In Washington State, the King County Democrats and Republicans issued a joint press release today celebrating their agreement with this author on the need for campaign finance reform. This appears to be the first time both political groups have joined together like this. Joy is in the air. Neither President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders nor President Trump were able to achieve such a unification of the political parties. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it is worth sharing a feel good story about what unity rather than division. Leaked rumors imply that leaders of both political parties will be gathering around a campfire in King County this weekend (assuming they can get the proper environmental permits) and sing Kumbaya. We live in epic and glorious days.
Amidst the excitement and joy of common ground recently
found, there are some lingering questions. For example, the joint press release argues that the fines paid by the politicians and political committees who have been caught violating the state’s campaign finance laws are “wasted.” However, these fines are paid to the general fund for the state of Washington. It is understandable and ideologically consistent for the Republicans to see this money as “wasted.” However, the Democrats should celebrate and enjoy paying these fines. After all this money will presumably be used to fulfill the McCleary requirements to fully fund public education. These campaign finance fines function like a tax – and Democrats believe taxes are too low right now. In fact, these fines could be considered just another cool tax (not as awesome as Seattle’s income tax or head tax, or the B&O tax, but still pretty cool)- this time taxing the failure to follow political speech rules. The Democrats, at least, should be celebrating this tax, but perhaps the Republicans are having a greater influence on the Democrats than many people first imagined. Something to ponder.
Another question this press release raises is the reference to “frivolous complaints.” Five days earlier the Washington State Democrats issued a press release bragging about 40 campaign finance complaints they filed with the Washington State Attorney General’s office. Presumably, these are the very frivolous complaints this joint press release attacked. Will the King County Democrats demand the Washington State Democrats withdraw their “frivolous complaints?” Perhaps the State Party and the King County Democrats need to coordinate their efforts and messaging a bit better. Or is it possible that “frivolous complaints” are only those filed against their respective allies, while the complaints that are filed against the other side are serious violations of the law?
This Thanksgiving, there is no need to throw cold water on this recent bi-partisan love fest with uncomfortable questions like these. Celebration is in the air, and we should all be thankful both political parties have finally and officially joined this author in recognizing the need to reform our state’s campaign finance laws. This has been a long time coming and a lot of late nights filing complaints to get here. It might be too much to wear the mantle of “The Great Unifier” (not everyone shares this sentiment as several images from recent Facebook admirers demonstrate). However, this certainly isn’t about this author or the tiny part my modest 300 campaign finance complaints have contributed towards nudging the two sides together in unity. How we got here is less important than the fact we all, at long last, agree. It is great to see a plan come together with so much joy and clarity.
I am particularly proud of King County Democratic Party Chair Bailey Stober who has linked arms with the Republicans. He is a tremendous asset to the Democratic Party, and Stober is my second favorite Democratic County Party Chair in Washington State (my favorite is Boudicca Walsh, a self-described trans radical witch of Olympia, and the new, very successful chair of the Thurston County Democrats). Stober has an impressive history of campaign finance violations including fines and legal action against him by the Washington State Attorney General. Stober has also filed his own “frivolous complaint” against
a Republican legislator earlier this year. In addition to his first hand experience with violating the campaign finance laws, he inherited a real mess with the King County Democrats who are currently in court (and also sued by the AG), for impressive and widespread violations of the campaign finance laws. Most of these violations occurred under the pre-Stober regime when the previous treasurer quit, drove to Olympia to the Public Disclosure Commission, dropped off all files, cash box, and laptop outside their office door, and caused a bomb scare the next morning when staff had to call in the Olympia Police bomb squad. That was the low compliance point for the King County Democrats. Under Stober’s guidance, and the far more professional and a very competent new treasurer (one of the best in the state for the Democrats, in my opinion), those bad old days of noncompliance should mostly be behind them.
Bailey Stober indicated on his Facebook post sharing the recent joint press release that he didn’t have the time to file PDC complaints (at least since the last one he filed), but, fortunately, I will make the time and while I have not been very productive lately, Lori Sotelo, the King County Chair of the Republican Party has helpfully given me the blessing of more time to file many more complaints since she demanded Republican committees disinvite me from speaking in King County. To Sotelo’s credit, this frees up a lot of time (With my south-end commute, I save 6-7 hours every time I don’t do a presentation in King County – worth at least another 10-12 new bonus complaints). I appreciate the extra time to get work done, and I’m thankful for Sotelo’s recent support of my efforts. These additional complaints will help ensure that nobody forgets the prime objective of reforming the law next year. We all have many reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving season. This political unity is another example to add to our collective list. We can all learn from this joyous experience. If we just stick to our objective of changing the law, we can eventually convince even arch rivals to come together and fix the problem. Next year is shaping up to be awesome, and someone should really start the process of getting that campfire permit.
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:
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