On Friday, at 4:56pm , Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court against Democrat Senator Sam Hunt (22nd Legislative District, Olympia) and his candidate’s authorized campaign committee for a variety of violations of Washington State’s campaign finance laws enshrined in RCW 42.17A (copy of complaint filed in court linked here). The lawsuit has three core claims:

  • Sam Hunt failed to timely and properly report debts and obligations/orders placed as those obligations were incurred (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235 & .240)
  • Sam Hunt failed to properly and timely report the value of the mailing list he obtained from the Washington State Democratic Party (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235 & .240)
  • Sam Hunt failed to timely report expenditures he made during the 2016 election campaign (again, Violation of RCW 42.17A.235 & .240)
Sam Hunt is unsure about the size of the inevitable fine which will be imposed by the AG

This lawsuit began with a complaint filed by this author on December 19, 2016 with the Public Disclosure Commission (see original PDC complaint linked here).  However, the origins of this campaign finance violation actually began even earlier.

During a hotly contested race for the Thurston County Commissioner seats, the Thurston County Democrats and their chosen candidates were expecting to cruise to a “coronation” since Democrats had dominated the Thurston County Commission as long as anyone could remember.  However, two independent candidates for these offices (soon to become Commissioner John Hutchings and Commissioner Gary Edwards) were still campaigning hard and some were starting to recognize this was going to be a serious race.  I participated in the campaign process with a micro PAC and some Robocalls, which upset the political establishment who preferred that political opposition remain silent and unheard.  This included Senator Sam Hunt, who gave me the original idea for the Robocalls in Thurston County due to his history of attack Robocalls in the past.  

Representative Sam Hunt had contacted the Olympian to complain about my Robocalls and to claim that I had violated a host of campaign laws.  Dueling Public Disclosure Complaints ensued.  My first complaint against Sam Hunt was pretty weak (linked here) and Representative Sam Hunt (soon to be Senator) wrote a letter to the PDC claiming that I was ignorant about campaign finance laws (linked here).  Sam Hunt was right.  I was ignorant.  So I resolved to educate myself – a process that appears likely to take many years, but which helped me file the complaint which led to the current lawsuit by the Attorney General’s office against Senator Hunt. 

Bob Ferguson is serious about campaign finance laws and appears eager to litigate

Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson campaigned last year, in part, on a platform of more rigorously enforcing Washington State’s campaign finance laws.  Some recent lawsuits Ferguson has filed include:

In Senator Hunt’s original letter he bragged about never having a PDC complaint filed against him in 24 years in public office.  That streak is now over (and wasn’t entirely accurate as was pointed out in the second complaint).  

Sam Hunt has inspired a greater interest in Campaign Finance Law

Eventually, Sam Hunt will pay a nominal fine plus some investigation and attorney fees to justify the bureaucracy’s efforts.  Attorney General Ferguson will do this with little fanfare.  Hunt’s future campaign paperwork will certainly improve and get a lot less sloppy.  However, this author owes a debt to Senator Sam Hunt for his willingness to point out my lack of education on campaign finance law and for encouraging me to become more educated in the process.  

This inspiration has created the opportunity to learn so much, and share this knowledge with the Attorney General’s office and the Public Disclosure Commission, which in turn has kept Attorney General Ferguson true to his campaign promise to more rigorously enforce the campaign finance laws.  In the end, Senator Sam Hunt’s penalties and fines will be a small price to pay if his mistakes and failures lead to the self-improvement of others.  Perhaps his errors will improve transparency and the campaign finance laws for everyone else.

_____________________________________________________________________

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

Recent Sam Hunt lawsuit and other pending complaints:

February 24, 2017 – Attorney General lawsuit against Senator Sam Hunt (Thurston Superior Court – 17-2-00849-34)

December 19, 2016 – Sam Hunt – original PDC  complaint #11378

November 22, 2016 – Sam Hunt – original response to first PDC complaint

October 22, 2016 – Sam Hunt – original PDC complaint #9205 (very weak)

February 24, 2017 – Attorney General lawsuit against Frank Chopp (Thurston Superior Court – #17-2-00847-34)

December 28, 2016 – Original PDC complaint (PDC Case #11338) filed against Frank Chopp 

Speaker Chopp response to Morgan Complaint (PDC Case 11388)

February 24, 2017 – Attorney General lawsuit against Kelsey Hulse (Thurston Superior Court – #17-2-00848-34)

February 3, 2017 – Attorney General lawsuit against Jay Manning (Thurston superior Court)

February 9, 2017 – Jay Manning Stipulation and Agreed Judgement (Thurston superior Court)

Complaint #12633 – Jay Manning – F1 and Illegal Lobbying complaint

Jay Manning skates away from transparency thanks public disclosure commission

Can political insiders violate campaign finance laws with no consequences?

AG press release about Jay Manning settlement

December 19, 2016 -AG lawsuit against Theresa Purcell (Thurston Superior Court #16-2-04959-34)

Direct link to the original complaint filed by AG against Jim Cooper

Copy of Complaint for Civil Penalties and for Injunctive Relief (State of Washington v. Jim Cooper) No #16-2-04960-34

Public Disclosure Commission – Case #8928 – report on investigation – December 16, 2016

Original complaint filed against Jim Cooper – PDC Case #8928 – filed October 17, 2016

PDC warning letter to Jim Cooper – Case #8928 – December 16, 2016

Background articles on Attorney General lawsuits:

Can political insiders violate campaign finance laws with no consequences?

AG Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against 19th District House Candidate

AG Files Campaign Finance Complaints Against Budget and Policy Center, Thurston County Candidate Jim Cooper

AGO Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against Secretary of State Kim Wyman

AGO Settles Kim Wyman Campaign Finance Complaint with $10,115 settlement

This Washington State official overseas elections, and now she’s paying campaign fines

AG:  Eyman and Committees Violated Campaign Accounting and Disclosure Laws

Washington State Attorney General’s press release about lawsuit filed against Jim Cooper

For More Background on this story (Thurston County Drama):

The Truth about Jim Cooper

How did the Democrats lose Thurston County?

County Commission Race Turns Ugly with PAC-funded Robocalls and Mailers

Last week it was a death threat – this week he is getting sued for election Robocalls

Man investigated for death threat told deputy he was “fed up” after robocall

Lawsuit filed against Property Rights Activist over Robocalls

Five candidates battle for Thurston Commissioner Seat, but who are they?

Thurston County goes independant – first time in state history

Thurston County Auditor bends rules to help Allen Miller (and Jim Cooper)

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Laws should be common sense and realistically able to comply with. Clearly, the state campaign laws are an example of bad law-making. Sam Hunt chaired the House Committee on Elections for many years, and Hunt is breaking the very laws that he oversaw and helped create! Gotta love the irony.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here