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Lobbyists Amass At Fundraiser For Key Washington State Leaders

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files
The Washington Capitol building in Olympia.

Lobbyists play a key role in political fundraising. Just consider the invitation to a fundraiser Wednesday night for the Speaker and the Majority Leader of the Washington state House.

More than three dozen lobbyists are listed as hosts and sponsors for this fundraiser for Speaker of the House Frank Chopp and House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan. Both are Democrats trying to hang onto a narrow House majority, but the lobbyists represent a diverse set of interests: business, labor, the environment, even legal marijuana.

"It’s an opportunity to meet people, there’s no question about that," said Majority Leader Sullivan, who, along with the House speaker, is up for re-election this year.

Sullivan insists that lobbyists, and their clients who help fund his campaign, don’t get special consideration.

"When it comes to legislation, when it comes to work down in Olympia, I don’t have a list that I look at to determine who I meet with," he said.

In Washington, lobbyists may contribute directly to candidates and deliver checks on behalf of their clients. However, there are disclosure requirements and contribution limits.

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."