Politics (or money) Makes Strange Bedfellows

Word on the street is that the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is inking a deal with Los Angeles based PCI Consultants headed by Angelo Paparella in order to get the paid signatures necessary to get their gun purchaser background check initiative in front of the Washington State legislature next year.

Sounds interesting so far.

What’s more interesting is sources, who wish to remain anonymous, added another twist to this: that Paparella’s firm doesn’t really do the work.  He in turn farms the work out to another signature gathering firm headed by John Michael, who has had a slew of DBA’s that he has worked under here in Washington state, who in turn is planning on farming the work out to Citizen Solutions, the erstwhile signature gathering firm that handles all of Tim Eyman’s work on those perennial 2/3rd’s tax attack initiatives – that have now gone down in ignominy and ill repute.

But the tale may not end there.  Our sources say that some in the Alliance are up in arms and put off with the idea that they, the Alliance, by extension are working with Eyman.  They may be saving money, bundling the two sets of initaitives saves money for both campaigns, but Eyman is the guy who has targeted the pet social justice and environmental projects and causes that they champion.

This is also the same territory, and companies and individuals, upon which the State’s enforcement resources have been focused on for their past practices in the signature gathering business – the co-mingling of funds by these circulator firms and an initiative sponsor, using one campaign’s funds to subsidize another’s.

Is trouble in progressive paradise brewing?

The other rub – the Alliance is chock full of proponets who are loud and proud in their stance that workers should receive living wages, labor protections, and humane working conditions, but through their signature gathering firm associations they are likely promoting less than pretty but prevalent practices in that industry.

Signature gatherers are regularly making less than minimum wage, petition managers take the lion’s share of the fee paid to them by initiative sponsors, and there are no benefits for circulators, definitely no health insurance, and many times not even workers compensation or unemployment insurance.

This is an industry that is crying out for reform and regulation.  Unfortunately the current situation looks like that campaigns will continue working with companies that engage in a lot of questionable practices.

Until campaigns become more interested in engaging firms with a record of providing humane and responsible employment practices we’ll see more of this thing with them taking on these hired guns that treat the help like cheap signature scalpers.

For all the money flowing into the background check campaign, for all the rich and redoubtable members of the campaign that champion human dignity and justice, it seems a bit ironic that they would relegate those that will provide them with the success they want, the individual signature gatherer, to such below dignity wages and working conditions.


Filed in: City of Seattle, Environment Tags: 

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