Hansen way ahead in contributions
By RICHARD WALKER
North Kitsap Herald Editor
July 26, 2012 · Updated 4:47 PM
POULSBO — State House candidate James Olsen has consistently made an issue of contributions to Rep. Drew Hansen’s campaign by out-of-state lawyers, decrying the influence of “special interests” in the election.
“Special interests rob you and I of our voice,” Olsen said at a candidates forum July 16 at Poulsbo City Hall.
By comparison, Olsen said he’s received contributions from “salt of the earth, 23rd District people.”
Hansen far outpaces Olsen and Henning Larsen in campaign donations. As of mid-July, Hansen reported $161,034.08 in campaign contributions and $36,259 in campaign expenses. Olsen reported receiving $6,230 and Larsen reported less than $5,000.
Hansen is unapologetic, saying he’s blessed with a successful law practice with colleagues in other states who want to contribute to his campaign.
His individual contributors include professors, teachers, writers, and retirees; he’s also received contributions from unions representing inland boatmen, service workers, Teamsters and teachers.
Of the 143 lawyers that contributed to his campaign, 90 are lawyers with Susman Godfrey, of which Hansen is a partner. Susman Godfrey specializes in commercial litigation and has offices in Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and New York.
Hansen’s largest contribution was for $900 — there were 18 of those, from donors as diverse as the Teamsters, the Campaign for Tribal Self-Reliance, a colleague at his law firm, a teacher and a Los Angeles housewife.
Olsen reported contributions of $6,230 and expenses of $3,061. His largest contribution was $3,000 from the Kitsap County Republican Central Committee.
Larsen filed a form with the state stating that he would raise no more than $5,000. He said he has raised “a few thousand,” with most contributions ranging from $20 to $40. He received one contribution for $500, he said.
While Olsen said special interests can be “corrosive” in the political system, he’s not opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. The 2010 ruling held that the First Amendment prohibited government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.
At the July 16 forum, Hansen and Larsen said the ruling is unfair because it gives more speech to those who have more money.
“It was a disaster in practical terms,” Hansen said. “The Supreme Court took the wrong turn.”
Hansen, author of a best-selling book on the civil-rights movement, was appointed by the Kitsap County Commission to the state House last year after Christine Rolfes advanced to the state Senate.
Olsen is a retired Coast Guard captain and small-business owner.
Larsen, a political newcomer, is a poker room supervisor and tournament director at Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort.
All three candidates say they are able to reach across the aisle, work with others and reach compromise.
Olsen said he’s a consensus builder and knows how to work with people — skills honed in 30 years as a Coast Guard officer who had eight commands in his career.
Hansen said he sponsored legislation that had wide bipartisanship support. “I established a record in Olympia and I want to build on it,” he said.
Larsen said that if you put aside wedge issues, all legislators want the same thing: The best for their constituents. “If you want solutions, I’m going to work with you any way possible,” he said.
The two top vote-getters in the Aug. 7 primary advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Members of the state House serve two-year terms and receive $42,106 a year and benefits offered state employees.
Contact North Kitsap Herald Editor Richard Walker at email@example.com or 1-360-779-4464.