Facts about fishing in Washington — and fishing for votes

  • By Scott North
  • Friday, September 16, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

If you are new to these parts, welcome to the best time of the year. September skies are usually sunny, the evenings crisp. And in the rivers, the salmon return to spawn in significant numbers.

There are five species of Pacific salmon to be found around here: chinook, coho, chum, sockeye and pink.

Pinks are the smallest and also the most numerous salmon. This year’s pink run on the Snohomish River is expected to top 1.3 million fish. More than 650,000 fish are expected back on the nearby Stillaguamish River.

The salmon already are here in sufficient quantity to create an equally impressive migration of anglers to nearby river banks and beaches.

Part of the catch is cash that helps fuel the local economy, experts say.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife calculates that fishing, hunting and wildlife watching bring in about $4.5 billion a year to Washington’s economy.

About 40 percent of the people who call Washington home engage in those activities. More than 45,000 jobs statewide are involved.

The state estimates that 14,000 workers are connected to commercial fisheries that annually bring in an estimated $1.6 billion a year.

Recreational fisheries, meanwhile, now employ nearly as many people and add an estimated $1.1 billion to the economy, the state estimates.

• • •

Now on to a different type of fishing — for votes.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics on Sept. 6 released a detailed analysis of independent spending in Washington elections between 2006 and 2010.

Independent campaign spending involves the use of cut outs — political action committees or similar organizations — that provide funders a measure of cover in trying to influence election outcomes.

Direct spending on state election campaigns still dominates, totaling nearly $258 million between 2006 and 2010, the researchers found. During the same period, however, more than $41 million found its way into campaigns through independent channels.

The report identifies the organizations and people who are most responsible. It also calls attention to instances of independent campaign spending run amok. The Moxie Media mess is one of the examples cited. That’s where a political consultant in 2010 allegedly cooked up a false-flag campaign. She allegedly set up shell political action committees that threw money from unions and progressive groups behind a conservative Republican in an effort of bring down moderate former Sen. Jean Berkey, D-Everett. The election was won by Nick Harper, a fellow Democrat whose more liberal stance was more in line with the funders.

The institute found that nearly two thirds of the more than $525,000 spent on that race was independent spending, and more than half of that was aimed at opposing Berkey.

The state attorney general’s office has brought a lawsuit against Moxie Media’s owner on behalf of the state Public Disclosure Commission. The trial is scheduled for early 2012.

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