Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
August 17, 2015
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Photos: Sandy Fink
Program Coordinator: Brad Stark
          Stocking time: Volunteers are needed right after the Aug. 24 luncheon meeting to help stock school supplies at Holmes Elementary School, 2600 W. Sharp, said coordinator Melinda Keberle.  Rather than soliciting separate donations, the $2,000 in school supplies were paid for this year by proceeds from the successful spring fund-raising event.
          Kiwi time: Club member Chris Lynch said District 5080 hopes to send six couples, or pairs, of Rotarians to New Zealand for visits to various clubs there from Feb. 13-27, 2016.  Hosts will be needed for reciprocal visits from New Zealand Rotarians later in the year.  Those interested in hosting, or traveling, or both, should contact Chris or Bruce Ellwein.
          Banner Exchange with California Visitor  
No-wink solution sought for campaign financing
          Perhaps he will become known as Dave “wink-wink” Wilson.
          Wilson, who is contemplating a second run for Congress based on campaign finance reform, told the club Aug. 17 that the current financing programs contain a lot of winking at regulatory controls.
          Wilson ran in 2014 as an independent.  He finished third in a four-candidate primary field, with 15,400 votes, or 11.4 percent of the total.
          While an editorial in The Spokesman-Review said he was the best candidate to face incumbent Cathy McMorris-Rodgers in that general election, Wilson, a self-described “common sense centrist,” raised only about $20,000, compared with Cathy’s $1.3 million.  That disparity no doubt has heightened Wilson’s interest in campaign finance reform.
          Wilson, now 61, was founder and owner of Interface College, a computer training firm he sold in 2011.  The Shadle Park grad had attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and got a graduate degree in education from Gonzaga. 
          He was a district manager for Radio Shack prior to founding Interface, and now is a small-time hay farmer.  He and wife Linda have lived on Five Mile Prairie since 1980.
          Wilson said he has spent 53 nights this year talking to “regular voters” in the area.  Of those 740 people, he said, “99.9 percent are fed up with Congress.  One person was not sure and two others said they like gridlock because Congress gets less done.”
           Wilson told the club, “I believe the root problem is too much campaign money.”
           He said while Federal Election Commission rules limit individual donations to $2,700 each in the primary and general elections, “game changers” such as Super PACs and 501-C-4 organizations provide floods of money for some candidates, usually the incumbents.
          Wilson said “(GOP presidential hopeful) Jeb Bush’s Super PAC is the largest.  It was started a year ago – wink, wink – before his formal announcement.”   All within the rules, Wilson said.
          And, while Super PAC (political action committee) donors are listed, no such identification is required for donors to the 501-C-4 funds.  He said these “general welfare” funds, designed a century ago to help organizations like The Salvation Army, now channel millions to candidates.  Nominally these funds, sometimes called “dark money,” Wilson said, “must be -- wink-wink -- less than 50 percent political.”  But no one really checks, Wilson said.
          He laments that huge donations from a relatively few super-rich contributors are funneled to candidates who can pay campaign and staff costs with little scrutiny.  The gift-giving exploded after the Supreme Court in 2010 ruled in the Citizens United case that limiting contributions was like limiting free speech, he said.
          Wilson says that a constitutional amendment is needed to correct the imbalances of campaign financing, “so the courts and Congress can’t mess with it.”  Such an amendment, he said, “should limit contributions to individuals only – no PACs,
corporations, unions, no non-citizens and no anonymous organizations.”
          He adds: “The current political system is corrupt.  Trust is what we are missing.”
          But since a super-majority of Congressional approval is the first step toward ratifying a constitutional amendment, Wilson’s well-intentioned solution may be dead on arrival