Paul Allen (left) and Nick Hanauer are Billionaires happy to fund anti-2nd Amendment initiatives
When you have your own armed security, making the little people less able to defend themselves doesn’t bother you very much.
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Billionaires Paul Allen and Nick Hanauer have each given a million dollars to fund the signature gathering process for the next Washington State anti-gun initiative (I-1639).  Both billionaires have paid and well-armed security teams to protect them, so this law will have little impact on their lives.  This initiative, among other things, invents a new opportunity for gun owners to become felons by criminalizing certain gun storage behavior based on whether a criminal commits a crime with the stolen firearms.   In addition, this initiative denies 2nd Amendment rights for 18-20  year old adults, creates new waiting periods, invents a new gun tax (euphemistically called a “fee”), imposes additional repetitive background checks, creates a new gun registry, and imposes new paperwork and signage requirements for some firearm sales.   To see the actual text of the proposed initiative – download it here.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson hates gun owners

In Washington State, the Attorney General’s office is tasked with drafting a “neutral and fair” ballot title and summary which is then used to communicate the contents of the initiative to the voters.  Since so few voters read the complete text of the proposed initiatives, the importance of accuracy for the ballot title, concise statement, and initiative summary is very important so that voters understand the initiative on which they are voting and giving signatures to place on the ballot.  Historically, the Attorney General’s office has generally done this job adequately.  However, under the increasingly hyper politicized direction this agency has trended under Attorney General Bob Ferguson, these ballot titles are now often written in a manner to promote or harm certain initiatives based on the political objectives of AG Ferguson.   As the AG who is best known for marshalling the resources of his office to primarily sue the Trump administration every other week and in his spare time attack local Republicans and Republican supporters with any excuse, while treating Democratic Party violators with kid gloves, it isn’t difficult to recognize the growing partisan bias and increasing weaponization of this agency for political objectives.

In the 1960s, there was a national campaign to lower the voting age to 18. If you could fight, you could vote, but now they don’t want you to own firearms for protection.

In late March, I wrote an article about challenging a misleading ballot title the AG drafted for the Carbon Tax Initiative (I-1631).  Two years ago, a very similar initiative was accurately called a Carbon Tax (I-732) which was rejected by the voters.  After that failure, the sponsors wanted to change the language and call it “Pollution Fees” this time, a goal and objective which the AG’s office was willing to facilitate.  There is a process (see RCW 29A.72.080) to challenge a ballot title which must be initiated within 5 business days after

Ferguson claims his very public announcement of support for I-1639 didn’t influence his staff in their drafting of the ballot title

a ballot title is drafted by the AG’s office.  Any Washington State voter has standing to bring this challenge.  I wrote in detail about how this is done in this article.  This was my first attempt to challenge a ballot title, and while I failed to convince the court that the title should be changed to be more honest, the experience prepared me to try the process once again.

While the Attorney General’s staff was still working on the ballot title draft language for I-1639, their boss, Bob Ferguson came out and publicly endorsed the initiative.  This action, by itself, was unusual. This is not illegal, but it certainly is considered unethical since AG staff are not sequestered like a jury during trial while they are drafting ballot titles.  Staff are fully aware of how their boss views this issue, and this is the only example I can find in recent

Trust the AG, he would never lie about influencing staff

years where an elected AG has done this before a ballot title is even issued.  This undue influence on the ballot title drafting process raises red flags.  The AG had already endorsed and proposed earlier anti- 2nd Amendment bills in the legislature (see SB 5050 and HB 1387) which failed to garner adequate legislative support, so it appears that Ferguson was going to use the initiative process to further his political agenda against firearm ownership.

People have been concerned about Billionaire funded efforts to take away their rights for years now (photo credit: Breitbart)

The ballot title was issued on May 9th (linked here) and not surprisingly it was drafted in a manner which would be most helpful for the supporters of this initiative.  I believe the title is inaccurate and misleading.  I filed my initial ballot title challenge  on May 16th (linked here) and my opening brief (linked here).  I discovered while I was filing my initial challenge a few hours before the deadline that at least two other challenges had been filed.  One was filed by another citizen also representing himself (called “pro se”) named Joe Wilson from Whatcom County (linked here).  I found out a few days later when I was able to contact him that he read my original article on how to file a petition and he was able to use the article effectively as a template for how to file a ballot title petition.  It always makes an author feel good to get confirmation that someone is reading and utilizing the resources you post.  Mr. Wilson also filed an opening brief (linked here).  Another challenge was being filed on behalf of the initiative sponsors by Pacifica Law Group (linked here) and their response to the other challenges (linked here).  Largely, the reason they filed this challenge is defensive in nature so that they can ensure the AG and the court resist any effort by people like me to make the title more accurate and neutral.   Later, I found out that the NRA also filed a ballot title challenge (linked here).  The AG’s office then responded to all the challenges a few days later (linked here).

The first challenge for the court in this scenario is to consolidate the four different cases into one case with one judge, which makes sense for the efficiency of the court’s resources and to ensure that all the challenges can be heard and resolved in one hearing.  All parties agreed to this consolidation, which is normal in these cases.  However, the next step in the process was to set the hearing date for the ballot title challenge.  This is important because a ballot title challenge is an unusual legal animal with an understandably accelerated court schedule.  The schedule is accelerated because initiatives to the people require the signature gathering to be completed and submitted by July 7th to make it on the ballot in November.

The initiative sponsors need to gather 259,622 signatures.  Since a certain number of signatures will inevitably be invalid, and they only get one shot to turn these into the Secretary of State’s office, typically they will gather at least 15% more than required to make up for invalid signatures.  This means the sponsors basically need to gather and submit 300,000 signatures by July 7th.  They can’t start collecting signatures until the ballot title and summary is confirmed (these must, by law, be on each initiative signature sheet).  Therefore, a ballot title challenge inevitably delays the start of signature gathering.  Recognizing this fact, the court understandably has an expedited calendar for this hearing process.  The decision by the Thurston County Superior Court Judge is final.  There is no appeal.

The anti-gun sponsors of I-1639 started the process late for reasons only they know (they could have filed this initiative months earlier).  This means that they now have a limited window to collect signatures.  They will be using paid signature gatherers to do so, of course (they have billionaires to fund the effort after all), however, a reduced calendar makes it more expensive to collect these signatures in time.  The ballot title challenge inevitably shortens the time even more.  The Memorial Day weekend also caused scheduling problems with the court and the parties involved, which resulted in a variety of calendar arguments and court juggling efforts, which, in turn, has resulted in a final hearing date of June 7th to hear the ballot title challenge before former AG employee and Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy.  This is almost a month after the original ballot title was issued and will leave barely a month for the sponsors to collect 300,000 + signatures.  They can still achieve this goal because they have billionaires underwriting their efforts, but the expense will be higher than normal due to the tardy initial filing of this initiative.

The sponsors of I-1639 don’t really care about the costs, they have the cash to burn

For reference, when using paid signature gatherers and a lean operation, an initiative can be qualified for the ballot, on average, with a budget of $1.2 – $1.5 million.  It seems likely that the sponsor’s self-inflicted delays of filing the initiative late and now the ballot title challenge schedule will increase this cost to $2.8 – $3.5 million.

Most paid signature gatherers tend to be nomadic in nature and they travel state to state to collect signatures where they get paid the most.  Billionaire funding guarantees that top dollar will be paid to get these signatures, so in the last few weeks, hoards of signature gatherers have flocked to Washington State only to find themselves without the billionaire bucks.  They aren’t going to sit around idle, so they will pick up the lower budget initiative efforts like Eyman’s $30 car tabs (which is an initiative to the legislature, so he will be collecting signatures for the rest of the year), the Carbon Tax (I-1631), the no grocery tax initiative (I-1634) and even local initiatives like the no-head tax effort in Seattle.  The delay has probably proven to be a boon for these efforts while the signature gatherers pass their time waiting for the Allen/Hanauer Billionaire bucks to be released on I-1639.

Will any of us be able to convince a judge to change the ballot title next week?  It is possible, but the deck is typically stacked against the petitioner.  Judges historically give enormous deference to the AG and their original language as a matter of course.  Judicial discretion is weighted heavily in the state’s favor (particularly in Thurston County Superior Court where many of the judges once worked in the AG’s office).  Additionally, the Pacifica Law Group, which represents the sponsor of the initiative and many other Leftist causes, is also a strong financial backer of AG Bob Ferguson with at least $13,233 in direct donations by partners and attorneys over the past few years (not including spouses, children, friends, etc).  This law firm is politically aligned with the AG’s office and has demonstrated unusual influence on language changes, even to the point where the AG’s employees will agree to not even fight their ballot title challenges (as they did recently in the ballot title challenge to the grocery tax bill).  However, we can only make a difference if we show up, and next Thursday I expect to give it my best effort, as I am sure Mr. Wilson and the NRA attorneys will as well.  Hopefully, we can convince Judge Murphy to make at least some changes in order for the ballot title to be accurate and honest.  The voters deserve to know the truth about this billionaire funded initiative.



Additional Background articles and documents:

AG’s ballot title for I-1639 issued May 9, 2018

Final Text of proposed Initiative 1639

AG Ferguson – donations from Pacifica Law Group – 2012 & 2016 campaigns – simple list not including spouses or relatives

Glen Morgan’s Filed Ballot Title Petition – I-1639- 18-2-02564-34 – May 16-2018

Ballot Title Challenge to I-1639 – Consolidated Case Schedule Order (under Case #18-2-02506-34)

Agreed Motion To Consolidate ballot title challenges to I-1639

Glen Morgan – Opening Brief – Ballot Title Petition – I-1639 18-2-02564-34 – May 21, 2018

AG response to petitioners ballot title challenge – I-1639 – May 24, 2018

I-1639 -Sponsors’ Response Brief to ballot title language challenge – May 24, 2018

Joe Wilson challenge to ballot title  – I-1639 – May 16, 2018

Opening Brief of Joe Wilson, Pro Se – I-1639 Ballot Title challenge – May 21, 2018

Sponsors – Petition to Appeal Ballot Title – I-1639 – May 16-2018

NRA’s Opening Brief – Ballot Title Challenge I-1639 – May 21-2018

Liberty Park Press – May 17, 2018 – “Ballot Title Challenges Filed v. WA Gun Control Initiative”

The Conservative Firing Line – May 17, 2018 – “WA initiative battle heats as gun control measure challenged”

Ammoland – May 26, 2018 – “West Coast Plutocrats target Washington State gun owners again”

Seattle Times – May 21, 2018 – “Paul Allen, Nick Hanauer give $1M each to Washington state initiative pushing new firearms regulations” – May 22, 2018 – “Nick Hanauer hates big money but just donated $1 million to anti-gun initiative”

GunMag – May 22, 2018 – “Anti-Gun Billionaires Pour Money Into WA Gun Control Initiative”

NRA-ILA – May 17, 2018 – “Washington: NRA Files Legal Challenge Against Misleading Ballot Title for Gun Control Initiative”

Washington State Wire – April 25, 2018 – “AG Ferguson announces support of gun-related initiative”

NW News Network – April 23, 2018 – “In Unusual Move, Washington Attorney General Endorses Gun-Related Ballot Measure”

Full Text of Initiative 1631 – (The 2018 Carbon Tax – now called “Pollution Fees”)

Washington State Secretary of State – website tracking proposed initiatives 2018

Why I’m challenging the AG’s misleading ballot title for I-1631 – the Carbon Tax

March 20, 2018 – Letter from AG to Secretary of State providing final ballot title and description for Initiative 1631

March 27, 2015 – Letter from AG to Secretary of State providing final ballot title and description for Initiative 732 (This was the first Carbon Tax initiative rejected by voters in 2016)

Full Text of Initiative 732 – failed 2016 Carbon Tax initiative

Secretary of State’s 2017 initiative and referenda handbook (page 6 was exhibit D)


  1. 25) “Semiautomatic assault rifle” means any rifle which
    utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract
    the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which
    requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.

    So, ALL semi-automatic firearms are now “Assault Rifles”. Got it.

    • Yeah, that was the plan – they felt that since the historic definition of those words didn’t fit the political agenda, they wanted to redefine it for political reasons in this initiative.

    • I wasn’t really paying much attention to race, but you do raise the point that it is mostly white people trying to fund this effort to take away 2nd Amendment rights. Similar to how the origin of gun control in this nation was mostly an effort to disarm freed slaves in the south or immigrants in the Northeast.

    • What does being a “White Guy” have to do with it? The Second Amendment along with the other 26 Constitutional Amendments are color blind.

      • Cliff, I think some people just reflexively see everything in racial terms. They are unable to be color blind or view anything without their racial perceptions. It is sad.

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