Update: Jhoanna Jones posted an additional $1000 contribution from the Realtors’ PAC on Oct. 18.
The Washington Realtors Political Action Committee (PAC) has poured $31,000 into one candidate’s race for Richland City Council Position One. The realtors’ large amount of spending has attracted state-wide attention.
A significant amount of council business involves zoning and building.
Jhoanna Jones has received $31,000 in donations from the realtors. Her almost $42,000 in donations makes hers the most expensive race ever for a Richland City Council seat that has a base pay of around $15,000 a year.
On her financial disclosure forms submitted to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) in June, Jones reported that she was a broker with Options Commercial Mortgage and works as a commercial lender with the Small Business Administration.
According to Jones Oct. 11, PDC report, the realtors made a $1000 donation and a $30,000 independent expenditure. Some of the realtors’ large, glossy fliers are already arriving in Richland mailboxes
On their most recent 2021 PDC report, the realtors’ PAC reports collecting $2,338,552.83 and spending $791,560,67.
While individuals can only contribute $1000 an election, PAC independent expenditures are unlimited because they are considered free speech. The PDC describes an independent expenditure as “paid for by someone other than the candidate who undertakes advertising without collaborating with the candidate or the candidate’s agent.”
Jones’ Oct. 11 report showed that she contributed $7328.36 to her own campaign and collected $3,774.34 from other donors.
Jones’ opponent, Chaune’ Fitzgerald, a small business owner on The Parkway in Richland, reported $14,548 in contributions. Of that about $2400 came from Fitzgerald.
While $30,000 is the largest independent expenditure made in a Richland City Council race, it isn’t the first one made on behalf of a Richland candidate. In 2017, the realtors’ PAC donated $17,300 in contributions and independent expenditures to another first-time candidate, Michael Alvarez, for his successful bid for a city council seat. Alvarez is also a mortgage broker.
Alvarez has received a $1000 donation from the realtors for his 2021 re-election campaign.
Ballots have been mailed and the election is Nov. 2.
(Disclosure: The Observer personally donated $50 to Fitzgerald. The Observer is also a member of the board of the National Women’s Political Caucus – WA which contributed $750 to Fitzgerald.)