Big money is pouring into the Port of Vancouver commissioner race from backers of a proposed oil terminal.
On Monday, state election filings showed Vancouver Energy has put an additional $150,000 into the race. It's the largest single contribution made to any candidate running for office in the state of Washington this cycle.
It is the second large donation from Vancouver Energy made to candidate Kris Greene, who has publicly supported the terminal project. Last month, the company gave $75,000 to Greene’s campaign and has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on the race so far.
Vancouver Energy’s contribution bumps Greene’s campaign chest to about $279,000. According to filings on Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission website, Vancouver Energy has raised more than 80 percent of those funds.
“We agree with many others that Kris Greene is the best candidate with the right experience to help lead the Port,” wrote Jeff Hymas, spokesman for Vancouver Energy, in an emailed statement. “His focus on creating jobs and growing Vancouver’s economy while ensuring safety and sustainability offers a balanced approach that benefits the Port District and the entire community.”
The $210 million Vancouver Energy terminal, backed by Tesoro-Savage, would receive about four crude oil trains a day. The oil would be stored on site and later transferred to ships on the Columbia River. At full capacity, as many as 360,000 barrels of crude oil would pass through the terminal daily.
Critics of the terminal say the company’s contributions are a last-ditch effort to secure the fate of the proposed oil terminal in Vancouver.
“Frankly it’s insulting to the people in this city that Tesoro thinks they can simply buy this election,” said Shannon Murphy, president of the Washington Conservation Voters, a Seattle-based group that opposes the terminal and has endorsed Greene’s opponent, Don Orange.
“Kris Greene just proved he is bought and paid for by an out-of-state oil company, and they know exactly what they’re getting for their money,” added Murphy.
Greene did not return requests for comment.
Greene’s opponent Don Orange is staunchly opposed to the oil terminal and has committed to not accepting any donations from oil companies. He said Greene’s decision to take money from Vancouver Energy “absolutely pollutes politics.”
“I think he’s absolutely bought and paid for,” Orange said. “If this works, and they’re able to buy a Port commissioner this way, it will change politics on this end of the state forever.”
Unlike other local races, there is no campaign contribution limit for the Port of Vancouver election.
In 2006, Washington lawmakers passed a law that sets campaign limits on larger port districts with more than 200,000 registered voters, like Tacoma and Seattle. That law does not apply in Vancouver’s Port district, which has 178,344 registered voters.