Last week, the Public Disclosure Commission allowed Jay Manning to avoid transparency and scrutiny once again, but he was not able to entirely avoid the truth.
As we have discussed recently, Jay Manning is a political power broker in Washington State. 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 struggling and scandal prone Puget Sound Partnership.
Mr. Manning is also a partner with Cascadia Law Group, which was part of the reason he was before the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) last Thursday morning demanding to have his personal finances shielded from public scrutiny. In Washington State, all candidates for political office and many senior government employees are required to file Financial Affairs Reports to the Public Disclosure Commission. This law exists, in theory, so that the public can be informed about possible conflicts of interest for the agency director, commission member, or politician.
Specifically, Mr. Manning was requesting a waiver to the reporting requirements for his law firm so that he could shield the identities of the clients they serve. As he admitted during the hearing, one of these clients was JZ Knight, a racist hate cult leader who claims to channel a 35,000 year old homicidal Lemurian warrior spirit named “Ramtha” and who has travelled through space and time to donate large sums of money to the Thurston County Democratic Party. JZ Knight was exposed in 2012 when racist videos of various statements she made about Mexicans, Jews, Catholics, organic farmers and others were made public. The Washington State Democratic Party divested itself of her funds after her hate videos were exposed, but the Thurston County Democratic Party has no such scruples and has become dependant on her largess (Since 2014 – over $215,000 to support local Democrats – more than any other political donor in Thurston County history).
The recent admission by Jay Manning before the PDC that JZ Knight was a client of his law firm was a revelation he had intended to avoid. Mr. Manning had also made carefully worded statements that the cult leader was not “his” client on multiple occasions. Fortunately for Manning, the Public Disclosure Commission eventually agreed to let him shroud the client lists of the Cascadia Law Group. Unfortunately for the public, we can only speculate on the many conflicts of interest which permeate his business and political life moving forward. However, we all can be comforted by Mr. Manning’s promise to avoid those conflicts in the future despite the secrecy.
For comparison, the PDC was unwilling to grant similar client list secrecy to JT Wilcox, Republican legislator from the 2nd District. Representative Wilcox’s family owns a free range organic egg farm. The Public Disclosure Commision requires him to identify every single Costco store that carries their family’s farm eggs in detail along with all their other organic egg clients. Apparently it is more important for the public to know who is buying free range organic eggs than to know with whom a racist cult leader is attempting to buy political influence and control.
Jay Manning’s grant of secrecy for his law firm by the Public Disclosure Commission is particularly troubling because he failed to file two years worth of financial affairs information and is currently facing an investigation by both the PDC and the Attorney General’s office for this violation of campaign finance laws as well as illegal lobbying. He is also facing many investigations by both agencies for his many campaign finance violations while he ran a local SuperPAC almost entirely funded by the same JZ Knight cult leader he claimed to barely know. In addition to sloppy paperwork and illegal activity, Manning’s People for Thurston PAC failed in its attempt to keep Democrats in control of the Thurston County Commission.
Despite the cloud of illegal activity on the part of Mr. Manning, and his strange desire to hide his law firm’s close affiliation with a racist cult leader, the Public Disclosure Commission allowed him to skate away with even more secrecy last Thursday.
As we discussed in our most recent article about Mr. Manning, he is the consummate political insider in Washington State. As the Public Disclosure Commission unfortunately demonstrated last week, this means the rules don’t exactly apply to him. Certainly not the way they apply to Republican organic farmers or to the rest of us.
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 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. It is nearly impossible to make this stuff up).
Public Disclosure Commission Links:
Normally, you can watch the whole PDC meeting on the PDC live-streamed video on Youtube, but on Thursday they had “technical difficulties” See what survived here, which conveniently didn’t include the Jay Manning portion of the hearing: PDC live streamed hearing here.
Sampling of AG and Prosecutor documents to Jay Manning
Background articles on Attorney General lawsuits: