The Washington State Democratic Party has been promoting to their local party committees an unusual political and legal strategy over the past few months. These recommendations primarily deal with how to strategically address situations where local county or legislative district committees are caught violating the state’s campaign finance
laws. One part of this endorsed and coordinated strategy is for the local Democrat Party organization to dissolve, send their money to the State Party (and their attorneys), and then claim they no longer exist. Three local Democratic organizations (Island County Democrats, 11th Legislative District Democrats, and the 43rd Legislative District Democrats) have followed this path over the past few weeks. Many more are also rushing to disappear themselves.
As discussed in previous articles linked below, many Democratic Party political committees have been caught and exposed for violating Washington State’s awesome campaign finance laws. This author has only filed a paltry 96 complaints with the Public Disclosure Commission against political committees this year. Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson campaigned to more aggressively enforce the state’s campaign finance laws, and Ferguson helped to inspire this author to do my civic duty and help. As a result of this author’s complaints, the AG has filed lawsuits against the following for their egregious violations of this perfectly written law:
- Thurston County Democrats (5 complaints) – lawsuit filed 3/6/2017 (17-2-00972-34)
- King County Democrats – lawsuit filed 5/11/2017 (17-2-02836-34)
- Spokane County Democrats (2 complaints) – lawsuit filed 5/11/2017 (17-2-02837-34)
- Eastside Democratic Dinner Committee– lawsuit filed 6/19/2017 (17-2-15750-3 SEA)
- San Juan County Democrats – lawsuit filed 6/29/2017 (17-2-03876-34)
- Kittitas County Democrats – lawsuit filed 7/14/2017 (17-2-04103-34)
- North Idaho District Labor Council – lawsuit filed 8/1/2017 (17-2-04408-34)
- Pierce County Democrats – lawsuit filed 8/14/2017 (17-2-04616-34)
The Attorney General’s office then decided that they had maxed out their quota of lawsuits against Democrat Party committees. Apparently, there was also some concern they might lose more employees like Democrat activist Walter Smith, who quit the department recently because he thought he would only be suing Republicans when he took this job.
The Washington State Democratic Party,according to a variety of Democratic Party insiders, has been providing recommendations, support, and advice to local political committees who are caught violating the law. The first recommendation is to beg the state’s AG to sue them. Sweetheart settlements are being negotiated with Democratic committees (not so much for Republicans), and the recent Pierce County Democrat Party settlement result provides strong support for this strategy. However, if this path can’t be taken, the next action they recommend is to transfer all their assets to the State Party law firm – or to the State Party itself. Then, they are directed to declare themselves dissolved and they are to vanish into the ether like they never existed in the first place. They can then pretend they never violated the law.
The theory is by dissolving themselves and disposing of their assets before a court judgment, they can avoid legal liability for their lawbreaking. In an effort to assist Washington State in this critical duty of enforcing the campaign finance laws, I have been filing lawsuits on behalf of the State of Washington. These help ease the burden on the overworked attorney general’s office. The statutory fines collected through these lawsuits will disappear into the State’s general fund budget, which the Democrats should strongly support. So far, about 8 cases like this have been filed incorporating about 17 complaints. One case against the People for Thurston County PAC was settled recently (see complete story here).
This is unusual legal advice and new territory for the Washington State Democrats, but there might be some self-serving reasons for doing this. First, by convincing these committees to transfer to the funds to the state party, it helps the state party with their fundraising efforts (at least one Socialist activist appears to agree with me on this). Secondly, by transferring these funds to the state party law firm, they can keep the legal advice flowing as well. The Washington State Democratic Party recently has switched law firms because their law firm of choice – Seattle based Perkins Coie, appears to be under federal investigation for violating federal campaign finance laws for the Hillary Clinton campaign and for some bizarre Russian collusion efforts and for lying to Federal agencies among other unsavory scandals. The state party realized they needed a new law firm, and they were fortunate to find this new Seattle firm to ably represent their interests.
As wide as this disappearing act strategy appears to be spreading throughout the Democratic Party in Washington State, it isn’t clear yet if it will succeed. Like the Cheshire Cat in Alice and Wonderland, the cat might disappear, but the smile still hangs in the air. These political committees have existed for decades, they appear to still be raising funds, and it seems unlikely that the courts will allow political committees to disappear themselves out of existence to avoid the legal consequences for their lawbreaking.
At this time, the Attorney General’s office has been silent on whether this legal strategy is supported by their department. If it is approved, then Tim Eyman, among others has a perfect, low-cost solution to their legal campaign finance woes. Just disappear and return with a different political committee. As these cases wind through the court, we will see if the judges accept this political magic trick conjured up by the Democrats.
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…
Additional Background articles and documents:
(added after article published): Woke Washington – “WA Dems team up with WA GOP to dismantle campaign accountability” (local Socialist writes detailed article with source documents – critical of this author (with is fine), but also providing more insight on this issue.
Pierce County Settlement Document (Thurston Superior Court #17-2-04616-34 , filed October 27, 2017) (if document is missing – you can download it here)
AG lawsuit against Pierce County Democrats (Thurston Superior Court #17-2-04616-34) filed August 14, 2017) (if document is missing – you can download it here)
AG’s press release about initial lawsuit filed against Pierce County Democrats (shortly after this, the AG stopped issuing press releases about settlements against Democrat politicians or committees)
AG Press Releases about lawsuits filed as a result of complaints filed by this author
August 18, 2017 – AGO settles Campaign Finance Complaint against Representative Strom Peterson for a settlement of $11,950. Peterson pays $7, 595 with the rest deferred.Note- this was sent out as a tweet on August 21, 2017 in lieu of a press release