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Copyright © 1998 The Seattle Times Company
Local News : Thursday, June 25, 1998

Campaign reform gets unlikely help
Seattle Times staff

Supposedly they are two of the most conservative politicians Washington state voters have ever sent to Congress, but you certainly can't tell these days on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Reps. Jack Metcalf, R-Whidbey Island, and Linda Smith, R-Hazel Dell, have begun crossing their GOP bosses lately to side with Democrats and liberal groups such as Common Cause in support of major changes in campaign fund-raising laws.

Last week, Metcalf and Smith both voted against what was widely seen as an attempt to torpedo the campaign-finance-reform legislation pending in Congress. The amendment would have thrown out the entire law if a judge found any part of it unconstitutional.

Smith and Metcalf said they plan to join Democrats again to oppose any other "killer" amendments to the reform legislation, known in Congress as the "Shays-Meehan" bill after its prime sponsors. It would ban unlimited party donations called "soft money" and restrict political advertising by independent third parties such as special-interest groups.

Reform groups such as Common Cause are counting on the votes of renegade Republicans such as Metcalf and Smith to pass the Shays-Meehan bill next month, said the Common Cause spokesman Jeff Cronin. How laws are made

"We are policy-oriented in this office. I fly out to Seattle on Friday and I'll fly back (to the nation's capital) on Monday, and I'll read The New York Times, and I'll rip a column out of The Times, and I'll say, `We've got to do something about that!' " - Sen. Slade Gorton, R- Wash., quoted in a profile in the current issue of Insight Magazine. S'long, Sumeer Sumeer Singla, the state Democratic Party's affable, easygoing spokesman, is moving on after just six months. Singla leaves his job today and heads east to Washington, D.C., where on July 6 he becomes Sen. Patty Murray's deputy press secretary.

He will be subbing for Murray's spokesman, Rex Carney, who goes on temporary leave next month to join her re-election campaign. Whether Murray wins or loses, Singla's job is set to expire when Carney returns after the election, though he says he hopes to stay on permanently. Top donors

Who's giving money to our elected officials? A nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., has assembled campaign-contribution data according to where individual donors work. By broad job classification, here are the top two contributing groups to each member of the state congressional delegation:

-- Rep. Rick White, R-Bainbridge Island: 1) insurance; 2) securities/investment.

-- Metcalf: 1) transportation unions; 2) air carriers.

-- Smith: 1) retired; 2) timber.

-- Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle: 1) public-employee unions; 2) commercial banks.

-- Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Bellevue: 1) insurance; 2) retired.

-- Rep. Adam Smith, D-Kent: 1) industrial unions; 2) public-employee unions.

-- Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton: 1) defense aerospace; 2) defense electronics.

-- Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco: 1) crop production; 2) general contractors.

-- Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane: 1) defense aerospace; 2) health professionals.

-- Murray: 1) retired; 2) lawyers/law firms.

-- Gorton: 1) retired; 2) timber.

Source: Center for Responsive Politics. Contributions were made from Jan. 1, 1997, to March 31, 1998. The category "retired" is the group of all contributors who answered "retired" when asked to name their occupation.

Inside Politics is written by The Seattle Times politics staff and compiled by Times Washington Bureau reporter Danny Westneat. His phone-message number is 206-464-2772. His e-mail address is

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