Supporters Of Failed Spokane Oil And Coal Train Measure Blame 'Goliath' Spending From Opponents

Nov 8, 2017

An initiative that would have fined rail cars carrying uncovered coal and certain kinds of oil through the heart of Spokane failed Tuesday night. Opponents of the measure said voters were concerned about the local economy, while supporters said they were simply outspent.

Supporters of Proposition 2 call theirs a “David and Goliath struggle.” According to Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, the group in favor of Proposition 2, Safer Spokane, raised just over $7,000.

But the Committee to Protect Spokane’s Economy, which opposed the measure, raised more than a quarter million dollars, with the largest contribution - $75,000 - coming from railway company, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe. Lighthouse Resources, a Utah-based coal company, gave nearly $65,000. 

Supporters of the measure said they are considering moving forward with a statewide initiative or raising the issue with the legislature. 

A spokesman for the opposition said railway shipments should only be regulated at the federal level, in order to avoid a "hodgepodge" of local laws “that impede interstate commerce.” 

All but about $800 of contributions made to the Safer Spokane campaign were spent on social media advertising, website design, and printing costs for yard signs and fliers. The largest contribution, $2,350, came from the group’s own treasurer.

At least one complaint was filed against Safer Spokane citing multiple failures to publicly disclose contributions and expenditures. The group said they simply lacked experience when it came to Washington’s public disclosure requirements.

Most of the opposition’s expenditures included social media and television advertising, direct mailing costs and legal expenses.

Copyright Northwest News Network 2017