Last week, Public Eye exclusively reported on Montana public service commissioner Ken Toole's concerns about "undue" corporate influence at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region - a public-private partnership that encourages cooperation between provincial and state politicians. And it's easy to find the cause of Mr. Toole's concern. In fiscal 2006/07 corporate largess is only expected to make up 15.8 percent of the economic region's $1.2 million in revenue. But companies that contribute at the diamond ($50,000) or platinum ($35,000) get some extra perks.
According to the organization's Website, platinum sponsors are promised a "leadership role in the programmatic partnership of your choice" as well as an "invitation to participate" in capital city meetings with the economic region's political leaders.
Meanwhile, diamond donors - a newly introduced sponsorship level - will receive invitations to participate "in select events during the PNWER officer trips to Washington DC and Ottawa." And, at the organization's annual summit, there will be an "opportunity" for sponsor chief executive officers "to address conference participants."
Addressing concerns about those perks, the economic region's policy and communications director Neil Parekh said in a written statement, "There is no exclusivity involved" in the sponsorship program.
"Although we have private sector sponsors who are involved in helping to identify issues relevant to the region, it is important to note that representatives of other private sector organizations (non-sponsors, often in the same sector as sponsors) are equally involved in this process."
Moreover, Mr. Parekh says, "All of the sessions held at the Summit are on-the-record and media have full access to the delegates and speakers." The following is a complete copy of the economic region's 2007 sponsors.
Consulate General of Canada
Alaska Railroad Corporation
Holland America Line
Royal Celebrity Tours
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia
British Columbia Transmission Corporation
Canadian Centre for Energy Information
Idaho National Laboratory
Phillips Cruises and Tours
Puget Sound Energy
Vancouver Port Authority
Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta
Association of Washington Business
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Flint Hills Resources
Northwest Cruise Ship Association
Premera Blue Cross
Tesoro Companies, Inc.
Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc.
University of Lethbridge
Vancouver Coastal Health