Politics Reuven Carlyle’s Big-Biz Donors
posted by October 22 at 13:04 PMon
Is Reuven Carlyle, one of two Democrats seeking the open state house seat from the 36th legislative district, really a Republican in disguise? Supporters of his opponent, John Burbank, have been pushing that theory for a while—sending out color-coded emails, for example, implying that Carlyle’s record is “red” while Burbank’s is “blue” and calling Carlyle “the candidate of the banking industry” and “big business.” Carlyle, in response, has protested that his business background (he made his money in the wireless industry) doesn’t make him a conservative or a shill for big corporations.
Still, it’s Carlyle, not Burbank, that big corporations have thrown their weight (and money) behind. Earlier this month, the Realtors Quality of Life PAC—the political arm of the Washington Association of Realtors—did a $15,000 independent expenditure on Carlyle’s behalf. Most of that money paid for cable TV ads—an unusual move in a low-profile race like the 36th. And last week, another business-oriented PAC—“People for Jobs,” which is wholly funded by the conservative group Enterprise Washington—spent an undisclosed amount on Carlyle’s behalf.
The Realtors’ PAC donates to and spends money on behalf of both parties, but their expenditures skew heavily toward Republicans. This year, for example, the group has donated to or done independent expenditures for Democrats (including Carlyle’s $15,000) worth $36,600, according to disclosure reports; Republicans, including Dino Rossi, have received $210,000 from the group. Contributors to Enterprise Washington, meanwhile, include Weyerhaeuser, the Restaurant Association, the Master Builders of America, Safeco, Bank of America, Chevron, Premera Blue Cross, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Phillip Morris, the Retail Action Council, and the Washington Food Industry Association.
The Realtors’ PAC didn’t return my call, but Enterprise Washington president Erin McCallum did. When I asked her why the group was supporting Carlyle, she said, “Itís very clear to us that of the two candidates that came through, he is the one who would, if elected, go to Olympia with an understanding of private-sector issues and what the private sector means to the Washington State economy. … Reuvenís experience demonstrates that he will go down to Olympia and have the ability to think critically of legislation that could impact eveyroneís livelihoods in this state.” Officially, Enterprise Washington is “nonpartisan”; in reality, the group is supporting just four candidates in Washington State this year: Carlyle and three Republicans. Unfortunately, searching for anything on the PDC’s web site right now sends you to the dreaded “Error Path” (but thanks for the zillion-dollar upgrade, guys!) so I can’t give you exact numbers, but suffice it to say that Enterprise Washington is spending in the upper tens of thousands on each candidate’s behalf. On its web site, the group defines labor unions and “environmental groups” as “the competition.”
Carlyle claimed both expenditures came as a complete surprise—the Realtors’ expenditure showed up on PDC reports last week, and Carlyle said he didn’t know about the Enterprise Washington expenditure until I told him about it yesterday. “I literally have not had a conversation with [the Realtors] other than [the endorsement] process,” Carlyle said. Asked why the Realtors’ PAC might be supporting him, Carlyle said, “my platform has been driven by my central priority, quality of life, and they were responsive to that. … Homes donít sell if there aren’t jobs.”
As for the allegations that he’s not really a Democrat, Carlyle responded: “I am a passionate, progressive, lifelong Democrat. My capable opponent has not attacked me on one single policy issue. His entire pitch is guilt by association— the insinuation that you canít be a progressive Democrat and be pro-economic growth, pro-jobs, and pro-strong economy.”