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Complaint: Right-wing group hid ‘right-to-work’ political activity

The following is from the Committee for Transparency in Elections:

OLYMPIA (Feb. 19, 2015) — The Committee for Transparency in Elections filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office Wednesday alleging that the Freedom Foundation failed to report fundraising and expenditures in support of eight local initiatives in 2014.

freedom-foundation-dark-moneyOver the past year, the Freedom Foundation helped write, collect signatures, present testimony, and provide legal support for four pairs of “Right to Work” ballot measures in Chelan, Sequim, Shelton, and Blaine. Despite raising and spending untold thousands of dollars supporting these initiatives, the Freedom Foundation failed to report any of this activity to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), a clear violation of state law.

“People have a right to know who is pushing ballot measures in their community and who is paying for it,” said Lynne Dodson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and an officer of the Committee for Transparency in Elections. “Most groups take pride in openly, transparently advocating for their cause. But in this case, the Freedom Foundation actively fundraised to support these ballot measures, but failed to report its expenditures, and refuses to disclose its donors. Citizens have no idea who is behind the curtain.”

Washington has some of the strictest election transparency and disclosure laws in the nation. State laws proscribe substantial fines for violations of RCW 42.17A, including civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. However, the main goal of the Committee for Transparency in Elections is to force the Freedom Foundation to disclose all the money raised and spent in support of their initiatives.

The SEIU State Council and the Washington State Labor Council formed the Committee for Transparency in Elections to advocate for increased disclosure and transparency in elections. This is the first legal action for the Committee, which will report all money raised and spent to the PDC. If the Attorney General fails to act on this “45-Day Letter,” the PAC will consider pursuing civil action against the Freedom Foundation.


mccabe-tomSince former BIAW leader Tom McCabe took over as the Freedom Foundation’s CEO in late 2013, the organization has taken a hard-right turn and focused its mission on attacking unions and working people in Washington. The centerpiece of this work last year was four pairs of local “Right to Work” initiatives around the state. While the Freedom Foundation would like the public to believe that citizens organized and led these efforts, the complaint includes extensive evidence of the Freedom Foundation taking credit for these ballot measures with donors and their members in local meetings.

Notably, the city councils in all four cities rejected the ballot measures as illegal. The Freedom Foundation has since provided legal support for the citizens to sue the cities to appeal the decision. Read more about the ballot measures in Chelan, Sequim, and Blaine.

ALSO at The Stand:

Right-wing Freedom Foundation swept, but still suing away (Oct. 17, 2014)

Cities reject extremist group’s push for ‘right-to-work’ (Sept. 9, 2014)

McCabe’s Freedom Foundation plans legal assault on labor (June 9, 2014)

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