Latino Businesses Caught In Between ‘No’ And ‘Yes’ Campaigns Of Washington Carbon Tax Measure
Some Washington Latino-owned businesses say they were wrongly put on a list that claimed they were against I-1631, a state ballot initiative seeking to tax carbon emissions.
Mario Fuentes at Mary’s Boutique in Yakima, says he was shocked to find out his business was listed on the “No on 1631” website. In Spanish, he says:
“En ningún movemento aprove al no a esa iniciativa. No entiendo porque aparece no.”
“At no point did I approve a ‘no’ on that initiative. I don’t understand why it says I said no.”
Fuentes says he’s actually in favor of 1631. He says he and his wife recently mailed in their ballots in support of the fee on carbon emissions.
The Latino Community Fund of Washington is a non-profit advocacy group. They believe Mary’s Boutique and other Latino-owned businesses in the state are wrongly on that list.
On Tuesday morning, the Latino Community Fund and the environmental advocacy group Front and Centered led a press conference with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, State Senator Rebecca Saldaña, and affected Latino business owners.
After verifying with business owners, the organizations realized many were either in favor of 1631 or did not know their business was on a list claiming they opposed the initiative.
Dana Bieber is a spokesperson for the “No on 1631” campaign.
“Each and every business owner there has signed a consent form saying we could use their name on a mailer and they were joining the ‘No on 1631’ coalition,” Bieber said.
Bieber provided copies of consent forms for Mario Fuentes, the owner of Mary’s Boutique, a taco truck in Pasco and another in Wapato.
While the consent form for Fuentes is for an individual rather than a business, it is one with Mario Fuentes’ name and contact information.
Fuentes says he doesn’t remember signing the form. He also couldn’t recall anyone coming in to his shop canvassing in late September, when the consent form is dated.
The “No on I-1631” campaign is funded by the Western States Petroleum Association. The campaign is considered one of the most expensive efforts against an initiative in the state, and according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, has $31 million in backing.
The ‘Yes’ campaign has raised about $14.8 million to date, with top contributions coming from The Nature Conservancy, League of Conservation Voters, and $1 million each from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
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