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September 20, 2010 at 10:28 AM

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Ballmer and Bezos opposing income tax initiative I-1098

Posted by Andrew Garber

Two of the state's richest men, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, have each contributed $100,000 to the Defeat I-1098 campaign.

Initiative 1098 would create a 5 percent tax rate on annual income exceeding $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples, and a 9 percent tax rate on income that tops $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples. It also would cut state property taxes by 20 percent and newly exempt 118,000 businesses from the state business and occupation tax.

Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, said he'll file a report with the state Public Disclosure Commission today showing those contributions and many others worth more than $1 million. That would bring the total amount of money raised by the campaign to around $3.5 million.

Proponents of the measure, Yes on 1098, have raised about $3.6 million so far, according to state reports and their campaign. The campaign has some large individual contributions of it's own, including $200,000 from Ann Wyckoff, the granddaughter of Paccar founder William Pigott; $250,000 from Nicolas Hanauer, a partner at Second Avenue Partners, and $500,000 from Bill Gates Sr.

But much of the yes campaign's money has come from labor groups, including about $1.2 million from the Service Employees International Union and $100,000 each from the Washington Education Association and the Washington Federation of State Employees.

There's a certain symmetry to the Ballmer contribution, given that he's the CEO of Microsoft. Bill Gates Sr., the father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates Jr., helped write the income tax initiative and is the public face of the proposal.

Microsoft as a company has been silent on the initiative, although the Washington Roundtable, which represents executives from large corporations, including Microsoft, opposes the measure.

The contributions by Ballmer, Bezos and others "says that they've reached the same conclusion that many others have, which is this is really bad for the economy and really bad for job creation," Mullin said.

Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for yes campaign, said he wasn't surprised by the contributions. "We've known for some time that some of the state's wealthiest people, who would pay more under I-1098, are opposing it for that reason," he said.

Other top new contributors to the Defeat I-1098 campaign, according to Mullin, include:

  • Barry and Ginger Ackerley - $100,000

  • Osbourne Construction - $100,000

  • Bartell Drugs - $50,000

  • Greg Gorder - $50,000

  • Michael O'Brien - $50,000

  • Russell Investments - $50,000

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
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Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
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Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
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Bob Young
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