Corporate cash can buy elections

November 18, 2012 

As of Nov. 13, according to Public Disclosure Commission filings, Puget Sound Energy total outlays to its super PAC, Alliance to Protect Thurston Power – amounted to $588,877. An additional $35,000 was donated by five other groups, four of them regional investor-owned utilities. Thurston Public Power Initiative received more than 100 contributions from individuals, almost all from living, breathing, actual human beings. Total contributions were less than $40,000. $620,000 vs. $40,000: do the math. The PSE camp had more than 15 times more cash on hand. That doesn’t include other spending on promotions, such as light bulbs, refrigerators and the “We Serve Thurston County” feel-good campaign.

Less than $1 was spent for each vote for public power, compared to more than $15 for each vote to support PSE’s high-priced monopoly electrical service. Given the spending discrepancy, Proposition 1’s 40 percent “yes” vote was excellent. On a level playing field, PSE would not stand a chance against the public interest. That’s why PSE resorted to a massive and unprecedented dump of campaign spending, serving to misinform voters, spreading fear and confusion. PSE has been charging the state’s highest rates — yet has one of the worst reliability ratings. Public electrical utilities have lower rates (especially for businesses) and better reliability ratings. They also tend to employ more people per customer than private companies. Thurston County would be better served by an electric utility owned by its customers and dedicated to customer service. Please support public power, and don’t give up!

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