In the last four months, SSA Marine and BNSF Railroad have funneled thousands of dollars into Whatcom Republican candidates. While digging through the PDC in September, I discovered a whole series of very troubling donations from those in the coal shipping industry to the Republican candidates for County Council and the port commission.
I've compiled this information into an infographic to help explain how this is possible. Click the image to make it bigger.
It works like this: SSA Marine (under the name Pacific International Terminal) donates $30,000 to the state Republican party. BNSF Railroad donates $10,000. The state party, of which local Republican Luanne Van Werven is the vice-chair, turns around and gives $3,000 to local Whatcom candidates directly and $15,000 to the county party - keeping a healthy profit of $22,000 for future election purposes.
The county Republicans then donate $8,800 of that money to the local candidates, keeping $6,200 for get out the vote operations on the candidate's behalf.
By funnelling the money through the state and county parties, SSA Marine and BSNF Railroad has ensured that their names do not appear on any of the candidates disclosure forms - but the money still gets where it needs to go.
This sort of earmarking is illegal if not properly declared as such. Local political science professor Todd Donovan has filed a PDC complaint, which you can read here.
Legalities aside, I just find it troubling to see this wave of coal shipping funds propping up our Republican candidates. It raises serious doubts about how impartial they will be on the issue of the Gateway Pacific Terminal.