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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

PACs Face Quirk In Washington Law Before They Can Spend Money


California billionaire Tom Steyer is poised to help Democrats try to win back control of the Washington Senate.

But first, his political action committee, NextGen Climate, had to satisfy a quirk in the law.

Call it the 10-10 rule. In Washington, political committees have to jump a small hurdle before they can play in Washington’s political sandbox. The committee must receive $10 or more from at least 10 registered Washington voters.

Now that NextGen has this bit of local skin in the game, climate activist Tom Steyer is free to start spending some serious on Washington races.

Shannon Murphy, president of Washington Conservation Voters, is one of NextGen’s $10 donors.

“We’re happy to help NextGen set up their in-state political action committee,” she said.

Last year, Murphy said her organization teamed with NextGen on several Washington races. This year, she gave the $10 to a new NextGen PAC after getting an email request.

“In the end this is their organization, so you should talk to them about it,” Murphy said. “I’m supporting their mission by giving the $10 to them.”

The other $10 donors also appear to be employees of political or environmental organizations.

So far the PAC has reported no other contributions. However, NextGen has previously said Steyer plans to spend on behalf of Democratic candidates in three to four Washington state Senate races this year.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."