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City of Seattle

Initiative Measure No. 122

The City of Seattle Initiative Measure Number 122 concerns public participation in government, including publicly-financed election campaigns, and lobbying.

If enacted, the measure would limit election campaign contributions from entities receiving City contracts totaling $250,000 or more, or from persons spending $5,000 or more for lobbying; require 24-hour reporting of electronic contributions; require paid signature gatherer identification; limit lobbying by former City officials; create a voluntary program for public campaign financing through $100 vouchers issued to registered voters funded by ten years of additional property taxes, with $3,000,000 (approximately $0.0194/$1000 assessed value) collected in 2016.

Should this measure be enacted into law?



Seattle Initiative Measure Number 122 (I-122) concerns public participation in government, sets limits on campaign fundraising and lobbying, changes reporting requirements, increases penalties, includes public financing for election campaigns, and authorizes the City Council to finance it by a property tax increase.

 I-122 creates Democracy Vouchers, four $25 vouchers given to each Seattle voter per city election, assignable to and redeemable by candidates who agree to particular campaign spending and contribution limits. The vouchers may be funded in part by a property levy raising a maximum of $30,000,000 over its ten-year duration. The 2016 levy is estimated to be 1.94 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Civil penalties for election law violations are increased from $10/day to $75/day and a $250-1000/day penalty is created for violations within 30 days before an election.

Currently, when reporting personal finances of candidates and their families, candidates need only state the income bracket. The current top income bracket is “above $25,000.” I-122 adds more brackets, making “above $5,000,000” the top income bracket. I-122 also requires reporting market value of stock and candidates’ estimated net worth.

Maximum campaign contributions are reduced from $700 to $500, adjusted periodically for inflation. Elected officials and candidates are prohibited from accepting or soliciting campaign contributions from anyone having at least $250,000 in contracts with the City in the last two years or who has paid at least $5,000 in the last 12 months to lobby the City. If technologically feasible, candidates are required to disclose electronic transfers into their accounts.

Compensated signature gatherers must display “PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER” on a sign, placard, or badge.

Elected officials and their top-paid aides/employees are prohibited from lobbying the City for pay for three years after leaving the office/position.

The full text of the initiative is found elsewhere in this pamphlet.

For questions about this measure, contact: Polly Grow, Seattle Ethics and Elections,

VOTE YES on I-122 Honest Elections Seattle!

Our government is supposed to be of, by, and for the people, but lately it seems that the wealthy and big corporate campaign donors are pushing regular people out of the process.

Nationwide, powerful special interests are spending record amounts to influence elections. Dark money contributions are eroding the power of our vote. The result: government and politicians are more beholden to big money interests than to we, the people.

I-122 keeps Seattle of, by and for the people. It ensures our elected officials will listen to all the people, not just their wealthy donors.

Endorsed by the League of Women Voters and progressive leaders

Signed by more than 30,000 Seattle voters, I-122 Honest Elections Seattle is strongly supported by progressive elected leaders, candidates, organizations and small businesses including: League of Women Voters of Seattle/King County, Planned Parenthood Votes NW, Public Citizen, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, One America Votes, Fuse Washington, Working Washington, King County Young Democrats and many more.

Vote Yes on I-122 to:

Limit corporate and wealthy interests’ influence on our elections

I-122 shines a light on dark money in our elections by restricting campaign donations from city contractors, regulated businesses, and their lobbyists, by speeding up disclosure of campaign donations, and by setting strict lower contributions limits.

Keep our elected officials honest

Wealthy special interests have too much power in Seattle. When these interests spend huge amounts of money on elections, that’s not free speech; that’s buying our candidates. I-122 makes it illegal for city officials to take lobbying jobs immediately after leaving office, and it requires them to fully disclose their assets to help identify possible conflicts of interest.

Increase participation in the democratic process

I-122 empowers everyday people to participate in the democratic process, encouraging more women, people of color, and young people to run for office without depending on special interest money.  It keeps elections in the hands of the voters, who can support candidates of their choice with four $25 democracy vouchers. This program is funded either through the general revenue fund or a small tax levy of about $8/year for a property worth $400,000. 

Increase transparency, accountability, and fines on rule breakers

I-122 tightens campaign reporting deadlines and establishes strict fines and penalties on those breaking election rules.

Keep Seattle of, by and for the people. Vote Yes on I-122!

Statements submitted by: Nick Licata, Pramila Jayapal, and
Estevan Munoz-Howard,

As two former Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission chairs and a former state Democratic Party chair, we know we need election reform. But Initiative 122 is the wrong approach.

The core of this measure rewrites Seattle’s election laws by increasing property taxes to distribute four $25 “democracy vouchers” to every registered voter. Voters are then supposed to donate these vouchers to candidates. But I-122 is so convoluted and untested – no other jurisdiction anywhere has implemented this system – that it creates a host of unintended consequences, introducing new loopholes that are ripe for abuse by special interests.


I-122 supposedly includes campaign spending limits, but is so poorly written that the limits are toothless. Candidates can raise the full amount of vouchers but then opt out of the spending limits if an independent expenditure campaign enters the race. This means candidates can double dip – taking taxpayer-funded vouchers while ALSO raising unlimited additional campaign cash. And I-122 hands out $41.5 million in vouchers for each election but only funds $3 million of vouchers per year – so in any election only a tiny fraction of voters can have their vouchers redeemed; others may turn in vouchers only to have them ignored. That’s not fair.


This measure will actually introduce corruption into Seattle elections. Distributing millions of paper “democracy vouchers” creates a system where unscrupulous people will inevitably sell vouchers under the table to campaigns. And I-122 actually increases the grip of special interests over politicians – well-funded special interests will direct their members and supporters how to spend their vouchers, steering hundreds of thousands of dollars to favored candidates, so politicians will have to defer to these interests even more than they do now. 


Our current campaign system sheds light on who is contributing for anyone to see. If I-122 passes, more contributions will be pushed into less transparent and accountable special interest independent expenditures, the opposite of what a reform measure should do.


Seattle has many serious challenges to deal with, from affordable housing to education, transportation, public safety and more. Raising property taxes to fund political campaigns when the city has so many other pressing priorities makes no sense.

I-122 will make our elections more corrupt and more easily manipulated by powerful interests. Please join us in voting NO on I-122.

Statements submitted by: Bob Mahon,
Michele Radosevich, and Dwight Pelz,

Don’t believe the scare tactics.

Former Seattle Ethics and Elections Commissioners (Lynne Iglitzen, Lorena Gonzalez), the League of Women Voters, Democrats and progressive leaders, and most Seattle City Council candidates support I-122.

I-122 shines a light on dark money influence by:


  • restricting campaign donations by city contractors, regulated businesses and their lobbyists;
  • speeding up disclosure of campaign contributions; and
  • empowering everyone to participate in the democratic process, not just the wealthiest few.

Big money interests, including lobbyists for payday lenders and Shell Oil interests, are behind the opposition to I-122, using the same scare tactics once used to oppose mail-in-ballots.

This initiative sets strong safeguards, limits and strict penalties to prevent abuse and fraud. It costs just $3 million/year, small enough to come from the general fund or the smallest levy in Seattle’s history. Learn more:

Vote YES on I-122. Keep Seattle of, by and for the people.

I-122 proponents may be well intentioned, but they don’t know much about how elections really work. There’s a reason Seattle elections experts are coming out against I-122 – the core of I-122 remains the deeply flawed “democracy vouchers” idea, which opens the door to a host of new abuses. Yes, our national elections need reform, but contrary to proponents’ claims we know that I-122 actually increases the power of special interests and vastly expands opportunities for corruption in local Seattle elections.

 This measure will undermine reform:

·      I-122 creates loopholes with democracy vouchers;

·      Pushes more money into less accountable independent expenditures, which I-122 does nothing to limit or reform;

·      Invites campaign shenanigans from already powerful special interests able to steer members’ voucher contributions;

·      Bars many minority-owned small businesses from participating in the political process.

Please join two former Seattle Ethics and Elections chairs in voting NO on I-122.

Simple majority (Seattle City Charter Art. IV, Sec. 1.F)

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