AG Bob Ferguson's monthly eNewsletter
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Welcome from Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Dear Friends,

One of the fundamental duties of the Attorney General’s Office is to protect Washingtonians from powerful interests that don’t play by the rules. I take that duty seriously, and continue to fight for our state’s residents against corporations, associations, and even the federal government.

The laws of Washington are in place to ensure that the interests of the people come first. When these laws are not followed, it’s my job to step in and advocate for you.

Fighting those battles is a continual process, as you’ll read below, and I’ll continue to fight these powerful interests to protect all Washingtonians.

In this issue:

Thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office.

Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General

Holding the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association accountable

A Thurston County Superior Court judge already ruled that the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association violated Washington State campaign finance laws in its bid to defeat 2013’s GMO-labeling Initiative 522. The court is now considering whether the Association’s illegal conduct was intentional.

That determination will have significant bearing on the penalties the organization will pay. If the court rules that Association’s conduct was intentional, the penalties can be tripled.

In 2013, the Association raised $14 million from its members in solicitations for a new “Defense of Brands” account, above and beyond regular member dues. PepsiCo, for example, contributed nearly $3 million to the account, and Nestle and Coca-Cola upwards of $2 million each.

The Association then donated $11 million of the $14 million to the “No on 522” campaign. As a result, the money was listed as coming from Association, not the actual donors.

I’ve argued all along that the association knew what it was doing. Internal documents obtained during my office’s investigation reveal what we believe is an intentional effort to bypass campaign finance disclosure laws. Meeting minutes were uncovered where executives specifically discuss creating the “Defense of Brands” account so that “GMO related spending will be identified as having come from GMA, which will provide anonymity and eliminate state filing requirements for contributing members.”

Under the law, sanctions for campaign finance disclosure violations can include a penalty equal to the amount of money not reported. If the court finds that the violation was intentional, that penalty can be tripled.

This landmark case has been a long fight for accountability. The message from my office is clear: I will not allow big money donors to hide from public scrutiny. I will continue to fight to hold them accountable.

Campaign Finance round-up: Eyman, Port of Tacoma

August proved to be a busy month enforcing our campaign finance laws.
In our investigation of Tim Eyman and his political committees, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge ruled that Eyman violated a court order to disclose documents. We are also asking a Thurston County judge to find that for-profit signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions, under investigation by the AGO related to its dealings with Eyman, violated a similar order to disclose documents.

After months of roadblocks and delays, my office can now go straight to the federal government and the banks used by Eyman, the committees and Citizen Solutions to get the tax information and other documents we need to conduct our investigation.
The court already granted our motion to recover $10,000 in costs and fees from Citizen Solutions so far.
No one is above the law. I won’t allow our subpoenas to be ignored, and neither will the courts.
We also brought a new campaign finance case against officials at the Port of Tacoma, the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.
We allege that Port officials violated state law by using about $45,000 of public funds to challenge two ballot propositions promoted by the group “Save Tacoma Water.” We allege the EDB and the Chamber violated state law by failing to disclose money they spent opposing those propositions in the Port’s lawsuit — about $10,000 each.

The News Tribune
Attorney general files campaign-finance complaint against Port, chamber

Seattle Times
Tim Eyman violated order to turn over campaign-finance documents, judge says

Hanford worker safety can’t wait

My office continues to put pressure on the federal government to protect the safety of all Hanford workers. Along with Hanford Challenge and UA Local 598, I asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to immediately order the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, to implement enhanced safety and vapor monitoring measures at the Hanford work site.
The motion for a preliminary injunction steps up the pace of our ongoing lawsuit against the federal government over Hanford worker safety, which we filed in September of 2015. Workers continue to fall ill, and the federal government’s culture of indifference to their safety must end. This KING 5 story by Susannah Frame details our court filing.
A trial is set for May 22, 2017, but that is too long for workers to wait for a safe workplace. In response to my motion for the injunction, the court ordered that some interim safety measures be put in place immediately. They are a start, but not enough. We will be arguing for the much more robust safety plan our injunction calls for at a hearing on Oct. 12.
You can read about the specific protections we are asking for here.
I’ve been asking for months: How many sick Washington workers will it take before the federal government fixes this problem?
Legal papers depict Hanford managers eager to cut back on safety

Seattle Times:
Washington attorney general seeks immediate help for Hanford workers

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