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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."

From Advertising To Nail Care, Washington Campaigns Spend Bucks


Political campaigns and committees in Washington have spent nearly $70 million so far this year. That includes statewide initiatives and legislative races.

So where’s all the money going? It’s everything from address labels to Zipcar rentals.

The single biggest category of spending this year is campaigns contributing to other campaigns. Political money has a tendency to move around a lot before it actually gets spent on something tangible.

TV advertising is the number two spending category. And somebody has got to come up with those ads, so political consultants are another top recipient of campaign funds.

But sometimes it’s the little stuff that’s the most interesting. One state representative billed his campaign for childcare. Another candidate spent $18 in campaign funds to get her nails done before a fundraiser. And then there’s the campaign that had to fork over $12 for damage to a sensor caused while out doorbelling a voter.

Spending like this is allowed as long as it’s campaign-related and properly disclosed to Washington’s campaign watchdog agency.

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."