The Teamster Union PAC was recently fined, and Seattle Socialist Kshama Sawant gets a closer investigation for her many additional campaign finance violations

I’ve filed a lot of complaints against politicians, judges, PACs, and candidates over the past few years for violating various Washington State laws (see here for complete list of resolved cases).  Mostly these involve violations of Washington State’s glorious campaign finance laws (RCW 42.17A) and also the random patchwork of ethics laws which are theoretically applied to some of the political leadership in this state (not equally applied, but random application occurs).   I receive numerous reader requests for updates on the status of these cases.  Many are still “in process” (being investigated) at this time, but I try to keep readers updated as these are completed by the Public Disclosure Commission, the Washington State Attorney General, or various other local and state ethics boards. 

Last Friday, the Public Disclosure Commission completed their investigation of the Washington Teamsters Legislative League PAC (see case file here).  This was based on a campaign finance complaint I filed against this PAC on December 21, 2017 (see here).  Mostly, this PAC concealed large campaign contributions to various Democratic Party legislators and delayed revealing many of these expenditures for extensive periods of time during various election cycles.  As anyone who has followed my work knows, this is not unusual behavior.  This PAC agreed to a $1,000 fine (see here), and received a formal wrist slap warning letter from the PDC last week (see here). 

This was the 66th Politician, Judge, or PAC officially fined since I started this effort in late 2016, and was the 154th group/politician officially confirmed by a regulatory agency as a law-breaker based on my complaints.  Many more will be added to that list over time.  The wheels of justice and bureaucracy move slowly, particularly if the violators are aligned with the favored political establishment. 

For those who complain about the paltry sum of the fine, please remember, this was a direct result of the “Stop Glen Morgan Bill” which Inslee signed into law in 2018 (much of which I supported, by the way).  The steep fines were originally intended to be applied to political outsiders only (and the campaign finance laws were mostly about creating barriers to entry and the protection of incumbents who already know the game). However, once the entire political establishment of Washington State began to experience the joys and wonder of the campaign finance laws equally applied – it wasn’t so fun any more.  It became time to change the law. So, in theory, insiders and outsiders alike will mostly receive wrist slap fines moving forward (unless you are Tim Eyman – in which case, the scorched earth rules still apply).

Seattle Socialist Kshama Sawant gets investigated for lawbreaking once again.

I filed a more recent complaint against Seattle City Councilmember Socialist Kshama Sawant on February 11, 2020 (linked here).  Mostly, as you can see from the complaint this was based on the ethics violations committed by Sawant as documented by the Seattle ethics commission report attached to the complaint.  Another citizen filed a similar complaint at the same time (linked here), which was combined in one investigation.  Based on a recent letter received from the PDC on May 11, 2020 (linked here) it appears this case is likely to result in a deep dive investigation now which may or may not result in some type of wrist slap fine.  Sawant’s response written by the law firm who usually defends these politicians when I file complaints (yes, they owe me a Christmas basket and a thank you note at least for all the business I’ve sent their way) is linked hereThe first complaint I filed against Sawant (linked here) resulted in a $150 fine (see here) by the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission (To whom the PDC referred the complaint to back then)a few years ago.  We will have to wait to see how this more egregious violation shakes out. It may be worth writing an article just about all her ethics and campaign violations someday.

State Insurance Commissioner, Certified Public Accountants PAC, David Sawyer, and the City of Olympia

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fine imposed on Washington State’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler (story linked here) for his illegal misuse of funds.  Here are a few other updates on other cases:

  • The City of Olympia’s overt and reckless violation of the state’s campaign finance laws was put into a deep dive investigation by the PDC a few months ago as well (see letter here).  This was based on a complaint I filed (linked here), and numerous other people also filed complaints against the city for egregious violations where they used taxpayer dollars to oppose a citizens initiative in clear violation of the law (see case file here).  This will be a fascinating case study in just how many violations political insiders can commit with impunity.   Students of the state’s glorious campaign finance laws are watching this one to see what type of wrist slap “naughty, naughty” letter they receive or if the PDC actually decides to send a mini-message to others who are willing to blatantly violate the law the same way in the future. The current strategy is to drag this out until most people forget.

David Sawyer
  • Disgraced former Democrat Representative David Sawyer (29th LD), from Tacoma was fined $1,000 based on a 2017 complaint I filed against him with the PDC (See file documents below or case file here).  This was mostly for his habitually deficient and late campaign finance reporting.  He also acted like the law was never intended to apply to him.  This matched his Ethics Fine of $1,000 for the #MeToo investigation which occurred recently (see here). Sawyer was treated more like a Republican in this case because he was no longer a favored son of the Democratic Party (politics can be a fickle game of thrones).
  • The Washington State Conservation Voters Action Fund PAC was wrist slapped with a $300 fine based on two different complaints I filed against them (see here and here) in October and November 2019.  These were mainly focused on shady, secretive, strategically late filings they made to obscure and conceal some of their last minute political activity.  The PDC staff gave them the benefit of the doubt and imposed a minor fine.  Partly, this was influenced by earlier warning letters this well-funded PAC had received for historic campaign finance violations (see here).  A pattern has been established, but it might take a few more fines to correct this habitual lawbreaking.
  • The Washington State Association of Certified Public Accountants PAC was fined $2500 based on a 2017 complaint I filed against them.  This included a laundry list of random violations mostly involved with late reporting, concealing donations made to Governor Inslee and others for many months.  Unlike the Conservation Voters Action Fund PAC, this one also gave to Republicans, so they had a larger fine imposed.  However, these guys are supposed to be the professionals, and if they can’t follow Washington State’s glorious and wonderful campaign finance laws, what hope is there for the rest of us?

For a complete list of the last 66 politicians, PACs, judges, and others who have been fined based on my complaints, and a list of the 94 PACs and politicians who have been publicly and officially exposed for violating these laws go to this link and see the complete list, including direct source links to the original documents.  As I’ve said before, you can mock me for my hobby of exposing these guys, but there are worse and far less productive hobbies out there.

Sometimes all we can do is shine a little spotlight in the darkness of the political process.


Background articles and documents:

Washington State Public Disclosure Commission

PDC Case #29798 – WA Teamsters PAC – Original complaint filed by Glen Morgan, December 21, 2017

PDC Case #29798 – WA Teamsters PAC – PDC Formal Investigation Report – March 25, 2020

PDC Case #29798 – WA Teamsters PAC – MOU – Agreement to settle $1k fine- May 8, 2020

PDC Case #29798 – WA Teamsters PAC – PDC Formal Warning Letter – May 8, 2020

PDC Case #65026 – Kshama Sawant – original complaint filed by Glen Morgan February 12, 2020

PDC Case #65026 – Kshama Sawant – Sawant attorney response – March 13, 2020

PDC Case #65026 – Kshama Sawant – PDC notice of launch of formal investigation – May 11, 2020

PDC Case #11340 – Kshama Sawant – original PDC complaint filed by Glen Morgan December 29, 2016

PDC Case #11340 – Kshama Sawant – PDC referral to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission – February 7, 2017

SEEC Fine letter (After PDC referred case to them) – Kshama Sawant – February 21, 2017

PDC Case #59039 – City of Olympia – Original complaint filed by Glen Morgan – October 22, 2019

PDC Case #59039 – City of Olympia – Notice of formal investigation – November 1, 2019

ShiftWA – The City of Olympia’s selfish and scary defense for attempting to sway the vote

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler caught and fined for illegal use of funds

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler

PDC Case #65459 – Mike Kreidler(2)

Original PDC Compliant filed against Mike Kreidler (PDC Case #65459)

Final signed Statement of Understanding detailing the violation and the fine (PDC Case #65459). Received 4-16-2020, digitally “signed” by Mike Kreidler on 4-10-20.

Formal summary letter from the PDC sent on 4/20/2020 to the author (PDC Case #65459 – Mike Kreidler)

PDC Case #24661 – Mike Kreidler (1)

Rep. David Sawyer – WA State Legislative Ethics Investigation Case #18-04 (dated January 28, 2019) including a $1,000 fine.

PDC Case #29797 – David Sawyer

Rep. David Sawyer – Final signed settlement of PDC investigation and $1,000 fine (PDC Case #29797)

Original PDC Compliant #29797 against Rep. Sawyer

PDC Summary of PDC Case #29797 against Rep. David Sawyer

Original Complaint – PDC Case #59539 – Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund PAC (2)

PDC Case #59539 – Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund PAC(2)

Original Complaint – PDC Case #59657 – Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund PAC (4)

PDC Case #42958 – Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund PAC (1)

PDC Case #59657 – Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund PAC (4)

PDC letter to this author dated April 20, 2020 for PDC Case #59657 & #59359 detailing $300 settlement and fine

PDC Case #59657 – Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants PAC

Original Complaint PDC Case #59657 – WA Society of Certified Public Accountants PAC (April 11, 2018)

Stipulation and signed Settlement – PDC Case #59657 – WA Society of Certified Public Accountants PAC – March 13, 2020

Adventures in political accountability and campaign finance enforcement in Washington State

The List: Politicians, Judges, Candidates, and PACs caught and exposed by Glen Morgan’s efforts

Governor Ja Inslee signs “Stop Glen Morgan Bill”, but will it really change anything?

ESHB 2938 – Final Signed Session Law (Effective June 7th)

PDC campaign finance complaint #32210 against Governor Jay Inslee

TVW video of ESHB 2938 passing house on Feb 14, 2018

Washington State Constitution – Last Revision by amendment 1-12-2011

Warnings, Fines, Records, and Chaos – the joys of Washington’s campaign finance laws

Democrat legislators break law, propose bill to hide their lawbreaking – attempt to punish those who exposed them

Thanksgiving spirit – bringing Democrats and Republicans together in King County

The Scorched wasteland of Washington’s campaign finance laws

The Chaos of campaign finance compliance and the disarray of the Dems

Superior Court Judge Stolz fined $13k for failed “stealth” election campaign

Attorney General forced to sue failed Appellate Court Judge Candidate Nathan Choi for massive campaign finance violations

Washington AG forced to sue labor group, keeps $36k settlement very quiet

Tukwila Firefighters PAC settles campaign finance lawsuit for $23k, promises to do better

Dem Representative Morris settles AG lawsuit quietly and cheaply

Jay Manning fined for Cult PAC violations, State Democratic Party pays the tab

Spokane County Democrats settle AG lawsuit for $85,300 after kid glove treatment by Bob Ferguson

Representative Stonier settles lawsuit for $6.2k

Republican Caucus Leader – letter to PDC Commissioners demanding resignation of Executive Director Lopez due to bias concerns

AG judgment against Pierce County Democratic Central Committee (signed by former PDC Director Lopez representing the Pierce County Dems) dated Oct 27, 2017

Press Release -AG Ferguson names Peter Lavallee new Communications Director – December 11, 2014

December 16, 2011 AG vs. Moxie Media Campaign Finance Judgement for $290,000

November 2, 2016 – AG vs. Grocery Manufacturers Association Ruling for $19 million 

January 20, 2017 – AG vs. Wyman – Stipulation and Judgment for $12,090

The Rough Road ahead – campaign finance reform in Washington State

ShiftWA – PDC overlooks Democrat campaign finance violations – again

Seattle Times – “State GOP says campaign-watchdog agency chief is biased, must resign”

The Columbian – “Republicans renew call for PDC Chief to quit over Probst case”

UFCW Local 21 PAC – Settlement for $40,000 with PDC – Memo of Understanding

Original complaint filed by Glen Morgan against UFCW Local 21 PAC – October 29, 2018 – PDC #42719

AG Ferguson’s persecutionof Tim Eyman, Eyman’s plea, and a creepy AG employee

Dem PACs dissolve after campaign finance complaint

The Columbian – January 23, 2018 – “Local Democratic PAC plans to disband after complaints”

The Trials and Tribulations of Tina Podlodowski – Helping Democrats lose by less

Letter from 43rd Leg District Democrats claiming they have now dissolved

AG Attorney complains suing Democrat lawbreakers “unfair”, quits to sue Republicans

Seattle Times – August 6, 2017 – “State senator fined for violating campaign disclosure law”

The Olympian – August 4, 2017 – Hunt agrees to fine in campaign finance disclosure case