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May 31, 2012 at 9:32 AM

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Follow the political money to Ramgen, not Ramada

WASHINGTON -- While my colleague, Justin Mayo, and I were reporting on the flow of money from special-interest groups to U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, we came across a curious donation: a $500 contribution from Jarlath Hume, an executive with Artic.

Except we couldn't find a company called Artic. And Hume actually works for Ramgen Power Systems, a private technology company in Bellevue.

Further poking showed why it's tough sometimes to track money in politics thoroughly. Since 1997, Hume has given more than $50,000 to various federal candidates and political committees under seven different employers' names.

That's not counting the various permutations of employers' spelling, such as Techna Pacific Corp. being listed as Tectwa, Techron and Techna-Pacific.

Hume blamed sloppy bookkeeping by the campaigns and his own oversight for the inconsistencies. In 2010, for example, Federal Election Commission records show Hume donated to Sen. Patty Murray under Global Power Services, to Sen. Maria Cantwell under Ramgen and to Smith under Artic.

Hume, Ramgen's vice president for government relations since 2008, said he also holds a position with Global Power, a small energy-technology company.

"Neither I nor anyone else received any benefit, that can think of, from one company being down as a reference point instead of another" on the contribution reports, Hume said.

Campaigns are responsible for collecting information about donors' occupations, addresses and other basic facts.

As for how Artic came to be listed as his employer, Hume said, ""I have no idea how it happened. That error got into the Smith campaign database apparently in 1998 and never got corrected."

Hume isn't the only Ramgen executive with a muddled donation record. Ramgen Chief Executive Douglas Jewett has given some $45,000 to federal candidates since 1999. But Murray's campaign sometimes has listed Jewett as CEO of Ramada.

Jewett said he had no explanation for the error other than that "the first three letters fit with Ramgen."

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Campaign contributions to state races

This table shows campaign contributions to each gubernatorial candidate. Click here for more info on other races.


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