Recent Washington State Attorney General employee Walter Smith believed it was “unfair” that he was forced to sue so many Democratic politicians and Democratic Political Committees for violating the state’s campaign finance laws.  He worked at the AG’s office believing he would be spending all his time suing Republicans like Secretary of State Kim Wyman and longtime initiative activist Tim Eyman.  To Smith, it wasn’t fair that Democratic politicians and political committees were expected to follow the same law as the Republicans.  So, he quit in a bit of a fit.  He is now suing Republicans for the Washington State Democratic Party instead.  

State AG Bob Ferguson (right) coordinated with Walter Smith to take point on litigations in the Campaign Finance Division. Smith was happy to pursue Tim Eyman, but felt it was “unfair” to sue Democrats

Maybe Mr. Smith wasn’t paying attention to Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson who campaigned for his re-election in 2016 in part on getting tough on campaign finance law violations.  It could be that Mr. Smith didn’t believe Ferguson was honest.  Or perhaps, he cynically believed that the law should only be applied to one party.  After all, it is common belief by many in Washington State that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.  

It just isn’t fair to sue Democrats

Walter Smith felt it was unfair to sue Democrats for breaking the law.

When interviewed by the Tacoma News Tribune, Mr. Smith explained his actions as “fairness.”  Some have even speculated that he coordinated his departure with Bob Ferguson.  Others have speculated that Mr. Smith’s abrupt departure was coordinated with the State Democratic Party or with Democrat Party donors like cult leader JZ Knight. Regardless, Mr. Smith’s admission of hyper partisanship while working at the state’s Attorney General office raises serious public policy questions and a variety of ethical concerns about the work he did while there.  

Walter Smith’s actions are raising ethical questions about whether he misused public resources.

Did Mr. Smith fully prosecute the cases he was assigned against Democrats with the same vigor and aggressiveness that he displayed while prosecuting Republican Kim Wyman or Tim Eyman?  Mr. Smith pursued an unemployed cobbler and a retired judge in Grant County who are being charged by the AG for $454,000 for the grievous crime of spending $3,900 on an anonymous flyer against a local prosecutor candidate four years ago.  Did he show the same level of righteous rigor when pursuing the Spokane County Democrats for egregious violations including deceptively hiding funds used to pay their Executive Director, or failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions and expenditures? Based on his own comments, the obvious answer is “No.”

Additionally, a question raised by Mr. Smith’s behavior is the likelihood that he misused state resources to personally benefit himself while collecting a public paycheck.  The open collusion of his hyper-partisan actions with the State Democratic Party (and possibly party donors like cult leader JZ Knight) logically leads to a very necessary forensic audit and ethics investigation into how long he was both working for the State Democratic Party and collecting a paycheck from the State of Washington.  A records request has been filed with the Attorney General’s office, but most observers believe this information will be suppressed or buried.


Mr. Smith wanted to expose Democratic Party whistleblowers  

I only met Mr. Smith on one occasion.  A few months ago, in an effort to facilitate one of the AG’s campaign finance investigations, I met one of his co-workers in the lobby to provide additional evidence of hidden money and provide various bank account numbers.  Mr. Smith tagged along for the quiet lobby meeting.  However, unlike his co-worker, he didn’t care about the facts – he wanted to know which Democrats inside the party were giving me insider information.  He wanted to know how many I was working with.  Were they party committee members?  This was his priority.  I refused to divulge any identities to him and he was visibly irritated and annoyed.  It was a strange conversation at the time, and I couldn’t understand why the identities of Democrat whistleblowers was so important.  The facts I was providing would assist in their investigation and the AG could subpoena the bank statements and other documents to verify that my facts were correct.  How I obtained the information was not germane to the investigation at this stage.

It is obvious now that Walter Smith only wanted whistleblower identities so that he could blow their covers to the Democratic Party and the whistleblowers could be silenced.  This should trouble many people, not just Republicans or whistleblowers.  It is also odd and more than a little weird that he changed his purported career path simply in revenge against this author’s efforts to expose the problems with Washington State’s campaign finance laws.

How many more Walter Smiths work in Washington State government agencies?

If the people can’t trust the public employees who work at the Attorney General’s office to fairly administer the law and treat everyone equally, then we have a serious problem in our state.  To quote one of my Democrat friends who discussed this issue with me:

“ It’s disturbing, because it implies that the AG’s lawyers resent being required to do their jobs.  How many other public bureaucrats resist doing what they’re supposed to do because they see it as a threat to their own narrow authority?  and how can we be confident they’re doing the job we’re paying them for?”

Those are good questions, and we are unlikely to hear any answers.

It could be that Walter Smith just wants to prove every Republican conspiracy theory true.  Perhaps the Republicans are correct and hyper partisanship infuses the AG’s office and elsewhere in State Government. Many people already believe the rules are not applied equally to all, and now Mr. Smith provides another example of why people feel this is true.

In the meantime, it seems likely that Mr. Smith’s actions will help provide this author with further evidence on why our state’s campaign finance laws need reform.



Background articles:

Tacoma News Tribune – “Is Olympia lawyer the Democrats’ champion in complaint-filing war?”

Inlander – April 13, 2017 – “Dems in Disarray”

August 18, 2017 – AGO settles Campaign Finance Complaint against Representative Strom Peterson for a settlement of $11,950.  Peterson pays $7, 595 with the rest deferred.Note- this was sent out as a tweet on August 21, 2017 in lieu of a press release

August 15, 2017 – AGO files Campaign Finance Complaint against Pierce County Democrats

August 2, 2017 – AGO Files Campaign Finance Complaint against Washington & North Idaho District Council of Laborers PAC

July 14, 2017 – AGO files campaign finance complaint against Kittitas County Democrats

June 29, 2017 – AGO files campaign finance complaint against San Juan County Democrats

June 23, 2017 – AG’s Office demands documents be disclosed in campaign finance case

June 19, 2017 – AG files campaign finance complaint against Eastside Democratic Dinner Committee

May 12, 2017 – AGO Files Campaign finance complaint against King County Democratic Central Committee

May 12, 2017 – AGO Files Campaign finance complaint against Spokane County Democratic Central Committee, Two Committee Officers

April 10, 2017 – AGO files Campaign Finance Complaints Against State Lawmakers, Former Candidate

March 14, 2017 – Chopp to pay $6469 over Campaign Finance Allegations

March 14, 2017 – AG files Campaign Finance Complaints against Senator Hunt and Thurston County Democrats

February 13, 2017 – EWU Trustee (Jay Manning), Audubon Washington to pay penalties, costs in separate campaign finance cases

December 19, 2016 – AG Files Campaign Finance Complaint against 19th District House Candidate (Theresa Purcell)

December 19, 2016 – AG files Campaign Finance Complaints against Budget and Policy Center, Thurston County Candidate (Jim Cooper)


    • I’m not sure there is anything he has done that would justify a citizens arrest. It does appear that he violated the state’s ethics rules for public employees, and it is looking more likely that that Ferguson was involved in this situation as well, which really raises some significant ethics questions for him, but that probably needs to be hashed out in a different way. It will be interesting.

  1. Two things.

    (1) Bravo to you, Glen, for protecting the whistleblowers’ identities. It’s nice to know that people in desperate situations can trust someone to keep his word.

    (2) I hope that you (or someone concerned) files an ethics complaint against Mr. Smith. This deserves serious investigation.

  2. This is not the same Mr. Smith goes to Washington that I grew up with now is it.
    “ It’s disturbing, because it implies that the AG’s lawyers resent being required to do their jobs. How many other public bureaucrats resist doing what they’re supposed to do because they see it as a threat to their own narrow authority? and how can we be confident they’re doing the job we’re paying them for?”
    We can’t, welcome to our world. I would have to answer the how many question with, a majority, and it is worse than that, there are I am sure quite a few honest, hard working employees of the government that are afraid to speak up out of fear of retribution from the majority of the rest, (ala your whistle blowers and what Mr. Smith would like to do to them).

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