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October 19, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Costco's $22 million sets record for initiative spending

Posted by Seattle Times staff

Costco Wholesale has dumped another $8.9 million into its liquor privatization initiative, bringing its total contributions to I-1183 to more than $22 million, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

That shatters a state record for the most money spent by a single donor on an initiative.

The previous record holder was the American Beverage Association, which last year contributed $16.7 million to support I-1107, a measure voters approved that repealed legislative tax increases on candy, gum, bottled water and soda pop.

Costco's initiative would get the state out of the liquor business and allow grocery stores to sell spirits.

The campaign opposing I-1183 has raised $11.7 million in cash and in-kind contributions, mostly from wine and liquor distributors.

Tuesday was the deadline for major contributions to initiatives. From now until Nov. 8 — the deadline for mailing in or dropping off ballots — no contributor can give more than $5,000 to an initiative. Campaigns can go in debt and ask donors after the election to help them pay it off.

The Public Disclosure Commission website says Costco's latest donation was made Monday.

Last year, Costco contributed $4.8 million to the campaign for I-1100, which also sought to privatize the state’s liquor business and deregulate the system in a way that alcohol distributors don’t like. That initiative was rejected by voters.

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