The great goat raid -Thurston County experiences emergency goat seizure

Wednesday afternoon in Thurston County, Washington, the Thurston County Sheriff’s office made an emergency goat raid on Lattin’s Cider Mill to seize 17 (or maybe 18?) goats.  Led by Thurston County Deputy Nastansky (a self-described “goat expert”) the sheriff’s office directed “volunteers” from Hoofed Animal Rescue (a local “non-profit” – a registered 501c3 which has been accused of financially rewarding itself and its volunteers by charging “storage” costs to hold onto seized animals) to take an undetermined number of goats from the farm.  Perfect timing for a nasty article in the local paper and for the next fundraising letter.  This was just the beginning of the great goat seizure fiasco.  

The justification for this crisis emergency raid late in the day was a semi-anonymous tip that “animal cruelty” was occurring on this iconic farm visited by hundreds of families and children almost every day of the year.  Deputy Nastansky refused to show the search warrant to the many people who demanded to see the document until after the invading goat herders captured and seized the goats, and she also failed to correctly count how many goats they seized – only realizing several days later that they grabbed an extra goat along the way.  The “goat expert” Deputy Nastansky was unconcerned that the volunteers were removing nursing mothers from their babies. This creates a serious problem when the nursing babies won’t take a bottle and their lives are put at risk – not that Animal Hoofed Rescue or Thurston County Deputy Nastansky seemed to care.  The original search warrant is posted at the bottom of this article – referencing a Thurston County Code that doesn’t exist in their published codes (no Title 7 to be found).

Lattin’s Cider Mill sells a variety of local farm products on site as well as their homemade breads, donuts, and their own cider.

In interviews I conducted with staff and owners of the Lattin’s Cider Mill farm, it appeared the farm owners had been treating their goat herd for hoof rot, which is a common condition for most goats in Thurston County due in part to the wet soil and this year in particular because of the record rainfall.  They rotate the goats between seven different pastures, and had been managing their goats following vet’s directions just like they had done for decades.  This is not unusual, nor is it “cruel.” If someone believed it could be done better, perhaps something less drastic than seizing the animals as a first step could be considered.  

Lattin’s Cider Mill Farm has been a major part of Thurston County rural life since 1976

Lattin’s Cider Mill – Thurston County Tourist attraction and icon

Long before “Agritourism” became a word, the Lattin family had opened their farm to swarms of local residents, school children, and others to pick pumpkins, offer Easter Egg hunts, throw apples to cows, feed farm animals, eat their homemade cider donuts, and pet the goats.  I’ve brought my kids here for many years.  It is considered one of the most popular, and iconic, rural farm businesses in Thurston County, and since 1976 hundreds of thousands of people have visited.  Many adults who spent afternoons visiting this farm as kids, now take their children to visit as well.

Many nursing baby goats were left behind after Thurston County seized their mothers

Anyone who has ever raised farm animals knows that sometimes they get sick or they might need to be treated for various ailments.  A responsibility that comes with owning animals is to keep those same animals healthy, fed, sheltered, and protected from predators.  When something happens to them, an owner has a moral obligation to try to help them recover.  A small, local farm operation like Lattin’s cider mill hires employees to do most of the day-to-day farm plan operations and many local vets have put their kids through college treating and visiting the animals on Lattin’s Cider Mill Farm.  It defies common sense that “animal cruelty” was a legitimate justification for the emergency afternoon raid by the Thurston County Sheriff’s office.

Hoofed Animal Rescue – a nice facade with a nasty history

Washington State law (RCW 16.52.085) allows local law enforcement to seize animals that are abandoned or abused.  There are many heartbreaking stories of animals in these terrible conditions seized from deplorable environments.  Cat hoarders, puppy-mills, or people down on their luck – the stories strike a chord in all of us.  However, this law is being abused in Washington State by organizations who seek to benefit from this statute.  Specifically, the law (RCW 16.52.020) allows local law enforcement to designate monopolistic contracts with local “humane societies” who are empowered to collect money from government funded court judgements imposed on animal owners for caring for seized animals.  Additionally, the law creates loopholes where these organizations can seize desired animals and profit from the sale of those animals, sometimes for slaughter.  These organizations and their members can also claim immunity from prosecution for the abuses they inflict on people or animals (RCW 15.52.085(10)).  

This nursing baby goat won’t take a bottle and could die because Hoofed Animal Rescue took its mom. This is real animal cruelty.

In Thurston County – Hoofed Animal Rescue made waves and gained attention a few years ago for seizing animals for profit and for the personal benefit of some of it’s members.  There were multiple stories of this organization targeting and selecting elderly rural residents who owned horses from whom they believed they could seize the animals (with a uniformed officer on site), sometimes without warrants or any tangible proof of harm.  Frequently, they were seizing expensive livestock for personal profit.  The victims of their abuse were terrified and threatened by “animal cruelty” accusations and nasty press releases accusing them of abusing their pets.  In part, these abuses led to the formation of the Washington State Livestock Coalition in 2009 so that abusive organizations like Hoofed Animal Rescue could be confronted.    Nick Cockrell, president explained the history to me, “The Coalition was formed in 2009 to address confiscation of animals, with the approval of the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, in what appeared to be bogus or unsubstantiated neglect.  In one instance, a 10 year-old dachshund was confiscated for excess tartar on its teeth.  At the same location, Hooved Animal volunteers pointed to a feed trough (with holes for drainage) as an example of not providing adequate water for the livestock.  I don’t know if the folks didn’t understand the difference or were trying to intentionally mislead others, but I think it was a combination of the two.”

Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza

After the election of Sheriff John Snaza in 2010, and with the cooperation of the Thurston County Farm Bureau, negotiations occurred between all parties to develop a more rational and predictable process where these abuses could be prevented with checks and balances and procedures to ensure that real veterinarians were involved in the process which would avoid most of this confusion.  Hopefully, this would ensure that only genuine cases of abuse and neglect would be addressed.  This seemed to restore sanity and balance.  I’m concerned the bad old days of Hoofed Animal Rescue are back and Thurston County Deputy Nastansky could be throwing fuel on the fire with abrasive tactics.  Maybe she was misled.  Maybe it was a misunderstanding.  Nobody doubts this isn’t an easy job.  Whatever the reason, there are some real problems that need to be addressed here. 

Kathy Bailey, president of Hooved Animal Services, serves as staff in the Joint Animal Services (Thurston County, Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater).  In 2016, she was paid $44,908 as assistant director.  Is her status as president of Hooved Animal Rescue considered a conflict of interest since Hooved Animal Rescue receives support from Thurston County?

When I spoke to Nick Cockrell, President of the Washington State Livestock Coalition, he explained, “In the past, the Livestock Coalition has worked cooperatively with the Sheriff’s Office in providing assistance in lieu of animals being seized or removed.  In one particular case, Coalition volunteers monitored equine feeding protocol and care issues over a several month period.  Reports were sent periodically to document care provided by the owner, as proscribed by the deputy.  However, following disposition of that case, the deputy was reassigned and the Sheriff’s Office no longer requested our assistance.”  It seems that Thurston County has decided that rather than working with animal owners to find solutions – if there even are any problems – they prefer to seize property, rather than solve problems.

Restoring Common Sense to the Thurston County Sheriff’s office and this process for the future

Several aspects of Wednesday’s goat seizures from Lattin’s Cider Mill should be addressed.  They are as follows:

Thurston County Judge Carol Murphy approved the “emergency” search warrant over the phone
  • The emergency “telephonic” search warrant issued by Thurston County Judge Carol Murphy might be legal, but the policy behind it is certainly questionable in cases like this.  This type of search warrant was intended for emergency situations like a felony vehicle stop where the officers believed a body might be in the trunk of a parked car.  Under what possible justification would a search warrant need to be rushed out like a 5-alarm fire emergency for some goats actively being cared for by paid staff and seen by hundreds of people every day?  It is likely the judges in Thurston County as well as the Thurston County sheriff’s office need to review processes and procedures for exactly what counts as an “emergency” for these types of warrants.  Was Judge Murphy provided true information or was she deceived in order to issue the “emergency” warrant?  It seems likely that we can come up with more rational policy here.

 

  • Thurston County Deputy Nastansky should remember
    Officer Nastansky may be good at bringing coffee to Thurston dispatch, but the emergency goat seizure she directed was very questionable. (photo source: Facebook)

    why she became a law enforcement officer in the first place. Theoretically, it was to help people.  The recent abuse she directed at Lattin’s Cider Mill Farm appears to have harmed the very animals she claims to protect.  Had the people from Hoofed Animal Rescue or Deputy Nastansky actually known what they were doing – they would not have removed nursing mothers from their babies.  THAT action is the only clear animal cruelty that was inflicted on these goats this week. The search warrant fiasco appears botched, and her refusal to show it to anybody until she left was unprofessional.  Claims of being a “goat expert” are overblown and probably less than honest.  A more effective strategy should include approaching the Lattin’s Farm folk and see if the “anonymous” complaint was justified, and find out what they are doing.  It isn’t like this is a meth head who forgot to feed the horse on the back 40 while he was on a bender.  This is a thriving business with paid staff and many customers who view these goats each day. Abusing a thriving, local farm is probably not the best approach.

 

  • The Thurston County Sheriff’s office needs to systematically review their relationship with organizations like Hoofed Animal Rescue.  A monopolistic relationship with this organization is not healthy and is ripe for abuse.  This organization has a history of abusing people in Thurston County and many animals do not flourish or improve under their care.  This is particularly troubling when a possible profit motive is introduced which encourages targeted abuse of other citizens in Thurston County so they can sell or take their animals, or to draft a new fundraiser based on a newspaper article.  These types of organizations can serve a valuable role in our community, but it human nature to take advantage of self-serving opportunities. Common sense should dictate that some checks and balances be introduced to the process of seizing animals.  Groups that don’t profit from animal rescue operations like the Farm Bureau or the Livestock Coalition should assist the county in drafting up the proper procedures and rules – put them in writing as county policy.  Then the boundaries will be clear and the opportunity for confusion, self-enrichment, and corruption will be reduced.  Similar legal processes are already in place for other types of terrible situations like eviction, eminent domain, etc.  Clear policies should be enacted here as well.

 

  • The Thurston County Sheriff’s office needs to review their priorities.  Real crimes are
    Despite what we want to believe, the Sheriff’s office doesn’t walk (or drive) on water. There is room for improvement and a need to think about priorities

    being committed.  Real problems exist.  Law enforcement is not an easy job.  I have several friends who work for the Thurston County Sheriff’s office.  I have been on ride-alongs – something I recommend to everyone who doubts the challenge this critical job represents on a daily basis.  However, people lose faith in law enforcement when law enforcement goes after healthy goats and ignores serious crimes.  There is no need to “make work.”  First do no harm to the citizens who live here.  Perhaps the Sheriff’s Office could follow a protocol to investigate complaints and involve a veterinarian in determining the appropriate plan of care for any questions regarding disease, condition or injury. The seizure or removal of animals should only be done in an emergency situation where the animal’s life is in jeopardy, following the stipulations outlined in the animal cruelty statute. The conditions required by the animal cruelty statute did not apply to the Lattin’s Cider Mill goat seizure on Wednesday.

One of Lattin’s Cider Mill Farm goats taken away – a photo in the “rescue” trailer

About those goats

The biggest claim of abuse regarding the Lattin’s Cider Mill Farms goats was the fact they had hoof rot.  Very few people actually have hands-on experience with livestock.  This is just a modern fact. Goats develop hoof rot as a common condition particularly in Western Washington because of the damp soil conditions that predominate here.  It is considered a contagious disease found in the soil.  It is particularly challenging in Western Washington where the wet soil and near constant rainfall most of the year make hoof rot such a common condition.  It is not a condition that can be cured as much as it is managed.  There are a variety of treatments that must be used to to treat the goat hooves.  Hand-trimming and cleaning their hooves is very important, of course.  Giving them vaccinations is part of the treatment process as well.  In conditions like Lattin’s Cider Mill Farms, based on past veterinarian examinations and recommendations, it appears that the farm was following the basic protocols of treatment.  The farm owners appear to have the documentation to support the fact they were following the right protocols.  

These are the goats being taken away

It is unlikely that anyone at Hoofed Animal Rescue would institute anything different than the treatment being administered at Lattin’s Cider Mill.  However, due to the need to justify their existence, it is possible the goats may be harmed while under the Animal Rescue’s “care.”  This is always the greatest fear by those who lose their animals to strangers.  Again, Lattin’s Cider Mill Farms are hardly unknown people or a secretive operation behind compound walls.   The animal cruelty statute was created to help protect animals, not to be a bludgeon to abuse people or organizations who are clearly trying to do the right thing.  If there is a better way to do things or to improve animal care, perhaps some step short of seizing the animals would be appropriate. 

Misuse of the animal cruelty statute wastes resources, angers citizens, destroys the credibility of law enforcement, and harms the very animals it purports to protect.  Despite past history of incompetence, Thurston County staff can improve by restoring common sense to local government.  The Thurston County sheriff’s office has a good reputation in the community.  Stories like this don’t help.

Oh, and please give the Lattins back their goats before their goats are hurt by the “rescuers”…

(note:  This article has been modified since it was first published)

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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

Background articles, links and source documents:

Lattin’s Cider Mill and Farm – website

Hoofed Animal Rescue of Thurston County – website.

Washington State Livestock Coalition – website

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office – website

The Olympian – Lattin’s Farm under investigation for animal cruelty as 17 goats seized

Hoofed Animal Rescue stories – an older WordPress site where the author seems to have tracked and written about a lot of the abuses.  

Everett Herald – “Pasado’s Safe Haven: Charity is a force for animals, but critics question tactics, finances”  (more stories about “animal rescue” scams)

 

Page 1 of search order – notice that “17 goats” are listed, but it appears they actually took 18.
Please note, the search warrant references a Thurston County Code that does not exist…

 

 

Disgraced sign-thief politician Frank Gordon sneaks back into local politics

When Democrat Grays Harbor Commissioner Frank Gordon was caught red handed last year on camera stealing his opponent’s campaign signs, his political future seemed to be greatly reduced.  Grays Harbor voters clearly rejected Mr. Gordon and they overwhelmingly voted for his opponent (65% to 34%), Independant Randy Ross.  However, while the Grays Harbor voters weren’t impressed with Gordon’s sign-thieving ways, the Aberdeen Police Department investigated Mr. Gordon and charged him with a misdemeanor ($1000 fine and up to 90 days in jail) for defacing campaign signs.  After a variety of legal maneuvers, Gordon wisely had his court case transferred to Thurston County, and he was able to avoid either a major fine or jail time.  Now he found a way to get on the ballot once again – unopposed – this time as a Councilman for the City of Aberdeen.

In between committee meetings, incumbent Grays Harbor County Commissioner stole his opponent’s campaign signs last year. These photos made the news all over Washington State.

Caught in the act, slapped on the wrist

Instead of getting into real legal trouble, Mr. Gordon entered into a “12-month stipulated order of continuance status” earlier this year. This is a convenient type of legal agreement where the defendant apparently doesn’t have a criminal history (Gordon’s political history doesn’t count), but they realize “mistakes were made.”  Mr. Gordon didn’t admit guilt, but acknowledged that there were sufficient facts that would have resulted in a conviction. Photos of you stealing your opponent’s signs tend to be pretty damning facts.  It certainly pays to have a good attorney and good political connections can help as well.

Debunking local rumors – this is NOT Frank Gordon’s new campaign theme logo this year.

Complaints about stolen political signs are common during election time.  Occasionally political sign thieves are captured on video – masked and sneaking away with their opponent’s signs late at night – classic Youtube fodder.  It is rare to catch a politician stealing signs.  It is even more exceptional to catch him on camera in his suit in between committee meetings in the middle of the day with a very clear photo caught in the act.  There are more photos of Sasquatch floating around out there.  It was Gordon’s fate to be immortalized as the sign stealing politician who was thrown out of office by the voters in his county.  Most people expected Gordon to go back to the Grays Harbor Democratic Party where he could steal signs a little more covertly.

The voters of Grays Harbor may have rejected Frank Gordon, but it looks like the City of Aberdeen isn’t done with him yet

However, it appears that the voters of Grays Harbor are not done with Frank Gordon.  With his sign theft drama behind him, he has jumped into the political fray once again in the City of Aberdeen for an uncontested seat on the City Council.  The only way he won’t be the next city councilman of Aberdeen will be if the local citizens organize a write-in campaign during the primary, which can still be done, but isn’t easy.

Apathy is the real enemy of freedom

Apparently, at the last minute during filing week, Gordon realized nobody had filed for the Aberdeen City Council seat, so he ran down to the auditor’s office and signed up.  This is a terrible indication of voter apathy.  Every year, hundreds of local races go uncontested and some even vacant due to lack of local interest.  People of all political persuasions often complain about a lack of political choices, however, this story should serve as another reminder that we have only apathy and ourselves to blame when the only choice on the ballot for the voters of Aberdeen this November is a disgraced sign-stealing politician.

 

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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

Related background articles:

Politicians steal opponent’s campaign signs while on the taxpayer dime

Washington State county elections trend more conservative

Local County election results – preview state wide political trends

Daily World  – “Gordon agrees to court compromise”

Daily World – “Gordon pleads not guilty to campaign sign charges”

Daily World – “Commissioner Gordon will be tried in Thurston County”

The Vidette – Commissioner Gordon Accused of Stealing Campaign Signs

Commissioner Gordon Accused of Stealing Campaign Signs

King5 news interview with both Commissioner Candidates about Sign-Theft Gate

Kiro7 – Grays Harbor Commissioner Accused of Tossing Opponents Signs

Other Washington State campaign sign thief stories:

Seattle Times – “Eastside House candidate’s removal of signs leads to complaint” (2006 Democrat candidate for House, and Kirkland City Council member was caught with 100 campaign signs she didn’t like)

Liberal Circus – “Candidate swipes signs” (more details on the 2016 Deb Eddy sign theft issue – 246 signs found in her car and garage – returned by police to Republicans)

The rough road ahead – campaign finance reform in Washington State

Yesterday, the Seattle Times published an article about my efforts to expose campaign finance violations in Washington State.  I appreciate when the media covers stories like this.  Campaign finance reform is often considered boring, wonkish, and not usually worthy of media attention. In the limited print space provided to Joseph O’Sullivan, The Seattle Times journalist, much about this story was omitted.  Here is the rest of the story.

A typical monthly meeting of the Public Disclosure Commission in Olympia – the view from a public visitor

Making a real impact

Filing a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) by itself is a fairly simple and straightforward process.  However, just like measuring activity and representing this as an “achievement,” the number of complaints someone files with the PDC is a meaningless statistic without more data.  How effective have these complaints been in exposing campaign finance violations and improving compliance with Washington State’s campaign finance laws?  Let’s look at the facts:

  • As of today this author has filed 108 complaints with the PDC.  Of these, 15 were PDC only complaints, which leaves us with 92 AG Citizen Action Notices filed – the primary focus of the recent Seattle Times article
  • Only 48 AG Complaints filed by this author have been completely investigated and 44 are still in process (usually means the AG and/or the PDC is still investigating them or preparing a response).
  • Of the 48 complaints, 31 became 13 active lawsuits (some lawsuits incorporate multiple complaints), mostly filed by the AG’s office.  Three lawsuits have already settled for fines and fees.  One additional complaint resulted in a fine by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Board against City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant (see list of lawsuits below for specifics and case numbers).
  • Of the remaining 16 processed complaints, 5 are abandoned by both this author and the AG as we have agreed that uncovered facts failed to justify prosecution of the cases or there was some other legal problem with the complaint.  The remaining 11 represent 8 candidates or committees where the AG chose not to prosecute, despite finding violations during the investigation.  This is called prosecutorial discretion.  For a visual representation of the effectiveness of these complaints see the following chart.

Too much credit is given to this author by both the Seattle Times reporter and the angry partisan activists who comment on this issue.  Most of the credit for these results belong to others.  An initiative by the voters of Washington State created the PDC and the original foundation for most of Washington State’s campaign finance laws in 1972.  The legislature over the years has modified these laws.  The PDC bureaucracy and Commission has drafted and created the rules.  The Washington State Attorney General’s office filed most of the lawsuits.  All this author did was research the violations and report them to the proper authorities.  This action is very similar to a 911 call to report a crime.  

The author speaking to the Public Disclosure Commission at their May 25, 2017 regular meeting

The 67% success rate demonstrated so far will improve with experience and efficiency, unless there is a radical change in policy at the PDC or the AG’s office.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is aggressive about prosecuting campaign finance violations

Additionally, this author uncovered and exposed substantial and systemic failures to comply with campaign finance laws on multiple occasions.  Much has been written about the obvious significant violations by the Spokane County Democratic Central Committee and the King County Democrats.  However, completely unreported (except by PDC staff at the recent May 25th Commission meeting) was the fact there was only a 25% compliance rate with RCW 42.17A.560 by cities and other municipalities.  A total of 19 complaints (out of 246 potential violators) were filed by this author to help expose this problem and force a substantial improvement in compliance right now.  

Substantial improvements in reporting, transparency and compliance is a good, bipartisan result for our state.  

How did this all begin? Campaign promises, death threats, cult leader, lawsuits and Senator Sam Hunt

AG Ferguson has received glowing media coverage of his litigation exploits from the Left

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has led the way by emphasizing campaign finance compliance as a priority for the AG’s office both in his campaign promises last year, and also with his creation of a special unit which specializes in campaign finance prosecutions.  Additionally, Ferguson established the criteria by which he prioritized serious campaign finance violations when he prosecuted Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman in 2016.  Wyman’s violations were uncovered by Washington State Democratic Party officials who filed the original complaint against her.  This is now called the “Wyman Standard” when referring to AG complaint lawsuit threshold.

JZ Knight claims to Channel Ramtha – a 35,000 year old warrior spirit who likes twinkies and donates big cash to Democrats. She/it also likes to file and finance lawsuits against all critics.

Secondly, while I was familiar with some PDC rules and campaign finance laws, I am no expert.  I became engaged in local elections last year in Thurston County where I have long been an outspoken critic of the Thurston County Commissioners and their policies.  Last year’s anemic effort at campaign activism with some local robocalls resulted in a death threat from a Democrat PCO (who called from his home phone and left a message), a restraining order against that PCO, a PDC complaint filed by the Washington State Democratic Party, a lawsuit by the Washington State Democratic Party, the local Democratic Party finally renouncing violence as a political tactic, and another lawsuit funded by a local cult leader named JZ Knight who largely funds the Thurston County Democratic Party (over $217,000 in the last few years of direct contributions and support for Democrat candidates) and claims to channel a 35,000 year old homicidal Lemurian warrior spirit named “Ramtha.”  I helped expose JZ Knight’s racist speeches in 2012 which resulted in the Washington State Democratic Party divesting themselves of the recent large donations she had provided that year.  JZ Knight/Ramtha has been on a local rampage ever since – by filing or funding multiple lawsuits and shovelling large piles of cash into the local Democratic Party.

Senator Sam Hunt was a primary inspiration for this author to better understand the campaign finance laws

I responded with PDC complaints of my own including one against Democratic Senate candidate Sam Hunt, who wrote a letter to the PDC claiming that I was ignorant about campaign finance laws.  He was right, and his actions encouraged me to educate myself and become more involved in this process.  Thanks to Senator Sam Hunt’s encouragement and inspiration from the Washington State Democratic Party, the journey to explore and better understand the problems with our state’s campaign finance laws began.  As noted below, Senator Sam Hunt, the Thurston County Democrats, and both candidates for the Thurston County Commission were charged by Attorney General Ferguson with a variety of campaign finance violations.

Both Speaker Chopp and Senator Hunt have discovered that the size of campaign finance penalties also matter once they were both sued for campaign finance violations

Originally, I believed that it was possible to demonstrate that nearly every candidate is in violation of the campaign finance laws in one way or another.  However, while this appears to be true, I have also discovered massive failures to comply with the disclosure laws (Spokane County Democrats, King County Democrats, etc).  I have now shifted the focus towards collecting relevant data to support sound bipartisan policy fixes to the existing campaign finance laws that would still support the transparency goals of the original initiative, but become less of a barrier to political participation than the current system.  For this, just like the Democrats, I blame the Republicans.

Why the Republicans are to blame and the perception of political bias in the agencies

Andrew Biviano, Chair of the Spokane County Democrats (right), made this his Facebook Profile Pic right before AG Ferguson (left) filed suit against him

A fundamental assumption of campaign finance law enforcement in our state is the belief that every political contest has at least two sides in opposition.  This theory then assumes that each competing faction will use the PDC open records to hold the other side accountable.  When one faction sees a failure to comply with the rules, they file a complaint on the other.  The PDC (or AG) becomes less about enforcement than behaving like a referee in these political disputes.  The  entire campaign finance edifice is also based on the political impartiality of the PDC and the AG.  

Here is where I believe this system has broken down.  After interviewing many Republican candidates, treasurers, and local activists around the state, there is a common view from their perspective that both the PDC and the AG are entirely partisan and biased against Republican candidates and committees.  This perception is based on two fundamental categories of evidence.   First, the bureaucracy in this state has been controlled by the Democratic Party since 1985.  All directors have been appointed by Democratic governors.  Secondly, nearly every Republican organization in the state has been on the receiving end of PDC complaints filed against them or other Republican groups they know and they generally believe they were treated unfairly and in a biased manner by the PDC.  They feel that the Democrats never get the same treatment.  

This bias perception has never been expressed to me in a similar manner by Democrats.  I have never had a Democrat activist or candidate tell me that the PDC was biased against Democrats.  This perception has created the current scenario where both parties and their candidates have suffered.

The Washington State Democrats have always been more effective at filing complaints, plus they have cool logos like this.

The Republicans, with some notable exceptions, for many years have rarely filed PDC complaints against their Democratic rivals.  In fact, a rough survey of complaints for the past 10-15 years (the data is still being compiled) shows that a disproportionate level of complaints were filed by Democrats and a declining number of complaints filed by Republicans.  The Republicans have trended towards focusing on self-compliance (not always achieving this) and they have ignored their political competitors because they believe that filing a complaint is a worthless and pointless exercise.  The problem with this trend, for the Democrats, is the fact that when the Democratic Committees or candidates fail to comply with the law, nobody is paying attention and there are no consequences.  Minor violations go unnoticed, so eventually these metastasize into major and eventually catastrophic violations like the Spokane and King County Democrats.

It also takes two engaged political factions to keeps both on the straight and narrow with the PDC

Not every Democratic Committee has egregiously violated the campaign finance laws of Washington State.  Most are in violation of some kind, but there is a spectrum of violation.  Interestingly, in the pockets of the state where Republicans still file the occasional PDC complaint, the Democrats tend to have their books in order (Whatcom County Democrats, for example).  In places where the Republicans have rarely, if ever, filed complaints, the Democrats are going to court – Spokane, King, Thurston, etc.  So, it is certainly fair that the Republicans share the blame for the wholesale failure of many Democratic Committees and candidates to follow the campaign finance laws.  Hopefully this trend of non-compliance will change due in no small part to this author’s efforts.

Some believe campaign finance reform is a mythical, pointless quest

Is the PDC politically biased?  Maybe, but I don’t believe this is as clear cut as many Republican activists think.  Yes, it is true that the directors of the PDC and the members of the board have all been appointed by Democratic governors for decades now.  It is also true that the partisan affiliation of almost every employee who works at the PDC and the AG (when it can be found) is with the Democratic Party. However, this by itself does not ensure a partisan outcome of results.  Anecdotal examples of individual biased results are not enough to prove partisan bias for the agency as a

whole.  For example, it is true that  Democrats have filed the overwhelming volume of complaints until recently.  The State Democratic Party  has a rotation of paid staffers who do this, and they probably file more effective complaints.  I have looked at their historic actions to model my current efforts.  Logically, since the Republicans have no equivalent institutional skillset, then the Republicans would be at a strong disadvantage here – and it may not be entirely due to political bias.  It could be partly due to a lack of complaint competency.

Others believe campaign finance reform is part of the corruption

Regardless, I am hoping that enough data and comparatively valid examples can be produced over the next year or so to produce a report which can clarify the bias (if any) by either the AG or the PDC.  In the meantime, data is still being collected, and the data should inform everyone about which reforms are most logical and impactful.

Frank Chopp shouldn’t abdicate his legislative responsibility.  Any fixes must be bipartisan

Ultimately, I believe campaign finance reform is long overdue in this state, but the solutions must be bipartisan in nature and result.  More importantly, these reforms must be initiated by the legislature so that they are codified in the law.  They should be designed to help the newcomer to the political process be transparent just as much as the incumbent, and they shouldn’t be so complex that only an insider can comply. 

In the recent Seattle Times article, Speaker Frank Chopp was quoted as saying he would only accept campaign finance reforms recommended by the PDC and nobody else.  Assuming this accurately represents Chopp’s position, this is troubling.  When the Speaker of the House will outsource his legislative authority to the bureaucratic agencies, then genuine reform becomes impossible.  

A warning sign located outside the state capital. “No spines allowed”

Can the PDC fix some of the structural problems and make improvements?  Sure.  However, some of the reforms must come from the legislature and Frank Chopp should accept this reality and the responsibility that comes with his position.  Bureaucracy tends to exist primarily to perpetuate itself and expand its own power, regardless of the impact on everyone else.  This is not a conspiracy, it is just human nature.  We elect politicians to represent us in Olympia so that they can overcome real problems and perhaps attempt to fix them.  Abdicating responsibility is not leadership.

It could be true that this is a Don Quixote quest tilting at the windmills of campaign finance reform in our state.  Perhaps expecting them to be simplified, clarified, fixed, or changed in order to make compliance easier is a Utopian scheme and a silly dream.  However, it is worth the effort, and once begun it is best to see it through to some type of completion or resolution.   The worst that could happen is compliance levels with the current arcane rules improve greatly.  However, if some type of success can be found to make it easier for citizens to participate in the political process, then it will be worth the effort.  This is only the beginning.

______________________________________________

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

Seattle Times and related background articles:

First Version of the Seattle Times Article:  “Citizen watchdog peppers Washington State with campaign finance complaints against Dems”  

Second Version of Seattle Times Article (changed at 2pm):  “Is this guy a Washington State watchdog or partisan annoyance?”

Seattle Times – May 17, 2017 – “Political parties should set example with campaign laws, not flout them” (Editorial positive about Glen’s exposing of the truth)

Seattle Times – May 12, 2017 – “Washington AG’s office sues King County Democrats over alleged campaign violations” (Story about AG filing lawsuit based on one of Glen’s notices)

Inlander – May 12, 2017 – “AG lawsuit says Spokane County Dems’ financial reporting problems have lasted years, continue to this day” (good, detailed story about AG lawsuit filed based on Glen’s complaint)

Spokesman Review – May 12, 2017 – “Washington takes Spokane Democrats to court charging campaign reporting violations” (story about AG filing lawsuit based on Glen’s complaint)

Redoubt News – May 12, 2017 – “Citizen Action Snage Multiple Washington Democrats” (Idaho conservative blog site – overview of some of Glen’s complaints exposing campaign finance violations)

Kent Reporter – May 12, 2017 – “King County Democratic Central Committee faces campaign finance complaint” (article about the AG filing a lawsuit based on Glen’s notice to the AG)

Edmonds Beacon – April 21, 2017 – LTE “Strom Peterson complaint ‘frivolous’” (angry LTE about Glen’s complaint filed against Rep. Strom Peterson who was sued by the AG)

Inlander – April 17, 2017 -“Unreported poll previewed a Condon vs. Stuckart mayoral battle that never was”  (Another article from Spokane partly about a second complaint filed by Glen)

Federal Way Mirror – April 14, 2017 – “Flygare and Political Strategy” (article about Glen’s complaint against local candidate(Flygare) and that candidates poor response)

Inlander – April 14, 2017 – “Drumheller No! When Spokane County Dems used scholarship money to pay for operations, some members were furious” (An article about a scandal exposed by Glen’s PDC complaint against Spokane County Dems)

Inlander – April 13, 2017 – “Dems in Disarray” (An article about PDC complaint filed by Glen on Spokane County Democrats)

Edmonds Beacon -April 12, 2017 – “Strom Peterson admits to disclosure violations” (Another article about Glen’s PDC work)

KUOW – April 11, 2017 –“Here’s what Tea Party training looks like in Washington State”  (this article makes Glen look way more important than he is, but it shows a typical activism training session)

B-Town Blog – April 8, 2017 – “Conservative whistleblower has filed 40 public disclosure cases, including against Berkowitz” (local blogger angry about Glen)

Federal Way Mirror – April 7, 2017 – “Public Disclosure Commission investigating Council Candidate” (Federal Way Council candidate Roger Flygar wants to sue Glen for libel when Glen reported him to the PDC for failure to file campaign disclosure documents – this was the printed paper edition) and this was the live link posted a few days later:  “Public Disclosure Commission investigating Council Candidate”

Tacoma News Tribune Editorial – March 18, 2017 – “Stop the PDC from becoming the Petty Complaint Department”  (mainly focused on attacking Glen Morgan – note, major changes made after multiple factual errors were pointed out to the editors)

Tacoma News Tribune Guest Editorial – March 24, 2017 – “Washington PDC needs fixing:  Don’t blame the messenger” (to their credit, the TNT let Glen post a response to their editorial)

The Columbian Editorial – March 23, 2017 – “In our view:  Sunshine worth the Price” (surprisingly, the Columbian wrote a positive editorial about Glen’s PDC complaints – particularly impressive considering this video and this article Glen produced which were pretty critical of the Columbian)

The Olympian Editorial – March 16, 2017 – “Speaker Chopp earned his fine” (a rare positive editorial from the Olympian about Glen’s PDC work – particularly since Glen has been repeatedly critical about the Olympian as well)

Spokesman Review – March 17, 2017 – “Western Washington political activist alleges campaign finance violations by Spokane Democrats” (article about complaint Glen filed exposing very significant PDC violations by Spokane County Democrats)

Seattle Times – March 15, 2017 – “Frank Chopp pays $1700 fine over campaign-finance violations” (another spin on Glen’s complaint against Speaker Chopp)

Seattle PI – March 14, 2017 – “Speaker Chopp will pay $6,469 in penalties for campaign reporting violations”  (article about complaint filed by Glen against Speaker Chopp)

Tacoma News Tribune – “House Speaker hit with campaign finance complaint in growing tug of war” (first traditional media report on the Speaker Chopp complaint – same article reprinted in Olympian and Bellingham Herald)

The Olympian – December 22, 2016 – “‘Everybody is in violation of the PDC,’ says activist as attorney general files complaints” (First article about AG investigating Jim Cooper based on Glen’s complaints)

The Olympian – November 7, 2016 – “Last week, it was a death threat.  This week, he’s getting sued for election robocalls” (It was a busy election season for Glen)

KOMO News – November 3, 2016 – “Thurston County Race Includes Death Threat and Criminal Investigation” (KOMO news did a short video on the death threat against Glen Morgan by Democrat official)

The Olympian – November 2, 2016 – “Man investigated for death threat tells deputy he was ‘fed up’ after robocall” (article about Democrat PCO who threatened to kill Glen)

Lawsuits and other pending complaints:

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

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

May 10, 2017 – Jay Manning lawsuit “State of Washington, ex rel. Glen Morgan vs. Jay Manning”

 

Jay Manning skates away from transparency thanks public disclosure commission

Can political insiders violate campaign finance laws with no consequences?

State of Washington vs. Jim Cooper (TC Case #16-2-04960-34)

State of Washington vs. Kelsey Hulse (TC Case #17-2-00848-34)

State of Washington vs. Thurston County Democrats (TC Case #17-2-00972-34)

State Attorney General Press Releases Initiated by Author’s Complaints

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)

Background Articles on JZ Knight/Ramtha Campaign Finance Scandals

SPLC – Ramtha Riled article

Thurston Democrats ripped off “Ramtha” and wasted donor money

NPR – Ramtha Channeler JZ Knight channels $54,000 into Olympia elections

Seattle Times – Guess who’s a big Trump Fan?  Ramtha – as channelled by Democratic Donor JZ Knight

Ramtha, New Age Cult Leader, Unleashes drunken, racist, homophobic rants to large following

Western Free Press – C’mon JZ Knight, how many accents does Ramtha have?

Seattle Times – State Democratic Party will donate money from JZ Knight after offensive comments

Ancient Warrior Spirit endorses Democrats

Seattle Times – Democrats again under fire over JZ Knight donations

NPR – Washington Democrats reverse course, shed JZ Knight contributions

Seattle PI – Democrats do penance for JZ Knight donations

Will County Commissioner Candidates return racist Ramtha $$?

JZ Knight Tirade Videos Submitted to Politicians she supports

The Olympian – Romero to give away JZ Knight Campaign Cash

Thurston County Dems Accept Money from JZ Knight Again

Ancient spirit channeller buys Thurston County election – controls Democratic Party with big cash infusion

Anti-Semitic Cult Leader who channels ancient Lemurian warrior is “Democrat in Good Standing”

 

State of Washington vs. Jay Manning, cult-funded SuperPAC director exposed

Strange things surround Jay Manning - Dark Money, claims of Environmental leadership, cult leader JZ Knight, warrior spirit Ramtha, and Knight's UFO predictions. Manning is in the middle of it all

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, another campaign finance lawsuit was filed against Jay

Thurston County Superior Court Clerk’s office on Wednesday morning

Manning in Thurston County Superior Court (see complaint filed yesterday linked here – Thurston Superior Court #17-2-02568-34).  Jay Manning, in his capacity as director of the political action committee (PAC) called “People for Thurston PAC” committed a variety of campaign finance violations during the general 2016 election season.  This is the second lawsuit filed against Jay Manning for campaign disclosure violations this year.  The PAC he directed was funded almost entirely by JZ Knight, a local racist cult leader from Thurston County who claims to channel a 35,000 year old homicidal Lemurian warrior spirit named “Ramtha.”  Although the Washington State Democratic Party divested itself of her/it’s large campaign donations in 2012, the Thurston County Democrats eagerly grabbed $215,000 in campaign donations and candidate support since 2014 – including the $56,000 Knight/Ramtha gave to Jay Manning’s cult SuperPAC in 2016.  

Jay Manning – controversial insider and JZ Knight defender

Jay Manning packing his papers after skating away from transparency a few months ago at a PDC hearing. It will be harder for him to hide the truth this time.

Jay Manning had a long and distinguished political career until his recent serial violations of the campaign finance laws.  Jay Manning worked in the Washington State Attorney General’s office for many years before being appointed Director of the Washington State Department of Ecology.  During his tenure at Ecology, Manning was known for harassing farmers and property owners around the state – particularly in Kittitas County.  Some of these efforts laid the groundwork for the very controversial Hirst decision by the Washington State Supreme Court last October, which ignored history, the law, and the legislature to invent new water law in the state.  After his controversial and destructive tenure at the Department of Ecology, Manning then became Chief of Staff for Governor Gregoire.  

Jay Manning speaking in Marrakesh, Morocco at a US government sponsored event on climate change

Currently, Manning is a partner in Cascadia Law Group, a left-leaning law firm that specializes in harming property owners and farmers, while claiming environmental credentials,- continuing the trend he helped facilitate while Director of the Department of Ecology.  Manning also currently is Chair of the scandal-plagued Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council and has been appointed by Governor Inslee as a Trustee for Eastern Washington University.  Jay Manning is the consummate political insider in Olympia.  

Jay Manning (on the far left) has many high profile positions in government. Here is his official role as Trustee for Eastern Washington University

Manning likes to jet set around the world on the taxpayer dime speaking about global climate change and similar related topics.  Apparently, he is also a trusted confidant for local racist cult leader JZ Knight, who was a client of Manning’s law firm at some point (Manning convinced the Public Disclosure Commission to approve hiding his law firm’s client list from public scrutiny on his financial affairs documents earlier this year, but in the hearing, he did admit that Knight had been one of his clients).  Manning is not just a political insider, but also a close confidant to the spirit world of Ramtha.  Manning was trusted by Knight/Ramtha to run the cult-cash funded People for Thurston PAC in 2016 in Thurston County in an effort to elect Democratic candidates Jim Cooper and Kelsey Hulse and defeat Independant candidates Gary Edwards and John Hutchings.

JZ Knight claims to Channel Ramtha – a 35,000 year old warrior spirit who likes twinkies and donates big cash to Democrats

JZ Knight, Ramtha, and Jay Manning all failed in their election efforts.  Along the way, it appears that multiple campaign finance violations of Washington State law were committed by Manning.

As discussed in this article, Jay Manning was sued by the Washington State Attorney General (Thurston Superior Court Case #17-2-00373-34)  which was settled February 13, 2017 for a total of $6,385 in fees and fines.  This case involved Manning’s failure to submit his Financial Affairs documents to the Public Disclosure Commission as required by law for his position as Trustee at Eastern Washington University (and also for his role at the Puget Sound Partnership).  Part of the fine was deferred, but with the recent lawsuit filed in Thurston Superior Court today, it appears likely that Manning will be required to pay the deferred portion of that fine to the State soon as well.

JZ Knight/Ramtha – Racist speeches, major donor to Democrats and recent Trump supporter

The most bizarre  part of this case is clearly the weird racist Cult leader JZ Knight and the 35,000 year old homicidal Lemurian warrior spirit named “Ramtha” she claims to “channel” who has prophesied and warned about the impending invasion of the lizard people who live under the glaciers at Mt. Rainier.  In addition to being one of the largest donors to the Washington State Democratic Party until they divested from her funds in late 2012, she was also a major donor to President Obama’s election campaign in 2012 and 2008.

JZ Knight/Ramtha gets emotional and tells people what she/it thinks about Jews, Catholics, Mexicans, and others…

JZ Knight is no stranger to controversy.  She is a serial litigant – attacking former followers who leave the cult and anyone who dares to expose the truth about her strange, drunken antics while channelling Ramtha.  In 2012, a series of videos were released by this author which showed JZ Knight/Ramtha making racist and derogatory statements about Jews, Catholics, Mexicans, gays, and organic farmers.  While Knight/Ramtha claimed they were “edited,” she/it refused to release the “unedited” videos which supposedly would have placed the racist speeches in proper context.  Knight/Ramtha successfully threatened lawsuits against Youtube, Vimeo, and all other video hosting companies who would dare to show these videos, claiming they were “copyrighted.”  Knight even attempted a failed and aborted litigation against this author in Federal Court in 2014-2015, which she dropped once it became clear she was going to lose. 

Jim Cooper and Kelsey Hulse – they were the only Democrat choices for the Thurston County Commissioners – JZ Knight helped fund their campaigns, and they were both sued by the state Attorney General for violating campaign finance laws

JZ Knight is also the largest donor to the Thurston County Democratic Party in history.  The Thurston Democrats still refuse to condemn the JZ Knight/Ramtha overtly racist speeches and have squandered the large sums of money JZ Knight/Ramtha has sent to them in recent years.  It is probably no coincidence that the Thurston County Democrats are also in court for campaign finance violations brought by the Washington State Attorney General’s office (TC Court Case #17-2-00972-34).  Additionally, the two JZ Knight/Ramtha supported failed Democratic Commissioner candidates were also charged with serious campaign finance violations.  Failed candidate Jim Cooper is still in court (TC Court Case #16-2-04960-34), and Kelsey Hulse paid $2,920 in fees and fines on March 6 earlier this year as part of her legal settlement (TC Court Case #17-2-00848-34).

In a fit of cosmic rage, JZ Knight/Ramtha has joined forces with the troubled Thurston County Democratic Party and has filed another frivolous lawsuit against this author over her anger about robocalls which correctly and accurately identified JZ Knight’s racist history (she used her son and another follower as plaintiffs).  Most of her/it’s bottomless well of cash is obtained by followers who pay for the opportunity to listen to Ramtha’s timeless wisdom (and the odd endorsement of Donald Trump and alien flying saucers) as well as a secretive corporation she/it owns called “The Blu Room” (trademarked) which claims cosmic healing through use of UV blue light immersion in hidden rooms.   While Knight has been investigated by Federal agencies in the past, it is not clear that her belated endorsement of Trump will be enough to fend off the inevitable future investigations of her weird actions to control the local political process through the secretive assistance of Jay Manning and others.

 
This is only the early stages of fully understanding the Jay Manning/JZ Knight/Ramtha political triangle and the various violations of the law committed by them to hide the truth.  These are two (maybe three depending on how you categorize “Ramtha”) experienced political operators who know how to weather legal storms and exert influence by throwing money at their problems.  However, even a bottomless pit of cult cash can’t bury the truth forever.  This is just the beginning…

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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

(Full Disclosure:  Ramtha and JZ Knight sued the author in 2014 in Federal Court for providing videos of various racist tirades she/it made in previous years to her/it’s followers as part of a public record to the Thurston County Commissioners (whose political campaigns she/it funded).  Ramtha/JZ Knight claimed that the videos were selectively “edited.”  She/it refused to release a full unedited video to prove the clips were edited out of context.  Finally, she/it wisely chose to drop the hopeless lawsuit in 2015 since it was obvious all JZ Knight/Ramtha claims were bogus.  Additionally, all the referenced PDC complaints were filed by the author against Jay Manning and the JZ Knight/Ramtha PAC he managed.  The author also filed the PDC complaints which led to AG litigation against the Thurston County Democrats, failed commissioner candidate Jim Cooper, and failed commissioner candidate Kelsey Hulse.  The author was hopeful to see common sense restored to Thurston County once again despite the large sums of money spent by JZ Knight/Ramtha and supervised by Jay Manning.  The author has been informed that Ramtha recently travelled through space and time to berate JZ Knight for wasting her money on the Democrats in Thurston County.  Life truly is stranger than fiction).

Lawsuit and other pending complaints:

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

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

May 10, 2017 – Jay Manning lawsuit “State of Washington, ex rel. Glen Morgan vs. Jay Manning”

Complaint #9044 – Jay Manning / People for Thurston PAC

Complaint #9995 – Jay Manning / People for Thurston PAC

Complaint #10006 – Jay Manning/ People for Thurston PAC

Complaint #11384 – Jay Manning/People for Thurston PAC

Complaint #11386 – Jay Manning/People for Thurston PAC

Complaint #12110 – Jay Manning/People for Thurston PAC

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

Jay Manning fined $4800 by Attorney General for violating campaign finance laws

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

Sampling of AG and Prosecutor documents to Jay Manning

170105 – AG2JManning – 3 CAN notices

Ltr – TCP – 20161020 NP – People for TC PAC

Ltr-20161202 -AG2PDC People TC (3 complaints)

Ltr-20161219-AG2JayManning

Background articles on Attorney General lawsuits:

Can political insiders violate campaign finance laws with no consequences?

PDC – Jay Manning 2012 Donation Report to Bob Ferguson for Attorney General campaign

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

State of Washington vs. Jim Cooper (TC Case #16-2-04960-34)

State of Washington vs. Kelsey Hulse (TC Case #17-2-00848-34)

State of Washington vs. Thurston County Democrats (TC Case #17-2-00972-34)

 

Background Articles on JZ Knight/Ramtha Campaign Finance Scandals

SPLC – Ramtha Riled article

Thurston Democrats ripped off “Ramtha” and wasted donor money

NPR – Ramtha Channeler JZ Knight channels $54,000 into Olympia elections

Seattle Times – Guess who’s a big Trump Fan?  Ramtha – as channelled by Democratic Donor JZ Knight

Ramtha, New Age Cult Leader, Unleashes drunken, racist, homophobic rants to large following

Western Free Press – C’mon JZ Knight, how many accents does Ramtha have?

Seattle Times – State Democratic Party will donate money from JZ Knight after offensive comments

Ancient Warrior Spirit endorses Democrats

Seattle Times – Democrats again under fire over JZ Knight donations

NPR – Washington Democrats reverse course, shed JZ Knight contributions

Seattle PI – Democrats do penance for JZ Knight donations

Will County Commissioner Candidates return racist Ramtha $$?

JZ Knight Tirade Videos Submitted to Politicians she supports

The Olympian – Romero to give away JZ Knight Campaign Cash

Thurston County Dems Accept Money from JZ Knight Again

Ancient spirit channeller buys Thurston County election – controls Democratic Party with big cash infusion

Anti-Semitic Cult Leader who channels ancient Lemurian warrior is “Democrat in Good Standing”

Thurston County goes Independent, first time in state history

Why we must abolish the Puget Sound Partnership scam 

Governor Inslee vetoes solutions for schools

In a strange, erratic decision, Washington State Governor Inslee vetoed part of a school siting bill this week.  Bill supporters were surprised, but very few accused Governor Inslee of being a logical or reasonable guy.  Bill number ESHB 1017 was considered a bipartisan compromise which passed 81-15 in the house and 37-11 in the Senate.  Many years in the making and originally driven by the problems discovered by the Bethel School District when lawsuits were filed against them by Futurewise-friendly “environmental” groups.  After five years of attempting to reform the law, a bipartisan “fix” bill was passed.

The cult of the Growth Management Act

The Growth Management Act(GMA) was adopted by the legislature in 1990, and it was largely modeled on the “Smart Growth” Central Planning Scheme from Florida.  Florida repealed their statewide “Smart Growth” Law in 2011, and got out of the Central Planning business.  However, Washington’s GMA scheme continues  to stumble backwards.  Most legislators who approved the Growth Management Act in 1990, never envisioned this central planning scheme would cause such harm to the state, but like most central planning efforts, the unintended consequences eventually become consequential.  Washington State’s school districts were discovering the pain of GMA the hard way when the combination of growing student population and smaller class size requirements started to accelerate the need for more schools.

The Priests of the GMA Cult – Futurewise, as always, testifies for in favor of inflicting maximum harm on local communities

 The Bethel School District was involved in a particularly egregious case where the school, in coordination with Pierce County and all county planning agencies, located and purchased property to build a new high school – right across the street from a fire station, next to existing bus routes, and with easy access to the necessary utilities.  Promptly, several extremist environmentalists (using the Futurewise model – a professional litigation operation which mostly files lawsuits against local governments to push their extreme agenda).  The school district paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend itself before the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) and lost (case linked here).  This also led to another costly lawsuit by five local Pierce County School Districts against the county (lawsuit linked here).  The GMHB suggested the school use eminent domain in a local city and destroy people’s homes to build the school instead of using the vacant land the taxpayers had already purchased.  The Bethel School District decided to try to change the irrational law instead.  This author produced a short video in 2013 about this case a few years ago (linked here).

 

Soon, other school districts like Issaquah and Richland  were running into similar situations.  Eventually this led to the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) prioritizing their lobbying efforts to focus on changing the GMA to allow for more flexible and less costly school siting options.  This author testified as an elected school director for the Rochester School District for many years in favor of this common sense and rational change.  Every time, organizations like Sierra Club and Futurewise demanded the cult of GMA rule supreme over all, and they refused to even consider flexibility for schools

Governor Inslee struggles to explain just how big the tax hike will be for average citizens of Washington

Taxpayers always lose with Inslee

The problem with all of these disputes is that taxpayers lose at every turn.  The school districts are funded with taxpayer dollars and much of it is wasted on lawsuits, extensive litigation, negotiations, and lobbying.  Meanwhile, the cost of building the schools are artificially inflated beyond their true cost, which further squeezes the tax base for no benefit to the community, the schools, and certainly not the children.  Clearly, the environmental organizations enjoy and profit from the harm they inflict on these communities.  However, we expect saner and more mature politicians to look for solutions.  Despite years of failure in the legislature, a few weeks ago a bipartisan bill was passed in both chambers.  Inslee chose to veto this bipartisan solution.

All this to justify an outdated, inflexible, Cold-War era central planning scheme which creates ample employment opportunities for lawyers and bureaucrats, but exists primarily to perpetuate itself.  Supporting the GMA at all costs has become the modern religion of the environmental Left.  The Cult of GMA is strong and Governor Inslee wants to be the high priest.  If schools, children, taxpayers, and common sense suffer – those are just “distractions” for him and the special interests who fund his political aspirations.

Inslee tries to explain the job of the Governor – apparently using bear analogies

Nobody has ever accused Inslee of being a genius.  Bumbling through the day, coloring with crayons, and botching policy has been common.  While it is easy to laugh at his fumbling ways, real people are harmed by his calloused incompetence, and the fact he just doesn’t care about the harm he inflicts.  The people of Washington State have suffered enough at the fumbling, careless hands of this guy.  It would be easier to laugh at this goof if we didn’t live here.  Inslee is damaging far more than just our schools.

Taxpayers of Washington can take great comfort knowing that Governor Inslee puts far more time into his artistic endeavors with crayons than in trying to help fix the abuses his agencies inflict on them.

_____________________________________________________________________

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

Background Articles and Source Documents:

Stifling Human Ingenuity

House Republicans Press Release:  McCauslin school siting bill headed to Governors Desk 

The Lens – Lawmakers lift restrictions on school siting

The Lens – Governor’s Veto Creates Challenges in School Siting Decisions

Washington State Wire -Representative McCaslin and Taylor release statement following governor’s partial veto of school siting bill

New Geography – Florida Repeals “Smart Growth” Law

Video:  Tales of Tyranny – Bethel School District Story

House Bill 1017 – School Siting Bill – As passed the legislature

Growth Management Hearings Board CASE NO. 12-3-0002c – ruling against Bethel School District

5 Pierce County School Districts sue Pierce County after GMHB case Case #16-2-09641-2

Spokane Democrats take kid’s cash for secret salary and epic parties

Jim Castrolang in happier days as Chair leading a Spokane County Democratic candidate forum

Jim CastroLang, part time pastor and paid executive director of the Spokane Democrats, resigned a few weeks ago. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Unfortunately, recent articles written by this author and multiple investigative articles published recently by Daniel Walters of the Pacific Northwest Inlander exposed a sordid tale of chaos, confusion, and significant problems inside the Spokane County Democratic Party. As bad as this situation appears, it will only get worse over the next few months as Spokane County, Washington State becomes ground zero for exposing campaign finance violations.

Taking cash from kids – scholarship money used for adults

Jim CastroLang juggles many responsibilities

As reported in the Inlander (linked here) from April 14th, a scholarship fund had been established by the Spokane Democrats over a decade ago using money donated to the party by longtime Spokane County Democrat icon Betty Drumheller after her death in 2000. The original amount was $83,000.  Much of it was frittered away, but beginning in 2009, the majority of the funds left from this donation were set aside as a scholarship fund for kids in the community. It was not intended to pay for parties or to cover the cost of paying Jim CastroLang’s salary as the new executive director.

Unfortunately, despite the clear 2009 board meeting minutes, and the best of intentions by historic boards and Party activists, the recently resigned executive director Jim CastroLang did exactly this. The recent complaint filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) by this author (linked here) referenced the missing $7000 from the Drumheller account as one of many campaign finance violations committed by CastroLang. There are internal disputes over how and when this money was spent. There are also many questions over what happened to the rest of the money. It appears this fund was never reported to the PDC, which was also illegal. However, regardless of how the money vanished, one fact is clear: the kids won’t be getting their scholarships.

CastroLang promised to make the party go pro, but instead went amature fiasco

Spokane County Democrats are a train wreck
You just can’t look away

The sales pitch from CastroLang to justify the expense of hiring him for the Spokane County Democrats primarily revolved around making the party more professional and effective at fundraising. He claimed he would “turn Spokane blue.” Local political parties are typically run by volunteers and rarely function like slick operations. Improving their professional image might improve fundraising.  This claim was made by both CastroLang and earlier this year by the newly elected chair Andrew Biviano. However, political parties, PACs, activists, and the whirlwind of activities that surround them are intended to help elect candidates. They don’t need to be pro, but simple competency is nice.

Reality is a harsh instructor, and despite the happy talk, professionalism for the Spokane County Democrats took a sharp turn to amateur hour once CastroLang took charge and collected a regular paycheck. This is far more than just the wholesale systemic collapse of any effort to comply with the PDC rules.  Belatedly, when an effort was made in late 2016 to correct the record, significant expenditures (CastroLang’s salary) and donations (WEA, Spokane Tribe, Spokane Firefighters) were suspiciously left off the reports. As detailed in the complaint (linked here), and discussed in this article, the party descended into fiscal fiasco buried by a facade of good intentions.

The Spokane County Democrats make the choice of corruption or incompetence

Incompetence was their only defense against charges of corruption

Many people claim they are not crooks

After receiving the complaint, the priority of newly elected chair Biviano was to assure party members, donors, and the public that the Spokane County Democrats were not crooks. Specifically, it was very important that CastroLang be exonerated as a good guy. The challenge with this damage control was crafting a believable explanation for the breathtaking scope of violations. This was a real challenge. When threatened by accusations of corruption, the Spokane County Democrats vigorously claimed they were not crooks, just spectacularly incompetent.

The incompetence was breathtaking and impressive. They claimed incompetence at filing paperwork. They were dumbfounded by the software program (used effectively by many other Democratic Committees). Party leadership was blissfully unaware that no PDC documents were being filed for eight months. When the documents were finally filed egregiously late, nobody noticed that major donations and expenditures were missing.  Strangely, nobody noticed that the financial documents presented to the Board was very different than the financials presented to the PDC.  Despite resignation of the unpaid treasurer in July, nobody noticed that CastroLang continued to file hundreds of documents (including the falsified ones) under the name of the resigned treasurer.

The message to the Democrat Party faithful is,” We are not crooks, but just a bunch of clowns.”  Several challenges are created by this defense strategy, even if people believe it. First, donors, activists, and supporters who are the lifeblood of any political party are unlikely to engage if you convince them you are really this incompetent.  Secondly, the Attorney General is investigating these problems, and claims of incompetence won’t prevent the inevitable litigation and penalties. Many other committees and candidates have been charged for far less significant violations just in the past few months. Here are a few examples directly from recent Attorney General press releases – here, here, here, here, and here.  These are not happy times for those who break these laws.

New Chair Biviano – living in denial and trying to plug the leaks

Spokane County Democratic Chair Andrew Biviano has a tough job

Andrew Biviano has a tough job. Nobody should doubt this. However, the job is made more difficult when denying reality. Unfortunately, denial is in the air around the Spokane County Democrats. The first mistake was to deny any real problems, but that silly phase on the road to recovery has passed.

The more urgent problem is plugging the leaks and mitigating the damage. Based on emails sent by Biviano to his Executive Board, he is trying to convince them to “…consider what you write and whether you’d like to see it on Morgan’s blog…” and his internal emails reference this author and Daniel Walther from the Inlander – knowing that we will end up reading Andrew’s correspondence regardless. This is depressing for anyone in
Andrew’s position, but more significantly, a paranoid mole hunt won’t resolve important problems. If there are any moles inside the party, they are less likely to leak if there are fewer problems and less corruption.  The priority should be on fixing the problems not squashing internal dissent.  This only breeds paranoia.

Losing money on fundraisers and squandering cash on epic parties

Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at the Tom Foley Dinner last month while Spokane Dem Chair Biviano sits on his right. The goal was to raise funds, apparently to pay the fine that the AG will impose on the Spokane County Dems for attempting to hide their campaign dollars last year. However, it was a great party.

Lost in the drama of the AG investigation, is the significant problem the Spokane County Democrats have created in regards to fundraising. The recent Tom Foley Dinner is the

Bob Ferguson spoke at the Tom Foley Dinner last month, but it seems unlikely that he will go easy on the Spokane Dems just because they made a fawning video about him

primary fundraising event of the year for the Spokane Democrats. However, based on recent financial filings, they lost money ($1200 in the hole to be exact – assuming their reporting is exact at all). This, despite a sold out event, high profile speakers, and an $11,000 in-kind donation for a special tribute video to Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Yes, the same guy currently investigating the Spokane County Democrats for massive campaign finance violations. This was awkward because Attorney General Bob Ferguson was helping the Spokane County Democrats raise money while they were being investigated by his office for attempting to hide money from the public.

This appears to be a trend in Spokane. Not the AG investigation (at least not yet). The tendency to organize massive expenditures on fundraisers and parties that don’t help the party achieve its goals of electing Democrats appears to be a common theme. This fact was addressed in the recent Inlander article with the following quote from a local Democrat activist:

He’s (Lambert) still irritated that at that same meeting, the Democrats’ vice-chair was celebrating a 2008 election-night bash that put the party in the red.

“Fantastic election night event,” the minutes read. “Put us in the hole financially, but it was amazing.”

Lambert wants the party to spend less on election-night celebrations and more on achieving election-night wins worth celebrating.

Why would anyone (other than unions and tribes) donate money to an organization that is so wasteful with the money they receive? Why would any group trust their money to this organization when the leadership has been willing to pilfer funds from the Drumheller scholarship fund for kids and use it on epic parties and secret paychecks to Castrolang? It will take a serious sales job and years of amnesia to win back this lost trust.

The Attorney General coming around and taking names

Some events become predictable…

However, looming over the structural problems, the historic incompetence, and the current leadership chaos is the Attorney General investigation. It doesn’t look good for the Spokane County Democrats. This started as a complaint filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, however it is entirely in the hands of the Attorney General’s office, which is handling the investigation exclusively at this point. As the AG pours through two and half years of bank statements, emails, cancelled checks, and phone interviews, the truth will be harder to hide.

Biviano’s new Facebook Profile Image changed right after AG informs him he was under investigation. Nice try

Biviano is attempting to placate the Attorney General’s office in an understandable effort to reduce the seriousness of the inevitable penalties and fines. For example, the fawning $11,000 tribute video to Bob Ferguson played for Bob Ferguson at the Tom Foley Dinner (you can watch the video here). Biviano changed his Facebook profile to include Ferguson in Biviano’s profile photo, which was weird and a little creepy. Most observers believe Ferguson is planning to run for Governor in a few years. Ferguson is unlikely to trash his future political plans because a screwed up county political party tried to butter him up.

A dawning sense of dread permeates the Spokane County Democratic Party.  Leadership voted to assign $6000 for the legal defense (including $1000 for the recently “resigned” CastroLang). Someone failed to get their insurance for the directors and officers. Finally, the acceptance that legal action is coming has changed the defense strategy from denying the violations and claims of incompetence to a heroic effort to beat the “wilful and malicious” element of the violations which brings additional penalties. If they can avoid this label, it will be a serious victory.

A warning for all:  Don’t be like the Spokane Democrats

The ripple effect of this mess is only beginning. It will get worse. Even as this disaster unfolds into exposure of incompetence and corruption, there are still lessons to be learned from this political party’s nightmare. Some may watch the unfolding revelations with awe, others in secret glee, but all should realize this type of behavior is probably not unique to the Spokane County Democrats.

First, as the author of this complaint, I frequently wondered why the Republicans didn’t file this type of complaint. Theoretically, the Democrats and Republicans are political rivals in the endless partisan game of politics. To some extent the current PDC system is complaint driven and exists partly with the expectation that political rivals will hold each other accountable. While true in theory, it only matters if both sides are paying attention. This should serve as a wake up call not just to the Democrats, but also the Republicans to stay aware of their surroundings.  It isn’t enough to keep your own house in order.  It is probably wise to make sure the other guy is doing the right thing as well.

Secondly, the investigation initiated by the complaint exposed the nightmare scenario that is always possible when a largely volunteer organization abandons the basic checks and balances. The Spokane Democrats had adequate bylaws and policies that should, in theory, prevent this type of disaster from unfolding. However, those bylaws and policies are only as good as the people who are on the board and running the show. If they abandon their responsibilities, accept trust without verification, and hope for the best, this type of fiasco is ultimately inevitable. The names and the details might change, but human nature does not. If the Spokane County Democrats forget this event or pretend it is somebody else’s fault, then it will certainly happen to them again.

Finally, we may never really understand why Jim CastroLang did this to the party he claimed to love and lead. In the middle of this unfolding drama, before it became common knowledge, Jim preached a sermon titled “The Devil Made me Do it” (linked here).  To date, nobody has publicly blamed the devil, but there is something universal and timeless about the fallen nature of man. Eternal vigilance combined with a variety of checks and balances are the only way to prevent this type of event from becoming even more common. If men were angels, we wouldn’t need rules, laws, government, or political parties. It is precisely because men are not angels that we believe in the rule of law and the recognition that government should be as limited in scope, intrusiveness, and size as possible. If a local political party can be this screwed up so easily – imagine how bad things must be in our larger institutions where the stakes are much higher.

The devil indeed can make a lot of people do it, but the real lesson most political observers are repeating right now is a bit more mundane – Don’t be like the Spokane County Democrats…

It appears the Spokane County Democrats are adrift for a while

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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 articles about Spokane County Democrat Complaints

The Devil made them do it – Spokane Democrats in serious legal trouble – March 24

The Inlander -April 13 – “Dems in Disarray” 

The Inlander -April 14 – “Drumheller No!  Spokane County Dems used scholarship money for operations, leaving some members irate”

The Inlander – April 17 – “Unreported poll previewed a Condon vs. Stuckart mayoral battle than never was”

Spokesman Review – Western Washington Political Activist alleges financial disclosure violations on Spokane Democrats

Redoubt News – CastroLang and Spokane Dems violated Campaign Finance Laws?

Original Complaint filed against the SCDCC – March 16, 2017

Jim CastroLang sermon – “The Devil Made me do it” Feb 14, 2016

Daily Mail – Democratic Legislative Candidate revealed as former Playmate who posed for “Women of the Ivy League” spread when she was at Yale

Flashback – New York Times – Racial Slur Causes political turmoil for Democrats in Northwest

 

Recent AG lawsuits and other pending complaints:

AG – April 10 – AG files campaign finance complaints against two Democrat legislators and one failed Democrat Candidate

AG – AG files campaign finance complaints against Sam Hunt and Thurston Democrats

March 6, 2017 – AG lawsuit against Thurston County Democrats (Thurston Superior Court #17-2-00972-34)

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

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

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

Tacoma News Tribune – House Speaker hit with campaign finance complaint in growing tug of war

AG – Chopp to pay $6469 over campaign finance violations

Tacoma News Tribune editorial – Stop the PDC from becoming the Petty Complaint Department

The Olympian – Speaker Chopp earned his fine

Seattle PI – Speaker Chopp will pay $6,469 in penalties for campaign reporting violations

Seattle Times – Frank Chopp pays $1700 fine over campaign finance violations

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

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

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

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

More Background articles on Attorney General lawsuits:

AGO Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against 19th District House Candidate

AGO 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

Thurston County goes Independent, first time in state history

The Olympian – “Everybody is in violation of the PDC” says activist as the Attorney General files complaints

The Hirst Heist and our diminishing legislature

Futurewise has a plan to steal our water - who needs legislators when you can control the judges?

On October 6, 2016,  Futurewise, with the assistance of six Washington State Supreme Court Justices, managed to win the lawsuit lottery.  The Supreme Court ruled in Hirst v. W. Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (decision linked here) on a 6-3 vote in favor of Futurewise and against the people.  This ruling invented new land use rules approved by no legislature or elected official.  This litigious and aggressive environmental NGO funded by wealthy Seattle donors was able to end the historic private well exemption.   Instantly, tens of thousands of private landowners lost their ability to build a home, raise a family, or live independently.

While Futurewise, the Sierra Club, CELP, and Washington State’s Native Tribes celebrated the harm and suffering they had inflicted on the rest of the state, serious elected officials, farmers, property owners, and rural residents of the state struggled to find a rational work-around to an irrational policy prescription invented by six judges.  We wrote extensively about this situation here.  To quote from the dissent written by Justice Stephens:

“THE MAJORITY’S DECISION HINGES ON AN INTERPRETATION OF RCW 19.27.097 THAT IS UNSUPPORTED BY THE PLAIN LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE, PRECEDENT, OR COMMON SENSE.”

Average Citizens know the scales of justice in the Washington Court System are tilted in favor of special litigation interests like Futurewise

Our elected legislature weakly responds

Most observers were caught flat-footed by the Hirst decision.  Partly, this was because the envisioned result demanded by Futurewise seemed so absurd, partly because Futurewise lost at the appellate court level, and partly because nobody realized just how truly out of touch and unlettered in the separation of powers doctrine the majority of the Washington State Supreme Court had become.  People more familiar with water law and the strong financial forces supporting the Greenish agenda were expressing some concern, but they were voices in the wilderness.  Many had been warning of this scenario after localized efforts in Skagit, Kittitas, and the Dungeness Watershed were testing this model of stealing historic water rights.  After last October, the apathetic have began to wake up.

A majority of the Washington State Supreme Court is happy to surrender your freedom and your future

Many elected officials heard from constituents who could no longer build their homes on land they had purchased and saved money to build for many years.  In some instances, local residents got on their knees and begged their local officials and state legislature to fix this problem.  Initially, a flurry of legislation was offered to “fix Hirst.”  Some were genuine fixes which entirely reversed this harmful ruling like this one and this one.   Some were intended to muddy the waters more and create new layers of confusion.  Some were intended as compromise “solutions” that would kick the problem down the road for a few years and still allow some private wells under certain limited conditions.  The State Senate was able to pass out a bill like this here.

The Washington State Democratic Caucus refuses to help restore sanity

However, it has become clear that, with a few notable exceptions, the Democratic caucus is not willing to fix the Hirst decision.  While they weren’t brave enough to sponsor a bill to destroy the lives of rural residents, they are happy to outsource their jobs and let the Supreme Court do the dirty work for them.  The Futurewise donor base will surely reward them. This positions the Democrat caucus to create legislative“fixes” that are truly harmful and strongly resemble the wish lists of Governor Inslee, the Department of Ecology, and the Environmental Cartel.  Some Republicans believed in creating a compromise solution along the way – desperate to at least give the impression of passing a bill (any bill!) to “fix” Hirst.

A message from Futurewise

Compromise has failed and lacking the will for a massive political battle, a fix will not happen with the far more disciplined Democrats.  An uncompromising Republican battle to restore exempt well water rights is needed now.  Other issues may remain unresolved and the crumbs of bills granted by Speaker Chopp may not pass with such a strategy, but thousands of angry and disappointed Washington state citizens happen to think their water and property rights are worth the political fight.  Those rights should take priority in the legislature over the many silly and serious bills that have passed on a fast track flurry of legislative action.

This is the nature of the legislative process, and if you don’t want to know how the sausage is made, you may want to look the other way.  It isn’t a perfect system, and few expect it to be simple.  However, lost in the back and forth of amendments, vote counts, bill drafts, and hearings is a much more fundamental problem.   Our elected officials are diminishing in significance as they take a back seat to law making by judges and agency bureaucrats.

Elected officials are less consequential than judges

This partisan fight becomes less consequential when the judges prove they run the show

People often decry the fact that the political process has become awash in cash from campaign donations and lobbying budgets.  This is a rational outcome of the relentless growth of government into wider aspects of people’s lives.  Nobody can live without government dictating to them almost every element of how they live their lives.  The tentacles of bureaucracy touch everything.  Corporations, special interests, and powerful people have great incentive to influence this process to their benefit or to support their cause.  Politicians don’t mind because it ensures they can command lots of cash for their campaigns and get the attention they crave.  However, politicians have largely become figureheads in policy battles as exposed by the recent Hirst decision.

Theoretically, we can remove our elected officials and replace them with new people if we don’t like the direction government is taking.  This is a real problem for special interests who are achieving their goals with the system that currently exists.  In order to reduce the impact or value of uncertain elections, it is important to use alternative, more stable means to influence policy.  Hence, the logical path is to focus on influencing and controlling bureaucracy and the judicial system.

If you can’t get elected officials to support your policy goals through legislation, then the next most logical path is to focus on litigation.  However, the pesky problem of the constitution, case law, and judges who can read must be overcome.  Since Washington State elects judges, then these policy outcomes can be achieved by electing judges who are willing to ignore the constitution, flout common sense, and deny history in order to stretch and invent the desired policy of special interests like Futurewise.  This is why Futurewise so wisely spends their resources on the lawsuit lottery filing over 300 lawsuits against local government in order to obtain outcomes like the recent Hirst decision.

It is far cheaper to buy a judgement than elect a friendly legislature

Who needs state senators, legislators, or commissioners if you can just control a handful of judges in black robes?  This is indeed a wise use of donor cash, and most of the people who oppose the hostile policies of Futurewise, the Sierra Club, and tribes like the Swinomish are late to the party.  They are pleading with our elected officials to “fix” Hirst, not realizing that the majority of our elected officials have long ago ceded their power to a handful of judges.  Policy, it appears, will no longer be written by the legislators, but by the Black Robed in the Hall of Justice.  This is the outcome demanded by the donors who support the “environmental” agenda?  They really want, as Hirst dictates, thousands of families to suffer, and it doesn’t matter that these families use less than 1% of the water in Washington State.

Any bill – give me any bill – compromise and desperation

Everyone wants to get their piece of the water game

Politicians make promises to their constituents.  However, politics is often the art of compromise, and the process of drafting a solution is messy.  Unfortunately, most people won’t dig into the details, so they tend to only look at the headlines.  This is understandably part of human nature.  However, the process of amending bills and “fixing” problems means that those with the the most experience, access, and best threats will have the most influence on this process.

Behind the scenes, government agencies (like the Department of Ecology) have a lot more

Hoping for Cash Windfall from Hirst

sway on the policy drafts that come out of the legislature.  These agencies are always looking for opportunities to expand their budget, power, and mandate, so a manufactured “crisis” like Hirst is a golden opportunity for the Department of Ecology to expand their operations.  This is why they have demanded a lot of cash to grow their agency to “fix” or “address” Hirst.  Meanwhile, if anyone actually pays attention to the bureaucrats who work at the Department of Ecology, they would realize that the Hirst decision is not something they oppose.  The messier and more confusing the better for them.  This is the perfect opportunity to grow their budget.

Meanwhile, as the celebration winds down at Futurewise, Sierra Club, CELP, and the Tribal Casinos for the damaging and cheap victory they won with the Hirst decision, the environmental cartel is able to come back and threaten further litigation against any local government that dares to oppose their agenda.   These threats are taken seriously because the Supreme Court is heavily influenced by Futurewise and their big donors.  No rational person would trust their fate to those judges, so the tendency to cave in is very strong and understandable.

The current political plan is to kick the can down the road until the Washington State Supreme Court makes another crazy ruling

There are politicians in Olympia who genuinely want change, but the solution is murky to most of them.  The halls of Olympia are not filled with elected officials who are experts on water law, and they generally believe what they are told by “experts” who are often the very agencies who have created the confusing and messy circumstances of law and policy.  Politicians know they need to “fix” this problem, particularly if they represent rural constituents.  They are under a lot of pressure to do “something.”

Mitigation schemes, kick it down the road and hope for the best

This is the perfect opening for more special interests to take advantage of the situation.  Knowing that most of the Democratic Caucus in both chambers are happy to destroy the lives of rural people, the real decision making and negotiation is made on the Republican side of the aisle with a few swing Democrats involved for bipartisan flavor.  Since Republicans barely control the state senate, and are only a few votes shy in the House, even a change of heart or stiffening of the spine by a few politicians makes a big difference in the final outcome.  At the same time, Futurewise and the environmental cartel only need to threaten and cower a couple of politicians to create the desired negative impact.

This is one person definately NOT represented in this political fight

Special interests generally opposed to the extermination of exempt well water rights like farming interests, developers and real estate agents have been very engaged in this process, but each of them have a natural willingness to compromise based on their member’s interests.  Some commercial farming interests see the Hirst decision as an opportunity to profit from the harm inflicted on their neighbors because they can sell some of their excess capacity water rights for big cash.  Generally,  big developers want the ability to negotiate mitigation schemes so that they can build and sell their homes, but they tend to be less concerned about the individual private property impact or the potential cost overhead impact to the average new homeowners.  Real Estate agents understandably want the ability for people to buy and sell homes, and they have tended to side most frequently with the concerns for property rights like Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) on these issues.

“Mitigation” schemes are being pushed. There is a lot of cash in these scams for special interests willing to play

Since most people impacted by this recent court case are not yet aware of the harm caused by Hirst, the full anger and impact has not yet been felt by the elected officials.  Average citizens are only slowly awakening to how their future has been sold to the highest bidder by Six People in Black Robes.  The lack of awareness about the depth of this complicated decision is helping Futurewise, the Sierra Club, and the Tribes move quickly to consolidate the gains they obtained at the State Supreme Court and move to their next set of agendas – effectuating the need for mitigation schemes, metering all existing private wells, creating water banks (or “trusts”), and ensuring that only the wealthy and politically connected can live rurally.

A slow motion train wreck

Futurewise and other members of Gang Green are laughing

Every day a property owner discovers, one family disaster at a time, that their dreams of living independently or more rurally have been destroyed by unaccountable judges, bureaucrats, and special interests.    The wealthy donors to Futurewise and Sierra Club celebrate the harm they have inflicted on rural communities.  Farmers, builders, and municipalities try to seek exemptions or bless their good fortune that the supreme court didn’t destroy them this time – rarely aware that they are next on the target list at some future date with the collusion of a few Black Robes.  And just as rural people have always cautioned when asking for help and understanding in past regulatory takings, the warning is given to urban people; when they are finished ruining our lives and stealing our freedoms, they will come and take yours.  For government agencies and Gang Green, it will never be enough.

Politicians in Olympia are understandably desperate and flailing

Meanwhile our elected officials flounder in confusion, never realizing how their failures are only reducing their importance and significance to the people who worked so hard to elect them to office.  Political impotence is never pretty.  The checks and balances are not working.  A few Black Robes rule Olympia – everyone else is just a supporting character in a tragic play.  Futurewise and other wealthy special interests – the environmental cartel have wisely figured out long ago – if you own the judges then you own the state – everyone else is just background noise and bit players on the stage.  Freedom will continue to die one legal ruling at a time until the people and our elected officials wake up to this stark reality…and stand firm in their belief and willingness to fight for individual liberties and property rights.  Compromise will not work this time…

(Cindy Alia, from Citizens Alliance for Property Rights contributed to this article as well)

For citizens who want to restore their Freedoms and access to water, Heaven may be the only place where anyone is listening

This article has also been reposted on the Citizen’s Alliance for Property Rights blog site here.

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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

Referenced Source Documents:

Washington State Supreme Court Decision (including Dissent) Hirst v.  W. Washington Hearings Board – Oct 6, 2016

If link to Supreme Court is down or they hide the case, you can also download it here

HB 1348 – Proposed bill in house which would fix Hirst

HB 1349 – Another proposed bill which would fix Hirst

SB 5239 – Senate bill which did pass Senate only – which would partly, temporarily address Hirst (passed on mostly partisan vote)

Spokane County Public Notice regarding Hirst Decision

Whatcom County temporary response to Hirst Decision

Western Water Law and Policy Reporter (May 2015):  article after Futurewise lost in appeals – interesting reference before Supreme Court Decision

Other Commentary on Hirst Decision:

Hirst Decision by supreme court unleashes the wrath of Futurewise upon property owners

Seattle Times Opinion:  Fix Cout Decision:  Property Without Water is Worthless

Capital Press:  Fallout over Water Ruling Heats up in Washington

The Lens:  Potential “Hirst Fix” passes Washington State Senate

Futurewise Press Release about Hirst

Capital Press:  Washington Supreme Court casts doubt on new wells

Washington Policy Center:  Washington Supreme Court takes the liberty to make a policy decision it should not have made

Other Background articles:

Whatcom County Planning Director hired by City of Bellingham (before he filed lawsuit against Whatcom County)

Gang Green and the Government Staff Infection

Stifling Human Ingenuity 

The day the “Crap Tax” died

Three new independant commissioners in Thurston County. (L-R) John Hutchings, Bud Blake, Gary Edwards

“What a difference an election can make” said one Thurston County resident as he departed the Tuesday evening Thurston County Commission public hearing. “I’m not used to having elected officials actually do what they promised to do and listen to me.”  

We wrote about the Thurston County, Washington State “Crap Tax” which was a tax imposed on septic tanks last year in the waning weeks of the Romero/Wolfe Commission.  It was passed in December after they knew their chosen successors had lost their election efforts. Five months later it is now history.  

It was a full room with attendees testifying both against and for repeal of the Crap Tax

The public hearing included a room full of people speaking both in favor of the repeal and against the repeal.  As expected, the people who attended the hearing and spoke in favor of the repeal lived on properties where they had septic systems.  They pointed out that today’s $10 “fee” would become tomorrow’s $100 “fee” just like car tabs.   Another argument against the Crap Tax was the fact it only went to increase bureaucracy.  It would not improve the environment.  Finally, local residents were better stewards of their own property than remote bureaucrats.

Dead Spirits, Tribal Consultants, and Former Politicians Support More Taxes

Former Olympia Councilwoman Holly Gadbaw tried to convince Commissioners to break their campaign promises

Most of the people speaking in favor of the Crap Tax were people who lived in the City of Olympia.  This included one former Olympia City Councilwoman Holly Gadbaw who spoke eloquently about how other people should pay taxes she supports.  Holly was also concerned about the Thurston County Commissioners revisiting the entire septic management program for Thurston County and she wanted them to ignore their campaign promises to repeal the tax.

This paid consultant from Mason County represented the Squaxin Island Tribe who wanted others to pay the Crap Tax

While various people made a variety of comments on either the pro-tax or anti-tax side of the debate, two other testimonies stood out.  One Olympia resident claimed that she was speaking on behalf of a dead friend of hers who once lived at a home that used a septic tank.  This person then claimed to channel her dead friend and said he would support paying this tax if he were still alive.  This testimony was not very persuasive.  The other interesting testimony was a paid consultant from Mason County who spoke for the Squaxin Island Tribe.  She claimed Thurston County for the Squaxin Island Indian Tribe because it was their traditional hunting ground. She assured everyone that the Squaxin Island Indian Tribe really wanted the residents of Thurston County to pay this tax.  

Despite the dead spirits who would love to pay these taxes if they were still alive, despite the sacred nature of the Squaxin Island Tribe’s desire to impose a tax on other people, and despite the pleas of the former Olympia City Councilwoman Holly Gadbaw, the Thurston County Commissioners voted to repeal the Crap Tax.  After the vote, widespread applause came from the audience with some of the City residents who supported the tax remaining quiet.  

The “Crap Tax” is Dead

Tuesday night contained no high political drama.  It was just another public hearing in another local community where a small fraction of the population bothers to speak to their elected officials, but it was a clear demonstration that elections do have consequences – both great and small.  Commissioners Hutchings and Edwards ran on a platform of repealing this tax.  Commissioner Blake voted against the tax when it was passed last year.  Tuesday night’s repeal vote was unanimous.  This was one campaign promise fulfilled with more likely to come.  

Thurston County has changed, but it will be up to the people who voted for these commissioners to continue to communicate with them. Continue to support the Commissioners when they do the right thing.  Encourage them to do more, and let them know if they make mistakes.  Tuesday night was another demonstration that the future belongs to those who show up.

The repeal of the Crap Tax isn’t the only thing that has changed in Thurston County. Posters of the Pledge of Allegiance, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution now hang in the main meeting room – another fulfilled campaign promise

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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

Related Articles:

Thurston County Discovers new Cash Cow in Crap Tax

The Olympian – Thurston County Commissioners ask for public health director’s resignation

Thurston County goes independant – First time in state history

The Truth about Jim Cooper

Thurston County Invents $42,000 pocket gopher tax for new homeowners

Thurston County Manager Cliff Moore quits, will now plague the City of Yakima

Thurston County punishes rural serfs again

Sandra Romero – the $200 million Commissioner

Thurston County discovers new cash cow in crap tax

Thurston County spends $18million and 18 years to make a $4million empty building worth $2million

A Plague of Consequences in Thurston County

Thurston County Bag Ban – Paper or Plastic?

Stifling Human Ingenuity

Thurston County to Citizens:  Living here is a real gamble

Childish Political Leadership in Thurston County is costing Taxpayers Millions

Thurston County Demonstrates How Not to Build a Jail

Silence of the Gophers

Under a dark canopy of fir trees lie a blanket of moss and decomposing needles.  Scattered across this dark forest floor are hundreds of pocket gopher skulls and bones in a timeless scene only nature can create.  Based on the location and detritus, it appears that many generations of owls have flourished in this young stand of trees,

Pocket Gophers Are Now Taxed
Thurston County is infested with Pocket Gophers

nourished by the large population of nearby pocket gophers and other rodents.  Normally, this would just be another example of the natural cycle of life.  Perhaps this would be a scene that a biology professor would explore with students.  However, in south Thurston County, Washington State, these pocket gopher bones have become a symbol of the harm inflicted by the Endangered Species Act and the detachment from reality of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

USFWS office – Lacey, WA

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) the Mazama Pocket Gopher found in Thurston County is an endangered species, at risk of extinction.  Over the last few years, the USFWS has created a matrix of local planning rules (with the enthusiastic support of local bureaucrats and environmental groups) that have prevented people from building homes, school districts from adding classrooms, and local residents accessing their own property.  The USFWS claims the presence of humans will harm the pocket gopher and cause this rodent to go extinct.  Many regulations have been imposed by local Central Planners – including a $42,000 pocket gopher tax on new homeowners. There has been local resistance to these restrictions, but the USFWS tells locals that resistance is futile.

Outside the USFWS offices in Lacey, WA, pocket gophers also flourish- ensuring job security for these government employees

The regional office for the USFWS is located in Lacey, Washington between the Washington State Department of Ecology and St. Martin’s University.  Towering over their locked and secure offices are large Douglas fir trees.  The biologists who work at USFWS have reluctantly admitted these endangered pocket gophers also live in the grass and fields next door to their offices.  This inconvenient truth is glossed over by those who profit from the endangered gopher narrative.  

First, the government tried to exterminate the gopher

The pocket gopher has a long history of being labelled as a pest by the Federal government for many decades.  From the 1940s until the recent 1990s, the US Department of Agriculture had funded bounty programs attempting to exterminate this pocket gopher using poison and traps in Thurston County.  After 50 years of studies and government funded extermination efforts, the USDA concluded that the pocket gopher was virtually invincible and impossible to eradicate.  Most of their documented efforts around the country and in Thurston County proved that, while these control efforts might have a temporary impact, even small populations of gophers would expand their numbers rapidly.  Beyond Thurston County,  government funded efforts to exterminate the gopher continue around the country (See USDA source documents linked at the end of this article).

Gophers thrive on artillery ranges, airports, and amidst volcanic eruptions

At Ft. Lewis, it is unhealthy to wander around the artillery impact zone, but gophers thrive here among the churned, destroyed, and charred ground.

Recent habitat studies support the USDA conclusions.  In the nearby Ft. Lewis/McChord army base, the largest documented concentrated population of pocket gophers was found to be thriving in the middle of the artillery impact zone.  These thousands of acres have been regularly destroyed, bombed, burned and pulverized for over 100 years since World War I.   Despite being the most impacted piece of land in Washington State, the USFWS “scientists” and bureaucrats argue – usually with a straight face- that pocket gophers must be protected from human action like a tractor driving in a field, installing fence posts, irrigation, kids riding their bicycles, family pets, building a big toy in a back yard, and tree planting.  At the 2014 “public hearing” in which all the people, including biologists, who spoke against the listing were ignored,  the USFWS even claimed that agricultural activities could only be allowed during the months from November – March, under the belief that crops could be grown in the snow and the “agricultural activities” wouldn’t then impact the precious gopher during the summer and fall seasons.  

Even the eruption of Mt. St. Helens wasn’t enough to exterminate the pocket gopher

In addition to flourishing amidst the artillery barrages at Ft. Lewis,  this endangered gopher also thrives at the Olympia Regional airport, along Highway and Freeway easements, and in many other places where agricultural activities occur.  In a famous documentary produced in Washington State after the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980, which had the force and impact of a major nuclear bomb destroying all animal and plant life for miles the first animal to appear from underneath the blanket of ash was the pocket gopher.  

Local control attacked by USFWS, politicians thrown out,  now threats of “sue & settle lawsuits”

Former Commissioner Romero did her best to harm the residents of Thurston County by giving USFWS control over local planning.

Eventually the gopher was listed as “threatened” by the USFWS.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, the USFWS was able to suppress a rebuttal effort by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) which was critical of the USFWS claims, but the listing proceeded just as the USFWS promised it would.  However, along the way, the USFWS was able to take advantage of an opportunity to completely take control of all land use policy in Thurston County.  This circumstance was enabled by the actions of three exceptionally incompetent county commissioners (Sandra Romero, Kathy Wolfe, and Karen Valenzuela). Additionally, planning staff at Thurston County eagerly sold themselves for Federal grant dollars.  With county government support, USFWS was able to implement their plan on Thurston County.

Ken Berg
USFWS Lacey, WA Director Ken Berg (on right) gets environmental award in Thurston County before he left the state

Eventually the patience of the local residents of Thurston County ran out.  All three of the commissioners who cheered the USFWS’s schemes were defeated at the ballot box or they quit.  Hand-picked successors were also defeated in the recent elections.  Many of the senior bureaucrats from the USFWS including former local director Ken Berg abandoned Thurston County so they didn’t have to live under the rules they were imposing on their former neighbors.  Similarly, many senior Thurston County central planner bureaucrats instrumental in imposing this destruction on their former communities also left including Don Krupp (currently County Manager in Clackamas County, Oregon), Cliff Moore (now City Manager in Yakima, Washington), and Scott Clark (moved to Arizona), among others.

Regular meetings like this are occurring in Thurston County as the new Commissioners work to extract the county from control by the USFWS agents (seated on right with backs to the audience)

The new Thurston County Commissioners are all on the record strongly opposed to the habitat mitigation gopher tax scheme imposed by USFWS through the Federally funded planning bureaucrats “employed” by Thurston County (but actually paid by Federal grant dollars through USFWS).  It was clear that voters of Thurston County are fed up by the gopher mania and ignorance on display by bureaucrats and zealous environmentalists who avoid the consequences of the damage they do to their neighbors.  To the bureaucrat, a $42,000 gopher tax bill for every home is perfectly reasonable.  Meanwhile hundreds of people in Thurston County can’t build their home, remodel their home, or live on their land.  One upset resident has threatened a hunger strike.  Most are just disgusted by the bureaucrats that have stalled or destroyed their dreams

USFWS doesn’t care.  They never have.  When asked how many gophers live in Thurston County, they can’t say.  When asked how may gophers in Thurston County would be considered “restored” they can’t say.  They won’t say.  USFWS bureaucrats refuse to pick a tangible number to which they can be held accountable.  If no goal is set, then they don’t have to worry about successfully “restoring” the gopher, and like they admitted, it isn’t about saving the pocket gopher anyway.  They do care about their budget and expanding their power.  They do care about making sure that they can set up the circumstances for more “sue and settle” lawsuits by environmental groups like Wild Earth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, and others to sue the government, thus allowing the government to make a secret cash settlement and “agree” to some new nest of arbitrary rules never approved by any elected official.   The USFWS can then hold up their hands and say “not our fault, give them your money.”  This is the scam, and Thurston County isn’t the first place this con has been played.  

USFWS – A long history of fake science

US Fish and Wildlife Service in action

The USFWS now exists primarily to push fake science.  Many scandals about “endangered” species abound in the United States.  In Eastern Washington, the White Bluffs Bladderpod incident was classic.  This was a common plant that the USFWS claimed was endangered.  As is their style, the USFWS refused to commit an act of science to justify their claims.  Instead, an agricultural group took plant samples and hired independant 3rd party scientists to evaluate the DNA of the “White Bluffs Bladderpod” only to find it is a common weed found in 7 western states.  The truth doesn’t matter to the USFWS, they are listing the plant anyway and the local property owners will be denied access to or use of their lands.  This is how USFWS operates.

The hapless Thurston County pocket gopher is a similar story.  A series of well-researched articles was written a few years ago by a local researcher named Melissa Genson exposing much of the fraud and incompetence behind the gopher madness.  It is hard to dispute the

This is the one sure method to produce excellent pocket gopher habitat

facts and the silliness of the current state of the pocket gopher scam in this community.  To many local residents, the term “pocket gopher” has begun to symbolize the incompetence and dishonesty of government, and this is why new county commissioners have been elected.  While the USFWS arrests local residents who trap a gopher and charge them with felonies – a few miles away, the owls are creating a veritable gopher holocaust.  Yet, somehow this gopher thrives in nearby yards, fields, and on the artillery impact range at Ft. Lewis.  

A strong case for eliminating the USFWS, restore local control

Many people are learning that the USFWS is out of control. This is a billboard in North Carolina

An effort to reorganize the Federal bureaucracy is beginning in Washington DC.  There is understandable skepticism that this process can be successful.  However, opportunities are created by the incompetence and corruption of government agencies and departments like the USFWS.  The USFWS exists under the department of the Interior.  However, this agency is almost entirely redundant.  Every state has an equivalent state agency that does basically the same function – manage wildlife, and they are far more effective and more likely to be aware of local problems and needs.  Secondly, the USFWS manages and supervises a variety of wildlife refuges around the nation.  These could easily be transferred to the states and managed more cost effectively and responsibly by the local agencies.  Finally, the USFWS has a group of specialists who focus on the inspecting and managing the importation of specialized items involving endangered species and related products.  This department’s employees and skills could be transferred to the Customs Department.

This change could also begin the process to clean up the corrupt sue and settle schemes that are widely directed by the USFWS today and operate as legal kickback schemes to their accomplices in the environmentalist scene.  Restoring local control over the natural resources will ensure a more rational approach to both protecting species and supporting local communities.  State agencies and local government will be less likely to apply a one size fits all top-down approach to solving local challenges.  Property owners could be rewarded for creating the natural habitat where endangered species can survive rather than be punished for being good stewards of their land.  Perhaps, without the USFWS pushing politicized fake science, real science could once again be used to study and understand unique and rare animals.  Perhaps this energy and these resources could be directed at animals that don’t thrive in artillery impact zones.  

Citizen stands outside pocket gopher hearing in Thurston County

Although it may cost the jobs of some Federal bureaucrats, strengthened state wildlife services would ensure a more rational and local approach to protecting wildlife.  Until that time, Thurston County Commissioners fight back against the dream-devouring Leviathan of the USFWS.  Until that time, local residents watch their dreams of homeownership die, schools remain crowded, trees go unplanted, and the frustration with the incompetence of government grows.  Environmentalist cheer the harm they inflict on their fellow man while hoping for a cash payout in their future lawsuit.  A hunger strike begins.  The gophers continue to thrive and die by the thousands in the talons of the owls, in the dark quiet of the woods, the silence of the gophers…

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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

Related Background Articles about Pocket Gophers in Thurston County:

Thurston County invents a new $42,000 pocket gopher tax for new homeowners

Gophers, Artillery, and US Fish and Wildlife

Gopher wins ESA Listing Based on Genitalia Size

Can a Well-Endowed “Endangered” Gopher Really Drive a Tractor?

Shooting Owls, Counting Slugs, and Fighting Evolution, USFWS hard at work.

Washington State Protects Gophers Better than Cops, Citizens

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature Behind Pocket Gopher Hoax

Secret Gopher Map Reveals Washington Agency’s Power

Government Claims About Pocket Gopher Protection Remain Flawed

Outdated Essays on Pocket Gophers Reveal Lack of Evidence for ESA Listing

Washington State Fish and Wildlife “FAQ” sheet about pocket gophers

The Olympian – Thurston County Couple at wit’s end over county delaying new home

Tri-City Herald – Endangered claim for White Bluffs Bladderpod questioned

South Thurston Journal – The Great Gopher Hoax – How I Uncovered the ESA fraud

Sue and Settle – Regulating Behind Closed Doors

Environmental Groups keep suing – despite vast ESA settlement agreements

USDA and other Federal Govt Source Documents about efforts to eradicate pocket gophers

2017- USDA – “Identifying possible alternative rodenticide baits to replace strychnine baits for pocket gophers in California”

2000- USDA – “Integrated management tactics for predicting and alleviating pocket gopher (Thomomys spp.) damage to conifer reforestation plantings”

1999- USDA’ -“Trapping Considerations for the Fossorial Pocket Gopher”

1992- USDA – “SUMMARY OF A USDA FOREST SERVICE POCKET GOPHER TRAPPING CONTRACT”

1992- USDA presentation – “FIELD EFFICACY EVALUATION OF DIPHACINONE PARAFFIN BAIT BLOCKS AND STRYCHNINE OAT GROATS FOR CONTROL OF FOREST POCKET GOPHERS”

1990- USDA presentation – “ANIMAL DAMAGE PROBLEMS AND CONTROL ACTIVITIES ON NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM LANDS”

1990 – USDA presentation – “REPRODUCTION AND POPULATION STRUCTURE OF POCKET GOPHERS FROM IRRIGATED ALFALFA FIELDS”

1990 -Proceedings of the Fourteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference – “ACQUIRED STRYCHNINE TOLERANCE BY POCKET GOPHERS”

1990 -Proceedings of the Fourteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference-“A COMPARISON OF SEVERAL POCKET GOPHER BAITS IN THE FIELD”

1984 – USFWS presentation -“HAZARDS TO GOLDEN-MANTLED GROUND SQUIRRELS AND ASSOCIATED SECONDARY HAZARD POTENTIAL FROM STRYCHNINE FOR FOREST SECONDARY POCKET GOPHERS”

1982 – USFWS presentation – “EVALUATION OF ZINC PHOSPHIDE BAIT FOR POCKET GOPHER CONTROL ON FOREST LAND”

1980 – USFWS presentation – “HAZARDS TO SMALL MAMMALS ASSOCIATED WITH UNDERGROUND STRYCHNINE BAITING FOR POCKET GOPHERS”

1978 – USFWS presentation – “”VEXAR” PLASTIC NETTING TO REDUCE POCKET GOPHER DEPREDATION OF CONIFER SEEDLINGS”

1976 – US Forest Service presentation – “INCREASING POCKET GOPHER PROBLEMS IN REFORESTATION”

1970 – US Forest Service presentation – “POCKET GOPHER PROBLEMS AND CONTROL PRACTICES ON NATIONAL FOREST LANDS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGION”

1962 – Proceedings of the 1st Vertebrate Pest Conference- “CONTROL OF POCKET GOPHERS”

The Devil made them do it – Spokane Democrat Party in serious legal trouble

Andrew Biviano is still in denial about the seriousness of the charges against the Spokane County Democratic Party

Last Friday, the Spokane County Democrats received a Public Disclosure Commission complaint about serious campaign finance violations.  The initial response by the newly elected Spokane County Democrat Chair Andrew Biviano was to deny any wrongdoing and reassure the members that all was well.  His statement couldn’t be more wrong.  Donors and Democratic Party members should be worried.

It is true that a complaint filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) can allege anything. This doesn’t make the claims true.  However, as the author of this complaint, I will point out that every allegation is based on records either filed with the PDC or as exhibits attached to the complaint itself.  These are easy to review and verify (see original complaint linked here).  In summary, these are the allegations in this complaint, and all are supported by the documents provided or found in the public record:

1). Elected Chair and paid Executive Director and acting Treasurer Jim CastroLang Falsified C4 expenditure reports to hide Spokane County Democratic Central Committee (SCDCC) payments of at least $17,260.36 to himself from the PDC.  (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235, .750(2)(c))

2). Failure to accurately report large donations, attempt to hide large donations, attempt to disguise and hide overlimit donations from PDC, and failure to return overlimit donations (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235, .705(2)(c))  – This included hiding a $5000 donation from the WEA, hiding multiple overlimit donations from the Spokane Firefighters, and hiding $3000 of a donation from the Spokane Tribe.  

3). Failure to register political committee, illegally “borrowing” funds from unregistered political committee, failure to report $7000 of debt (Violation of RCW 42.17A.240, .705(2)(c)).

4). Failure to timely file C3 contribution forms (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235).  From January 11 to August 22, 2016 zero reports were filed.  Later 161 late reports were filed – many over 200 days late. This included just under $100,000 of donations reported extremely late, and inaccurately (see#2 above).

5). Failure to timely file C4 expenditure forms. (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235).  Again, from January 11 to August 22, 2016 zero expenditure reports were filed.  Of the 14 reports filed in 2016, only two were filed on time.  Included about $100,000 in expenditures (and inaccurate anyway – see #1 above).

6). Knowingly Filed with willful malice at least 208 forged documents with the Public Disclosure Commission (Violation of RCW 42.17A.750(2)(c), .240, .235).  Jim CastroLang filed all these documents using the name of a previous Treasurer who had resigned long before CastroLang filed these documents.

7). Failure to Update corrected C1PC form within 10 days of change (Violation of RCW 42.17A.205(4), .750).

8). Failure to list all members of the political committee on C1PC form. (Violation of RCW 42.17A.205 (2)(c), see WAC 390-05-245).

9). Failure to accurately file expenditure reports (C4) by deadline. (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235).  This details the various problems in 2015 with late and inaccurate expenditure reports.

10). Failure to accurately file contribution reports (C3) by deadline. (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235).  

There were additional violations made by the Spokane County Democratic Central Committee during these years, but the volume of the already documented violations seemed significant enough that additional detail was merely repetitive.

Jim CastroLang is the pastor for the Colville United Church of Christ while also part time paid Democratic Party operative

How Pastor Jim CastroLang got here

The title for Pastor CastroLang’s sermon, which seems appropriate

The pivotal actor in these violations was the former elected Chair of the Spokane County Democrats Jim CastroLang. He was elected in 2013 and again in 2015 and remained chair until late January 2017.  CastroLang is a part time pastor at a Colville United Church of Christ congregation, and has recorded sermons (like this one titled “The Devil Made Me Do it”).  CastroLang was able to convince the Spokane Democrats executive board to hire him part time for approximately $2000 per month to be a paid “executive director.”  This pay started in September of 2015.  It is not common for county level political parties to hire staff like this (Republican or Democrat).  While unusual, this is not illegal under Washington State’s campaign finance laws.  However, it is illegal to hide the payments made to employees.

Jim CastroLang juggles many responsibilities in addition to filing false information to the PDC

By late 2015, the Spokane County Democrats were regularly violating the campaign finance laws with late and inaccurate filings.  These violations were already more significant than any of the violations which have recently triggered lawsuits by Attorney General Bob Ferguson against Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, Senator Sam Hunt, the Thurston County Democrats, Theresa Purcell, Jim Cooper,  or Secretary of State Kim Wyman.  However, rather than improving the professionalism or growth of the Spokane County Party, compliance by the SCDCC with campaign finance laws degraded.  In 2016, the lack of compliance descended to what appears to be a malicious and intentional effort to deceive the PDC and the public.

It is unclear if the Spokane County Democrat Executive Board fully knew about CastroLang’s decisions to hide his personal payments from the PDC filings and also hide significant donations from the WEA, the Spokane Firefighters Union, and the Spokane Tribe, among others.  According to SCDCC minutes from 2016, it appears that CastroLang would report semi-accurate information to the executive board, but would falsify the documents filed with the PDC.  After the Spokane Democrat Party Treasurer, Justin Galloway, officially resigned in July of 2016, CastroLang failed to update any paperwork with the PDC, and began filing all official reports under Galloway’s name – over 208 of them, which is clearly against the law.

While CastroLang hid most of the payments made to himself from the public and the PDC, he did report on some of the money taken out of his paycheck for taxes and L&I.  It took purposeful effort and wilful action to file reports hiding this financial information from the public.  During 2016, it also appears, according to executive board minutes that CastroLang borrowed $7000 from another account called the “Drumheller Fund.” It appears this money was used to ensure he received his paychecks during this time, and while it was a violation of the SCDCC bylaws, there were no consequences for CastroLang for playing fast and loose with the finances and violating bylaws.

New Chair Andrew Biviano wishes away the scandal.

The Biviano family has been involved in the Spokane Democratic political scene for many years.  Andrew Biviano was elected Spokane County Democratic Party Chair after an unsuccessful effort to run for Spokane County Commissioner in 2016.  Andrew’s wife Amy Biviano ran unsuccessfully for the Washington State Legislature in 2012 (while bringing international news to that year’s legislative election).  She also made an unsuccessful attempt to become Spokane County Treasurer in the 2014 elections.  

This is not the best policy to follow right now

Andrew Biviano is an attorney.  He is also well versed in filing complaints with the PDC and the Washington State Attorney General’s office as he did a few weeks ago filing this complaint against the Freedom Foundation.  He clearly supports the AG investigative and litigation process.  Despite his background, Biviano is in the denial phase of the current investigation as he attempts to convince donors and political insiders that he can negotiate with the PDC.  He can’t.  The seriousness of the charges and the clear evidence supporting them ensure this is no longer in the hands of the PDC.  It is possible that some allegations can be explained away, but no legal tap dance is going to change the fact this complaint ends up in court with a fine and attorney’s fees.

Did the devil make Jim CastroLang do it?

CastroLang bears most of the responsibility here

Andrew Biviano is attempting to do damage control, but he can’t be blamed for the historic violations that occurred at the SCDCC.  It is clear that Pastor Jim CastroLang is the central character responsible for most of these violations.  It is also evident the checks and balances the SCDCC had in place to prevent this type of behavior failed.  The bylaws were ignored with no consequences.  The former executive board was either kept in the dark or unwilling to ask questions.  Now there is a price to be paid for this laxity.

As Pastor CastroLang is well aware, there are consequences for our actions.  All have sinned and fallen short.  It is now his turn to demonstrate this eternal truth for the rest of us.  There should be no gloating when sins and human failings are exposed.  However, there are lessons to be learned.  CastroLang’s sermon “The Devil Made Me Do it” may be an appropriate theme for the Spokane County Democrats right now, but the law doesn’t recognize the Devil.  The law only recognizes the violations.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson  is a featured speaker at this weekend’s Tom Foley dinner in Spokane, a major fundraiser for the Spokane County Democrats.  It seems odd that Ferguson would be helping an organization raise funds while they are being investigated by his office for hiding funds and ignoring the law, but they will need all the money they can get to pay the inevitable fine.  The Devil may indeed have made the Spokane Democrats violate the law, but unlike the Devil, the Attorney General doesn’t want their souls.  Angel donors with cash will be needed to give the Devil and the AG his due this time.

Sometimes you have to pay the devil his due, even if he made you do it

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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 articles about Spokane County Democrat Complaints

Spokesman Review – Western Washington Political Activist alleges financial disclosure violations on Spokane Democrats

Redoubt News – CastroLang and Spokane Dems violated Campaign Finance Laws?

Original Complaint filed against the SCDCC – March 16, 2017

Jim CastroLang sermon – “The Devil Made me do it” Feb 14, 2016

Daily Mail – Democratic Legislative Candidate revealed as former Playmate who posed for “Women of the Ivy League” spread when she was at Yale

Flashback – New York Times – Racial Slur Causes political turmoil for Democrats in Northwest

Recent articles about Frank Chopp Complaints

Tacoma News Tribune – House Speaker hit with campaign finance complaint in growing tug of war

AG – Chopp to pay $6469 over campaign finance violations

Tacoma News Tribune editorial – Stop the PDC from becoming the Petty Complaint Department

The Olympian – Speaker Chopp earned his fine

Seattle PI – Speaker Chopp will pay $6,469 in penalties for campaign reporting violations

Seattle Times – Frank Chopp pays $1700 fine over campaign finance violations

Recent AG lawsuits and other pending complaints:

AG – AG files campaign finance complaints against Sam Hunt and Thurston Democrats

March 6, 2017 – AG lawsuit against Thurston County Democrats (Thurston Superior Court #17-2-00972-34)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Background articles on Attorney General lawsuits:

Can political insiders violate campaign finance laws with no consequences?

AGO Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against 19th District House Candidate

AGO 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

Thurston County goes Independent, first time in state history

The Olympian – “Everybody is in violation of the PDC” says activist as the Attorney General files complaints

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