On August 24th, Jay Manning, former chief of staff to Governor Gregoire and former Director of the Washington State Department of Ecology settled the lawsuit originally filed against him for his many violations of the Washington State campaign finance laws. Manning committed these violations while he managed a Thurston County focused political action committee (PAC) mostly funded and sponsored by Cult leader JZ Knight. The settlement totalled $14,640, which included a $5000 fine ($4000 suspended,unless he violates the law again in the next four years), and $9,640 for legal, court, and investigative costs. In a strange twist to this ten month saga, the Washington State Democratic Party is paying for half of Jay Manning’s campaign finance fines.
Racist Statements forced State Democratic Party to reject JZ Knight/Ramtha cash in 2012
JZ Knight claims to channel a 35,000 year old homicidal Lemurian warrior spirit named “Ramtha” who has travelled through space and time to comment on local politics in Thurston County from her large walled compound located near Yelm. Manning, by his own admission, had known Knight for many years before agreeing to run her local Super PAC called “People for Thurston County.” Knight gained widespread notoriety for a variety of racist videos which leaked from one of her channeling sessions in 2012 where Knight/Ramtha made racist and hateful comments about Mexicans, Jews, Catholics, Gays, and even organic farmers.
Knight was one of the largest donors to the Washington State Democratic Party at the time, and as these videos became public, the State Democratic Party was forced to distance themselves from Knight/Ramtha and divest her/its sizeable donations at the time. Interestingly, the Washington State Democratic Party didn’t immediately divest themselves of these donations after the Knight/Ramtha videos about Mexicans, Jews, Catholics, and Gays were released, but once the organic farmer video was released – that was the bridge too far, and the Washington State Democratic Party made the understandable step of diverting the Knight/Ramtha cash to a different group. Washington State Democratic Chair at the time – Dwight Pelz denounced Knight and the State Party formally distanced themselves from the racist cult leader in 2012.
Thurston County Democrats needed JZ Knight cult cash, racist speeches ignored
However, at a local level, the Thurston County Democrats were far less concerned about racist speeches, ancient warrior spirits, and cult leaders, so JZ Knight filled the local Democrat Party’s coffers from 2014 to 2016 with over $216,000 of direct cash donations, local PAC funding, and contributions to local Democratic Party candidates. In the recent 2016 elections, this included a $54,000 donation she/it made to the local SuperPAC run by Jay Manning which produced a variety of attack mailers against the Independant Thurston County Commissioner Candidates John Hutchings and Gary Edwards. Manning and the Cult PAC also funded large mailers in support of the Democratic Party Commissioner candidates Jim Cooper and Kelsey Hulse. Along the way, Manning violated a wide variety of campaign finance laws.
Jay Manning breaks the law, again
This campaign activity resulted in a variety of Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Complaints against Jay Manning and the JZ Knight-sponsored PAC filed by this author (see original list below). The ten separate complaints resulted in a cumulative list of allegations that included violations like failure to list JZ Knight as the sponsor of the PAC, a failure to properly identify party affiliation of the candidates, failure to provide accurate detail of expenditures, among other violations. This wasn’t the first time in 2017 that Jay Manning was caught breaking campaign finance laws.
On February 13, 2017, Jay Manning settled another campaign finance lawsuit filed against him by the Washington State Attorney General’s office, also initiated by a complaint originally filed by this author (see below). That settlement resolved Manning’s failure to file financial disclosure documents to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) which was required because of his appointment by Governor Inslee as a Trustee of Eastern Washington University and his leadership position with Puget Sound Partnership. As a former attorney with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and a founding partner of the Cascadia Law Group, Manning had no excuses for this failure to comply with the law, so he wisely settled this lawsuit for $6,385 immediately after the AG filed the lawsuit.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson , also a Democrat, decided that one lawsuit against Manning per year was enough, so while his office failed to pursue the many violations of the state’s campaign finance laws by Manning while he ran Knight’s Cult PAC, this author was allowed standing by the AG’s office to initiate the lawsuit “Washington State ex rel. Glen Morgan vs. Jay Manning” earlier this summer. It became apparent to all involved that settlement was a wiser course of action than reliving last year’s cult PAC failures, and this final sad chapter of the Manning/Knight/Ramtha PAC saga was largely closed on August 24th.
Jay Manning, JZ Knight, and Thurston County Democrats fail
Adding salt to the wound caused by full contact with the state’s campaign finance laws was the clear election rejection by Thurston County voters of the commissioner candidates offered by the Thurston County Democratic Party in 2016. Both Democrat candidates Jim Cooper and Kelsey Hulse failed to win their elections, thus producing a Thurston County Commission that had no Democrats (or Republicans). This is the first time neither party could claim a commissioner in Thurston County since statehood. This was also the first time there wasn’t a Democrat on the Thurston County Commission since at least the 1930s. This electoral defeat occurred despite Manning and JZ Knight’s well funded PAC effort.
Lots of Thurston County Democrats go to court for lawbreaking
In addition to losing the election, both Jim Cooper and Kelsey Hulse were sued by the Attorney General’s office for a variety of campaign finance violations they committed, also initiated by complaints filed by this author. Kelsey Hulse settled her campaign finance lawsuit March 2, 2017 for $2,920. Jim Cooper is still in a legal battle (most observers believe he wants to postpone any settlement until after his current 2017 election effort for the Olympia City Council). On March 14, 2017, the AG also sued The Thurston County Democratic Party and Democratic State Senator Sam Hunt (22nd District- Olympia) for their many campaign finance violations. Senator Hunt recently settled his case for $6,475. The Thurston County Democrats are still locked up in court with no clear end in sight. All these lawsuits were initiated by PDC complaints filed by this author.
There is some positive evidence that the Thurston County Democrats are turning over a new leaf in their political efforts. In 2017, they seem to be avoiding more donation checks from JZ Knight or Ramtha (this may also be influenced by the fact that JZ Knight/Ramtha bizarrely decided to endorse Donald Trump at the last minute). On another positive note, there have also been no more documented death threats from Democratic PCOs since the last one made against this author during the election of 2016 (which resulted in a restraining order against Democrat PCO Laurien Weisser). The good news is that the Thurston County Democrats officially renounced violence as an acceptable tool of political intimidation, which was also a solid positive step forward for this political organization.
Additionally, the former chair of the Thurston County Democrats, Katie Nelson, although reelected as chair, decided to resign a few months later, which has led to the delightful election of Boudicca Walsh, the new Chair of the Thurston County Democratic Party and a self described “Trans Radical Witch of Olympia.” Walsh has become this author’s new favorite Democratic Party Chair, and it is impossible to imagine better and more appropriate leader than a Trans Radical Witch to take the Thurston County Democrats in a new political direction few can even imagine. I am sure there will be more political adventures and excitement in the near future.
Why did State Democratic Party bail out Cult PAC?
This introduces the strangest element of the whole Manning/Knight/Cult PAC drama. Yes, even stranger and weirder than wealthy cult leaders, ancient Lemurian warrior spirits, trans radical witches, or the Thurston County Democratic Party. Why did the Washington State Democratic Party transfer funds to Jay Manning to help pay for his campaign finance settlement?
According to Jay Manning’s most recent filings with the Public Disclosure Commission, he received donations of $5,320 from Christian Sinderman’s consulting company, Northwest Passage Consulting. He also accepted $5,320 from the Washington State Democratic Party. It is understandable that Sinderman would pay part of this fine because at least one of the major violations committed by Jay Manning was the result of a mistake made by Northwest Passage Consulting. This willingness to support Jay Manning by Northwest Passage Consulting which admitted they committed the mistake reflects well on Christian Sinderman and Northwest Passage Consulting. How many other political vendors would do this for their customers? Very few from either party.
However, why would the Washington State Democratic Party step up to pay 50% of Jay Manning’s Cult PAC campaign finance lawsuit settlement? JZ Knight was the prime sponsor and donor to the PAC. Why didn’t the ancient warrior spirit Ramtha travel through space and time to pay Manning? While Manning’s efforts were focused on helping Democrats get elected to the Thurston County Commission, this was still a very localized race and the Cult PAC Manning managed had very little influence outside this 2016 failure. There is nothing illegal about kicking cash to your friends in politics, but it looks odd. Picking up PDC violation tabs like this runs the potential risk for the Washington State Democratic Party of creating moral hazard.
If the state party will bail out campaign finance lawsuits even if the violator is operating outside the party structure and managing a rogue political PAC, then who else will they bail out? Why even bother to comply with the law in the first place if the state Party will just pick up the tab? Just call it a cost of doing business and know that the State Party has the deep pockets. The many Democratic Committees and candidates facing litigation campaign finance settlements should take note and start lobbying for their piece of the bailout pie right now. After all, what makes Jay Manning and this cult-funded PAC more important than anyone else?
Of course, it is always possible, Trump endorsement aside, perhaps Knight/Ramtha are closer to the State Democratic Party than anyone realized or wants to acknowledge. Maybe they patched up their differences (does racist hate speech have a statute of limitations based on the size of your bank account?). It is also possible that Jay Manning is a bit more equal than some of the other candidates and committees facing these lawsuits, and the same rules won’t apply equally or fairly to all. This speculation is unlikely to go away soon, and we should all be thankful that Washington State’s political process continues to produce interesting and entertaining stories like this. With this cast of characters there is sure to be more weird stories to report.
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 (Additional Source Docs Below):
Senator Sam Hunt Campaign Finance Lawsuit Settlement with AG – July 14, 2017- Thurston County Superior Court #17-2-00849-34 (Same Document can be downloaded from this site here)
Senator Sam Hunt Campaign Finance Lawsuit – Original AG lawsuit – February 24, 2017 – Thurston County Superior Court #17-2-00849-34 (Same Document can be downloaded from this site here)
Thurston County Democrats Campaign Finance Lawsuit – Original AG lawsuit – March 6, 2017 – Thurston County Superior Court #17-2-00972-34 (Same Document can be downloaded from this site here)
Thurston County Democratic Commissioner candidate Jim Cooper Campaign Finance Lawsuit – Original AG lawsuit – December 19, 2016 – Thurston County Superior Court #16-2-04960-34 (Same Document can be downloaded from this site here)
Thurston County Democratic Commissioner candidate Kelsey Hulse Campaign Finance Lawsuit – Final Settlement – March 2, 2017 – Thurston County Superior Court #17-2-00848-34 (Same Document can be downloaded from this site here)
Jay Manning/JZ Knight SuperPAC “People for Thurston PAC” – Financial Disclosure Documents (C3) filed with the PDC August 11, 2017 – shows $5,320 donation from Washington State Party (Same Document can be downloaded from this site here)
(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, and Senator Sam Hunt. 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).