Jay Manning is the consummate Washington State political insider. He was the former Director of the Department of Ecology before he became Governor Gregoire’s Chief of Staff for two years. Jay currently sits on the Board of Trustees for Eastern Washington University, and he is chair of the Leadership Council for the Puget Sound Partnership. He is also a partner with Cascadia Law Group.
Mr. Manning is also a prolific violator of campaign finance laws, and there is some speculation that he is too politically connected to suffer any consequences for his illegal actions. Only time and the Washington State Attorney General’s office will be able to confirm if these speculations are true.
Recently re-elected Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson campaigned with the promise of focusing additional energy by the Attorney General’s office on enforcing the campaign finance laws of Washington State. In 2016, under Ferguson’s direction – several public sector unions were fined by the AG’s office as a result of the Freedom Foundation’s efforts to expose these union’s many campaign finance violations. Ferguson used this increased emphasis during his political campaign to file lawsuits against Kim Wyman (Republican Secretary of State), Tim Eyman (Anti-tax initiative guy), and the Grocers Manufacturing Group (opposing an anti-GMO initiative). Once the election was over, the AG’s office also filed lawsuits against Washington State Budget and Policy Center (who opposed one of Tim Eyman’s initiatives), Theresa Purcell (failed Democratic candidate for 19th Legislative District), and Jim Cooper (failed Democrat candidate for the Thurston County Commission).
However, Jay Manning as a campaign finance violator is another matter. He isn’t a public sector union which can just pay the fines and increase member dues as a cost of conducting political business. He isn’t a Republican and he isn’t a failed Democrat candidate. He isn’t the initiative guy every bureaucrat and Leftist loves to hate. He is a Democrat political insider with friends in high places. Bob Ferguson is one of his friends, and Mr. Manning donated to his 2012 election campaign (see report linked here). This is one of those political friend conundrums for sure.
What does Jay Manning and an ancient warrior spirit named Ramtha have in common and how did they violate campaign finance laws?
Jay Manning’s primary campaign finance violations were committed while he was the Director of Thurston County’s own Super PAC – People for Thurston, PAC – almost entirely funded by JZ Knight, a local cult leader who, since the late 1970s, claims to channel a 35,000 year old Lemurian homicidal warrior king spirit named “Ramtha.” JZ/Ramtha made national news in 2012 when videos of her/it’s racist hate speeches about Mexicans, Catholics, Jews, gays, and organic farmers were made public by some of her followers. The 2012 racist speech scandal prompted the Washington State Democratic Party to divest itself from her/it’s most recent donations. Local Democrats and other political candidates also divested themselves of her/it’s donations. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center got involved to identifying JZ/Ramtha as a hateful cult leader.
However, the Thurston County Democratic Party was dependent on the largess of JZ/Ramtha, and continued to accept over $200,000 to support their enlightened candidates. This wasn’t enough for JZ/Ramtha, and she/it wanted to ensure the Democrat Party retained control of the Thurston County Commission. This lead to the creation of the People for Thurston, PAC with a donation of $54,000 from JZ/Ramtha and Jay Manning was chosen to manage it. Unfortunately, not only did all the money from People for Thurston PAC fail to retain the Thurston County Commission for the Democrats, Mr. Manning also violated a wide array of campaign finance laws while working for JZ Knight/Ramtha.
What are these violations?
Here is a summary of just a few of these violations:
PDC tracking #9044 – October 18, 2016
1) Violated WAC 390-18-060 (3) by failing to electronically report electioneering communications in a timely manner as required by law.
2) Failure to identify party affiliation of candidates in campaign mailers (Violation of RCW 42.17A.320(1))
3) Illegal coordination with candidates, and other violations
PDC tracking #9995 – November 28, 2016
1)Additional failures to identify party affiliation of candidates in campaign mailers RCW 42.17A.320 (1)
PDC tracking #10006 – November 28, 2016
1)The complaint alleges that People for Thurston County violated RCW 42.17A.205 by failing to include an 80%+ sponsor in the name of the committee listed on the C1PC report
PDC tracking #11384 – December 7, 2016
1) Failing to include the proper sponsor in campaign advertising (RCW 42.17A.320 (1))
PDC tracking #11386 – December 14, 2016
1) Failure to report the expenditure or in kind contribution from The Law Offices of Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt, LLP or Jay Manning, potential failure to report in kind or direct contribution from JZ Knight. (Violation of RCW 42.17A.235)
3) Failing to report overlimit contributions made by People for Thurston PAC to the Kelsey Hulse campaign. (Violation of RCW 42.17A.405(14))
PDC tracking #12110 – January 13, 2017
1) Failure to timely, accurately report debt. (Violation of RCW 42.17A.240(8))
2) Failure to report last minute contributions. (See RCW 42.17A.265)
In addition to these pending campaign finance violation complaints, the Attorney General’s office has been notified of additional violations by Jay Manning including failure to file an F1 financial affairs statement (Violation of RCW 42.17A.700(1),(3)) as well as failure to file as a lobbyist in 2016 while actively lobbying the state senate for SB 6276.
Are the campaign finance laws applied equally to everyone?
Jay Manning is a veteran of Washington State politics, the political process, and the campaign finance reporting laws. Yet in just a few months he committed a large variety of violations. While ignorance of the law is no excuse, Mr. Manning can’t plead ignorance. Jay Manning is an attorney and very familiar with the law and the penalties for failing to follow the law. Based on the extensive work of the law firm he has hired to defend himself, and their efforts to dismiss as many of these violations as either “the consultants (or maybe Ramtha) made us do it”, many of these violations can’t be denied.
Will the law written by the legislature, the rules written by the bureaucrats, and the enforcement of both by our state’s attorney general only apply to the little people? Or, will politically connected insiders like Jay Manning be held accountable as well?
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…