Dollar Donors: Money talks in politics, but how about a single buck?



Posted on May 16, 2012 at 10:57 PM

When John Dobmeyer decided to send a political contribution to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, he didn't have to think much about how much to send.

"I sent him a dollar, no more, no less. That's all," Dobmeyer said.

The retired sheet metal worker is what you might call a "dollar donor."  State campaign finance records show he's one of about 40 people who have sent McKenna exactly one dollar.

"I almost put in a hundred pennies into the envelope instead, but I decided I'd have to pay extra postage for that," Dobmeyer said.

In this age of Super PACs and $35,800-a-couple fundraisers, these dollar donors don't get much attention. But each has a story behind their contribution.

Dobmeyer is a pro-choice gun owner. He said he supports McKenna on those two issues.

"If I could talk to McKenna, I'd say here's a dollar," Dobmeyer said. "And I know you can't get a glass of beer for that, but go down and get a beer and think of stuff that you're saying."

Dobmeyer said he believes if all six million people in Washington state were to contribute a dollar, that'd be plenty to go around for all politicians.

Another dollar donor is Kevin Christian of Des Moines, a retired airline sales representative who's concerned about illegal voting. He wants McKenna to crack down, so he wrote a note and actually glued a dollar to the page so someone would have to look at it.

"It's not the money. If I thought $10 was going to get his attention, I would have sent $10," Christian said.

And then there's Dena Klinger, a retired teacher who sent Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee a dollar because she wanted to stay on his mailing list. She spent another 45 cents on a stamp, but said, "I sort of ignored that."

For campaigns, these dollar donations often end of costing money by the time the donation is processed, the paperwork is filed with authorities and more direct mail is sent out soliciting bigger contributions.

Christian said he might donate more in the future, but Dobmeyer won't budge.  He said a dollar is what he gives to candidates as well as charities like Easter Seals and veterans groups. 

Klinger said a dollar is what fit in her budget at the time; she said she may send Inslee a bigger donation when she can. 

"Since I'm a former journalism teacher, I'd like to hope he would spend it on advertising," Klinger said.