Papers Donated to Political Group Against Washington State Estate Tax

By: E&P Staff

Several Washington state newspapers have come under harsh criticism for their monetary contributions to committees fighting for the repeal of the state?s estate tax, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Initiative 920 (I 920) calls for the repeal of the estate tax, which taxes large estates (with the exclusion of $2 million) would fund Washington public education, reported the Intelligencer. Many businesses and newspapers have come out in support of I 920.

According to the Post-Intelligencer, The Wenatchee (Wash.) World and Seattle-based Pioneer Newspapers — owner of the Skagit Valley (Wash.) Herald, the Daily Record in Ellensburg, Wash., and several other newspapers in the Northwest — each made donations of $25,000 to yes-on-I 920 coalition; The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., contributed $5,000; and the vice president of public affairs for The Seattle Times, Jill Mackie, made a donation of $1,000.

The article noted that the Columbian, the Seattle Times, Pioneer Newspapers, and the Wenatchee World are all family-owned businesses. Critics have said that these contributions are in the name of self-interest, reported the Post-Intelligencer.

Most critics, said the paper, are concerned that this type of monetary contribution will effect the papers? abilities to maintain objectivity in coverage of I 920. Some are concerned that the papers are not making these types of contributions well known to their readers. In response, said the Post-Intelligencer, the newspapers deny that their contributions will lead to any unethical behavior.

Coalitions both for and against I 920 have raised over $2 million dollars, with large businesses making donations on both sides of the debate. According to the Post-Intelligencer article, newspapers have had a long history of fighting against the estate tax, at both the state and federal levels, including lobbying and running advertisements against the tax in the late 1990s.

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