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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."

Political Action Committees Pack A Punch In Washington Campaigns

The Washington Education Association has taken in $1.5 million this year, making it the head of the pack when it comes to money raised by political action committees.

You can group these top PACs by business, labor and environmental interests. On the business front there’s Enterprise Washington and its related People for Jobs PAC. Major contributors include the insurance, energy and timber industry. They’re likely to help Republicans try to retain control of the Washington Senate.

Washington Realtors also make the top 10 with their PAC. They’re giving to both parties, but their big checks favor Republicans.

Labor organizations like the teacher’s union, SEIU and the State Labor Council are spending big to help Democrats try to re-take control of the state Senate. The environmental PACs also want to elect Democrats who will help Governor Jay Inslee advance his climate agenda.

The big environmental players are California billionaire Tom Steyer. He’s put $1M into his Washington PAC. And Washington Conservation Voters.

So far this year political action committees in Washington report raising a total of $20 million. To date they’ve spent about half that.

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."