the “land barons” have their way.

    Now, as an old pensioner kind of fellow, If either argument lowers my property taxes, provides me with a safer environment and quits installing flashing stop signs and provides a better valuation of one neighborhood over another – I’m not going to ride the RTA so why do I have to pay for it.?

    So… where to I send my check? An endorsed Social Security check to be sure, but I need it to go to the group who will allow me to spend a few more years in a life of comfort and beauty and not into the pockets of those who simply want to become more wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

    Maybe I should consider moving on to one of the reservations and spending my money at the casinos. The return on the gaming machines would seem to be better than what I’d get by giving it to the politicians.

    I’m really pissed off. Just not sure who I need to direct my displeasure – or money.

  5. Pingback: Top 10 2019 Stories in Sammamish | Sammamish Comment

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