From the very beginning, former dental industry lobbyist Richard "Rick" Larsen's campaign for Congress was swamped with money. In his 2000 race, the then-member of the Snohomish County Council raised an impressive $1,577,963 ($2.37 million in 2019 dollars). While a majority—55%—of his contributions came from individual donors, almost half—45%—were maxed out. This suggests that his campaign's funding had always relied predominately upon the contributions from a few, powerful wealthy donors. For the last 20 years, a consortium of wealthy donors and business interests has kept Rick's campaigns afloat all while he never seriously challenged their power.
In their January 2001 report, Look Who's Not Coming to Washington, the Public Interest Research Group found that "the majority of  campaign contributions came from a small number of large donors and that many candidates couldn’t run or lost because of money". Up to that point, more money had been spent in the 2000 election than any other in American history. An unprecedented influx of wealthy donors pushed campaign finance laws to their limit, injecting $3 billion ($4.5 billion in 2019) into presidential and congressional races. "As fundraising continues to play a prominent role in American politics ," the PIRG warned, "it has begun to alter not only the legislative priorities of the country, but also the very people we elect as leaders".
Their warning was prescient. A decade later the Supreme Court handed down their disastrous Citizen United decision, opening up the campaign finance floodgates by permitting unlimited contributions via SuperPACs. Instead of receiving sacks of money from large donors, after the 2010 cycle, Rick followed the money and began siphoning millions of dollars from political action committees to fund his campaigns.
Since at least 2002, according to OpenSecrets, a plurality of Rick's campaign funding came from political action committees. Since 2008, a majority of Rick's campaign funding came from political action committees. Since 2012, a supermajority of Rick's campaign funding came from political action committees. Citizens United was a watershed moment for Rick's campaign finance strategy, a moment when his team decided to go all-in on getting cash from PACs and corporate donors. From 2010 to 2012, the share of campaign funding from PACs jumped 22% from 55.2% to over two-thirds—67.48%. Today, that share has steadily increased to a staggering three-fourths—75.45%.
Where does all this money come from? A kaleidoscope of corporate and PAC donors ranging from Koch Industries to the Association for Oil Pipelines. Over the years, Rick has cultivated a wide array of shadowy corporate and PAC donors who bankroll his campaign and influence his positions. In the coming weeks, we will be examining this collection of donors closer, and look at the sheer scale of corrupting corporate money that flows through Rick's campaign.
The Tech Overlords — Rick has received thousands from several tech companies, who have fought tooth and nail against white collar labor organizing, net neutrality regulations, and antitrust investigations.
The Fossil Fuel Guzzlers — Rick's committee appointments make him very influential with transportation policy, particularly aerospace. Unsurprisingly, transportation companies are a large segment of his campaign's corporate donors meant to keep him friendly to their bottom lines.
Featuring: Toyota, Rolls-Royce, Atlas Air, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Continental Air, JetBlue, United Airlines, Bombardier, Delta Airlines, BNSF Railways, Union Pacific Railways, Hawaiian Airlines, Airbus, Boeing, Embraer Aircraft, SSA Marine, Norfolk Southern, CSX Corporation, Airlines for America, National Air Transportation Association, Holland America, Overseas Shipholding Group, Brunswick Corporation, APL Limited.
The War Machine — A member of the House Armed Services Committee for his whole career, Rick gladly takes huge sums of money from companies that produce the munitions and killing machines shipped across the globe to America's endless wars.
Featuring: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE Systems, General Electric, Parsons Corporation, General Dynamics, United Technologies, Kaman Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Leidos Incorporated, Textron Incorporated (Bell Helicopters), Aerojet Rocketdyne, L3Harris Technologies, Oshkosh Corporation, SAIC Incorporated, Spectrum Group.
The Climate Criminals — A longtime backer of oil pipelines and expanding fossil fuel infrastructure, Rick rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel corporations contributing to the climate crisis.
Featuring: Exxon Mobil, Puget Sound Energy, Williams Companies, Entergy Corporation, Association of Oil Pipelines, Peabody Energy Corporation, Shell Oil, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association, BP Corporation, Enbridge Incorporated, Spectra Energy Corporation, NiSource Incorporated, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, El Paso Corporation, Pacific Gas & Electric, National Fuel Gas Company, Dominion Energy, Alliant Energy, Constellation Energy, Avista Energy, DTE Energy, Columbia Pipeline Group, Transcanada USA (TC Energy), Petroleum Marketers Association, Xcel Energy
The Healthcare Profiteers — Rick's campaigns have been given tens of thousands of dollars from for-profit healthcare companies, insurers, and pharmaceuticals all meant to keep him from challenging their power. It's paid off well, as Rick does not support Medicare for All or any other single payer healthcare system.
Featuring: Premera Blue Cross, Cerner Corporation, McKesson Corporation, Baxter Healthcare, Emergent Biosolutions, Pfizer Incorporated, Abbot Laboratories, Cambia Health Solutions (Regence Group), Glaxosmithkline, Pacificare Health, Regence Group, Medtronic Incorporated, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Triwest Healthcare, Merck & Company
The Wall Street Fraudsters — A centrist, Rick is never bashful about helping a bank in need. In return, his campaign receives tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the same criminals who brought down our economy in 2008.