Elections

Drew Hansen surpasses all others in campaign cash as primary nears

Although he has been in the state House of Representatives for a year, one man is about to face his first election.

But he need not worry about money. With $161,528 in his campaign coffers, Rep. Drew Hansen has more contributions than all of the other 23rd Legislative District candidates combined.

Hansen’s success in campaign fundraising has become an issue itself in this expensive legislative race. His Republican opponent James M. Olsen has taken aim at Hansen’s campaign, which he said is fueled by special interest contributions that are flowing into Hansen’s fund from out-of-state.

“This 23rd Legislative seat is not going to be bought,” Olsen said.

In this battle for the House Position 2 spot, Hansen, who was appointed to the seat in 2011, is facing not only Olsen but Democratic challenger Henning B. Larsen in the Primary Election.

As of late July, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission, Hansen’s war chest was more than 10 times larger than what Olsen has raised ($12,383) and what Larsen has brought in (“just over $2,000,” according to the candidate).

Candidates can amass donations in two ways: cash contributions, which are direct payments from groups or individuals to a candidate’s fund, and in-kind contributions, which are services provided to the campaign that have a cash value, such as consulting.

Hansen has garnered in-kind donations of more than $2,100, consisting mostly of consulting and polling, while Olsen and Larsen have not reported any in-kind donations.

Almost two-thirds of Hansen’s campaign cash is from out-of-state donors, with 5.64 percent of monies coming from Bainbridge Island.

One of the biggest reasons for the significant percentage of out-of-state donations stems from the contributions of Hansen’s legal colleagues, according to a review of records on file with the Public Disclosure Commission, the state’s watchdog agency on campaign financing.

Contributions from employees at the law firm Susman Godfrey, of which Hansen is a partner, make up almost

one-third of his total campaign funds at $52,850. The law firm has offices in Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles

and New York, which is why donations from its employees are pouring into his campaign from across the nation.

“I’ve been blessed with a very successful law practice,” Hansen said. “I have colleagues all across the country — Republicans, Democrats, independents — who respect my hard work and judgment to work across party lines to get results.”

While his fellow attorneys have provided a hefty lump of money in Hansen’s election fund, political action committees, or PACs, do not play as significant a role; they make up a little more than 3 percent of his campaign contributions.

Washington state law forbids state legislators from accepting campaign donations during the legislative session, so Hansen’s time to raise funds is limited.

Almost 41 percent of Hansen’s money was raised in November 2011, with more than $6,000 raised on Nov. 27 — the day before the extended session convened.

Despite the time constraints, Hansen appears to be having no trouble raising funds for his election bid.

Hansen, 39, was appointed to fill the vacant Position 2 seat one year ago, after then Rep. Christine Rolfes moved up to the Senate. A Bainbridge Island resident, he previously worked as the governor’s representative on the Community Economic Revitalization Board for six years. He also spent six years serving on the Olympic College Foundation board.

Compared with Hansen, Olsen is raking in the green from the Evergreen State.

More than 94 percent of donations come from within the state, and contributions from Bainbridge Island make up approximately 15 percent of Olsen’s total.

Olsen remains skeptical at the amount of out-of-state donations prevalent in Hansen’s campaign fund, and suggested that voters should investigate the contributions for themselves.

“I would strongly encourage all citizens to take a look at the PDC (Public Disclosure Commission) filings in this case for Mr. Hansen, (to see) if they find anything odd, disconcerting, troubling about the contributions,” Olsen said.

Olsen has not been the beneficiary of much in-state special interest money. He has received a donation from one PAC: the North Kitsap Republican Women, for $200. In-state PACs were more influential in his 2010 bid for the House, making up around 16 percent of his total funds.

In June, Olsen collected $6,735, more than half of the amount he has raised so far. Although his fundraising peaked later than Hansen’s, and although all of his money is designated for the primary, Olsen remains confident if he goes into the general election.

“There will be more money coming in,” he said. “God is good.”

Olsen, 62, spent 30 years in the Coast Guard, retiring as a captain. A Bainbridge Island resident, he previously ran for the same position against now Sen. Christine Rolfes in 2010.

Democratic challenger Henning B. Larsen has opted for “mini-reporting,” in which filers do not disclose detailed information about their finances to the PDC (although they do keep records) but are limited to the amount of money they can raise.

Larsen did not consider filing a “mini-report” until late in the game, and said that he found a grassroots campaign appealing.

“The more we thought about it, the more we fell in love with the idea of not spending more than $5,000,” he said.

“Originally I didn’t think I’d wind up spending that much,” Larsen said. “I shouldn’t need a ton of money to do this. It’s a campaign of ideas.”

Of the just over $2,000 he has raised, “100 percent” of it came from within the state, he said.

Larsen has not received any money from PACs, but his views on the role of out-of-state special interests differ from those of Olsen.

“I know Mr. Olsen has made quite a fuss over Mr. Hansen’s finances,” he said. “It’s something I’m not concerned about. I think it’s distracting.”

Larsen, 31, has spent the last eight years working as the poker tournament director at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino. He lives in Silverdale.

In the 23rd District’s Position 1 slot, Rep. Sherry Appleton, the Democratic incumbent, has raised $31,195 and leads Republican challenger Tony A. Stephens.

Stephens has raised $7,414.

With a goal of raising $100,000, Appleton still has far to go.

But she does not have to look far for financial support. Only two of Appleton’s contributions have come from out of the state — from Enterprise Holdings from Missouri, and Vigor Industrial in Oregon (the company that is building new ferries for Washington State Ferries).

Contributions have also poured in from PACs, from the Washington Fire Chiefs PAC to the Washington State Dental PAC. Political action committees compose almost one-third of Appleton’s contributions, down from 37.30 percent in 2010, according to charts summarizing her finances.

Appleton is also getting support from in-kind contributions, which make up a little more than $1,100, mostly from the Washington State Democrats.

Like Olsen’s later influx, Appleton’s highest grossing month was July, with more than $10,000 coming in. She too remains optimistic going into the General Election.

“I assume that we will just keep plugging along and that we will get there,” she said. “I have had a lot of very faithful, very loyal supporters over the years.”

Appleton, 59, was elected to the House in 2004, after having served two terms on the Poulsbo City Council, where she lives.

Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton appointed her to serve on the Washington State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Stephens does not believe he has received any out-of-state funds, nor have PACs made an influence in his election bid.

“I much prefer volunteers to money,” Stephens said. “I’m really not that interested in money.”

Like Olsen, to whom he donated $360 according to the PDC, Stephens is skeptical of out-of-state special interests.

“I do believe it would be very nice if only the people in North Kitsap County gave money to their Representative candidates,” he said.

He added that in his perfect world, contributions would be limited from donors who were not local voters.

Stephens, 50, is a former drill sergeant, having spent 20 years in the Army infantry. He worked at Northrop Grumman for a decade and has worked at Naval Base Kitsap. He lives in Poulsbo.

In the race for the state Senate, Rolfes, the Democratic incumbent, has $80,185 and is well ahead of her Republican opponent Bret A. Treadwell.

Nearly 90 percent of Rolfes’ campaign money comes from Washington state, with 26.97 percent from Bainbridge Island, the highest percentage from the island among the candidates for the 23rd Legislative district. She attributed this to the time she spent on the Bainbridge Island City Council.

“The people there tend to know me and trust the approach I take to public service and working with others,” Rolfes said.

The size of PAC contributions in the senator’s campaign fund varies according to different sources on the Public Disclosure Commission website. PACs make up roughly 38 percent of all cash contributions this election compared to about 5 percent two years ago, according to an overview on the website. However, a more in-depth analysis shows that PACs made up approximately 17 percent of cash contributions in 2010, and that the 5 percent cited by the PDC failed to include donations by such PACs as the Justice PAC and Architects PAC.

A separate analysis by Rolfes revealed negligible differences between her 2010 bid for the House and 2012 Senate race.

“The proportion of PAC contributions [is] about the same as this year’s,” Rolfes said.

Regardless of where the money comes from, when it comes is just as important to a candidate’s financing.

July was Rolfes’ peak month, when she brought in $19,865.

In-kind contributions comprise a little more than $1,100 in value, mostly for voter records provided by the Washington State Democrats and for food and staff time from Simply Bainbridge.

Rolfes, 45, was appointed to the Senate in 2011 after being elected to the state Legislature in 2006. She lives on Bainbridge Island.

Treadwell, 43, her challenger, has refrained from raising money or actively campaigning.

The Primary Election is Tuesday, Aug. 7. About half of the 146,351 registered voters in Kitsap County are expected to participate. As of Aug. 1, approximately 15 percent of ballots had been returned.

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