WA Attorney General Files Complaint Against Freedom Foundation Alleging Campaign Violations

On October 28, 2016, Washington State’s Attorney General filed a complaint “alleging campaign finance violations by the Freedom Foundation. Specifically, the AGO alleges that the Freedom Foundation failed to properly and timely file independent expenditure reports disclosing money it spent to oppose statewide ballot measures.” According to a press release issued by the Attorney General’s Office, the Campaign to Prevent Fraud and Protect Seniors alleged that the Freedom Foundation repeatedly violated the state’s public disclosure laws, including “that the Freedom Foundation failed to report independent expenditures it was making to oppose Initiative 1501 and that the Freedom Foundation was an unregistered and non-reporting political committee.”

According to the complaint, the Freedom Foundation spent funds opposing Initiative 1501 including “payment of staff salaries while they were engaged in opposition activities and payment for the creation and maintenance of an opposition website,” assisted in the “preparation and presentation” of the video voter guide statement opposition Initiative 1501, and even participated in an editorial board meeting with the Seattle Times to oppose the initiative. All of these activities were undertaken well before the Freedom Foundation’s first independent expenditure filing on September 20, 2016.

We’re not surprised. The Freedom Foundation is led by Tom McCabe, who was ousted from the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) in 2010 after the organization wasted $11 million on conservative candidates in Washington and paid almost $300,000 in fines and fees for skirting campaign finance laws. The BIAW took a left-turn after McCabe’s reign, even contributing to Democratic candidates, because the BIAW represents actual business people who employ workers and build things in Washington. [The Olympian, 12/10/15; Seattle Times, 9/6/11]

McCabe appears to be up to his old tricks: wasting money on far-right fever dreams and running afoul of the law in the process. I hope the Freedom Foundation is saving up for that buyout.