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.
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
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.
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.
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.
OUR CONSTITUTION BEGINS WITH THE PHRASE “WE THE PEOPLE.” IT WAS THE FOUNDER’S INTENT THAT GOVERNMENT BE CREATED BY THE PEOPLE, TO SERVE THE PEOPLE. IT WASN’T THEIR INTENTION FOR THE PEOPLE TO SERVE THE GOVERNMENT. IT WAS ALWAYS INTENDED THAT GOVERNMENT WHICH FAILED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE “ALTERED OR ABOLISHED.” UNTIL WE RETURN TO THE FOUNDER’S INTENT, WE REMAIN WE THE GOVERNED…
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