Boeing made donations ahead of tax break offer

OLYMPIA — Boeing Co. campaign contributions to state lawmakers don’t usually draw much attention — until the checks are cut days before the Legislature votes to give the aerospace giant a huge tax break.

That’s what appears to be the case in a review of records filed earlier this month with the state Public Disclosure Commission which tracks political money in Washington.

Those documents show that Boeing gave the maximum donation of $900 to seven lawmakers, for a total of $6,300.

The firm reported making the donations Nov. 4, one day before Gov. Jay Inslee called a special session to approve tax incentives valued at nearly $9 billion in hopes of securing work on the company’s next generation 777X jetliner.

Six of the seven voted for the tax package which the House passed 75-11 and the Senate approved 42-2. The other lawmaker was excused at the time of the vote. None of the seven reported receiving the money until after the special session ended Nov. 9.

Boeing makes contributions to campaigns of lawmakers as well as mayors and county executives throughout the year, so the November donations didn’t surprise Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, or Rep. Marko Liias, D-Everett. Neither legislator received a donation.

“I think it’s at best a coincidence,” Liias said of the timing. “I think the policy choice we made was pretty clear from the outset. It wasn’t a case where the outcome was hanging in the balance.”

Snohomish County Executive John Lovick also received a contribution in November for his campaign next year. Lovick traveled to Olympia to testify on the bill and lobby for its passage during the three-day extra session.

He said he was motivated “by three simple words: jobs, jobs, jobs” and the Boeing contribution had nothing to do with his position.

This wasn’t Lovick’s first contribution from the company. He received $2,275 during his tenure as a state lawmaker but no donations when he ran for Snohomish County sheriff in 2007.

Boeing contributes to Washington state political campaigns with some regularity. It has given more than $3.1 million to political groups and campaigns since the late 1990s, according to commission records.

Documents filed in August contain three pages of contributions to lawmakers, including the leaders of each of the four caucuses in the Legislature. All the donations were reportedly made July 31.

Hobbs and Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, were listed as receiving $900 apiece for their respective re-election campaigns in 2014.

“I think they wrote me a check because they know I am a supporter of aerospace,” said Hobbs, who serves on the task force which advised Inslee on the tax incentives passed in the special session.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson also garnered one of those $900 contributions for his re-election this year, though it doesn’t appear in his campaign filings until Oct. 27. Stephanson, who ran unopposed this year, has received $4,950 from the company since 2005.

In its donations ahead of the special session, Boeing supported Republican Sens. John Braun, Sharon Brown and John Smith; Republican Reps. Norm Johnson, Charles Ross and Shelly Short; and Democratic Rep. Dave Upthegrove. Brown, Smith and Upthegrove had campaigns this year.

The lawmakers declined comment or didn’t return messages left with staff members. A Boeing official declined immediate comment.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Reporter Dan Catchpole and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

More in Herald Business Journal

Driving the Dodge Demon, the world’s fastest production car

Our test took place at US 131 Motorsports Park, on a fully prepped professional drag strip.

Mountlake Terrace-based 1st Security Bank wasn’t traded publicly during the recession, but it has seen a steady growth since the recession. (Jim Davis / HBJ)
How stocks in local banks fared since the recession

Every bank was hit hard during the recession, but most have bounced back in a big way.

A look at what some stores have planned for Black Friday

With unemployment low, stores are hoping customers are in a mood to shop.

Boeing bolsters team for potential 797 with leading engineer

Terry Beezhold has been chief project engineer for the 777X program.

Tom Hoban
Are millennials warming up to life in suburbia?

They dominate the apartment market and their wants need to be accounted for, says columnist Tom Hoban.

Camano artist mixes flask, paintings for successful cocktail

Art flasks prove popular as bachelorette gifts, birthday presents and wedding favors.

Katie Garrison
New agent joins Re/Max Elite’s office in Snohomish

Re/Max Elite welcomed a new agent to its Snohomish office. Katie Garrison… Continue reading

UW Bothell Pub Talk looks at Greenhouse Gas Mystery

The Greenhouse Gas Mystery is the topic for the next UW Bothell… Continue reading

EvergreenHealth Monroe pharmacy interns travel to Ghana

Earlier this year, University of Washington School of Pharmacy students and EvergreenHealth… Continue reading

Most Read