(The Center Square) – Washington Senate Democrats have more money riding in stocks than any other group in the state legislature and may pay the most under a proposed capital gains tax.
All 50 states have laws on the books allowing the public to peek at their elected leaders' pocketbooks to mitigate conflicts of interest and better guarantee public trust. Washington is no different.
Every legislative session, Washington lawmakers must file their financial affairs reports disclosing what assets they held over the past year as an elected official. These reports, known as F1 statements, are posted to the state Public Disclosure Commission online and cover the previous calendar year. The deadline to file is April 15. Final reports are also due when an official leaves office.
F1 statements encompass seven holdings—income, assets, real estate, lobbying, business associations, debt, and gifts valued at more than $50. Home addresses, account numbers, and exact values are all exempt from disclosure. Even rough estimates show which party in the Washington Legislature is the stockpicker's party.
How many Washington lawmakers own stock?
Based on an analysis of F1 statements by The Center Square, more members of the House own stocks than the Senate. In the House, 23 out of 98 members own stocks, or about 23% of the chamber. In the Senate, 21 out of 49 members own stocks, or roughly 43% of the chamber.
Blue chip stocks—tech, utilities, and transportation—make up the majority of the state legislature's stockholdings. Only state Representatives Dan Bronoske, D-Pierce County, a Pierce County firefighter, and Matt Boehnke, R-Kennewick, a veteran and college professor, got a taste of the Gamestop craze in January. Stocks make up a small portion of the assets state lawmakers claimed in 2020, which range from real estate to 401k plans. That's not counting legislative salaries, which started at $56,881 in 2020 plus $120 per diem.
The following totals stem from stocks only, not index or exchange traded funds.
Senate Democrats: $5.58 million to $8.99 million in stocks
In the Senate, 14 out of 29 Democrats own stocks, or about 48% of the senators with a D next to their name. That's more than any other single group in the state legislature. Together, Senate Democrats' portfolios are worth between $5.58 million and $8.99 million or more money than any other group in either chamber.
The two most powerful Senate Democrats who own stocks are state Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, a former journalist who chairs the Rules Committee and serves as Senate president pro tempore, and state Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, owner of the Spokane Indians Baseball Club and Senate Democratic majority leader.
The three richest stockholders in the Senate all happen to be Democrats. They are state Senators Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, a restaurant owner; Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, a King County deputy prosecutor; and Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, a former Apple marketing executive, whose joint stock portfolios with their loved ones are worth between $2.82 million and $3.54 million alone.
Senate Republicans: $780,000 to $2.06 million in stocks
As the minority in their chamber, Senate Republicans still lay claim to several stock portfolios. About 35% of Republicans in the chamber, or seven out of 20 of its members, own stocks worth between $780,000 and $2.06 million.
State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, is the top Republican in the chamber to have access to stock through her husband, whose portfolio is valued between $30,000 and $60,000.
The stock portfolio state Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, shares with her husband is the biggest in the Senate GOP. It's valued at between $200,000 to $500,000.
House Democrats: $5.26 million to $9.52 million in stocks
House Democrats have a taste for stocks too, or at least 16 out of 57 of them do. That number represents about 28% of the party in the chamber where their portfolios total between $5.26 million and $9.52 million combined.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, a former social worker and former staffer with the Seattle Office of Housing, is the top Democrat in the chamber to own stocks, which total under $180,000.
State Reps. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, former deputy mayor of Tacoma, Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, former mayor of Kirkland, and April Berg, D-Snohomish, a former Boeing program manager, boast the three biggest stock portfolios worth at least $2.87 million combined.
House Republicans: $780,000 to $2.87 million in stocks
About 14% of House Republicans own stock, or seven out of 41 members total whose portfolios are worth between $780,000 and $2.87 million all together.
State Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, a Navy veteran and investor, is the highest ranked member of the House GOP to own stock worth under $60,000. He also owns more than $120,000 more in stock with his wife in a joint account.
The three biggest stock portfolios are held by state Reps. Greg Gilday, R-Stanwood, an attorney, and Keith Goehner, R-Dryden, a former Clark County commissioner. Combined, their portfolios are worth between $510,000 and $1.47 million.
The Washington governorship
Gov. Jay Inslee, a former attorney, and the person first in line for his office boast two of the biggest stockholders in the state capitol. F1 statements show Inslee owns up to $360,000 in stock. Lt. Gov. Denny Heck, a former entrepreneur, owns between $1.6 million and $3.4 million in stock with his wife. Inslee and Heck earn annual salaries of $187,353 and $117,300 per year, respectively.
The costs of a capital gains tax
The numbers above show how many Democrats this session are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to passing a capital gains tax they say will help ease sales tax burdens on working class households. It would tax sales of $250,000 or more in stocks, bonds, and other assets at 7%.
The tax, which barely passed the Senate in March, drew "no" votes from four Senate Democrats, three of whom own stocks. They include state Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, whose stock portfolio totals more than $280,000. He is one of nine state senators who could potentially pay the tax as it is written now.
The capital gains tax heads to the House where it is expected to see a floor vote before state lawmakers adjourn on April 25.