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Home » Archives » June 2005 » Gaylord's Actions On I-912 Concern Initiative Organizers

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06/26/2005: "Gaylord's Actions On I-912 Concern Initiative Organizers"


ig_Randy_Gaylord-1 (9k image) (Randy Gaylord)

SJC Prosecutor Randy Gaylord's office has issued a press release informing the public that his office has joined follow prosecutors from Auburn, Kent and Seattle, in the filing of a lawsuit against the organizers of initiative 912. The suit charges the organizers of the initiative have raised and spent money from unidentified sources. In simple terms, the suit has asked for an injunction, and penalties, against the use of any unreported money in their campaign, to have an initiative against the tax, placed on the November ballot for a state wide vote.

The new gas tax was imposed by the State, and I-912 will remove the legislation that imposed a new tax on the sale of gasoline. Those behind I-912 believe that if they can get a full state wide vote on the tax, the public will vote against the tax. The tax has been stated to be necessary to improve existing transportation facilities and roads in some parts of the state -most notable in King county, however none of the money is earmarked for San Juan County. The suit has sparked a strong response from the organizers of I-912.


According to the release, San Juan County has become a party to the suit "because we want our future determined by a fair process, not by illegal campaign contributions… we have a lot at stake. We depend on a healthy transportation network, and the transportation package is a fair way to pay for it."

Charges of unfair or illegal contributions are, according to state law, are to be reviewed for action by the PDC (Public Disclosure Commission); but one of the prosecutors involved in the suit stated "The counties and cities took this highly unusual action, which is provided for in the public disclosure law, because the pace of a review by the Public Disclosure Commission would be too slow to be meaningful",

But Brett Bader,one of the spokesmen for the organizers of initiative 912, strongly disagreed. In an email to The Guardian, he stated that "Gaylord, Thom Carr, Dan Heid and Tom Brubaker (Note: the other prosecutors in the suit) have intentionally avoided the process created by the legislature to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. Since 1973 the Public Disclosure Commission has been the agency that addressed all forms of complaints under our state's public disclosure laws".

According to Mr. Bader, "Unfortunately, San Juan County Prosecutor Gaylord and his gang of big city prosecutors has tarnished this 33 year tradition by taking the unprecedented step of side-stepping our non-partisan Public Disclosure Commission and inserting partisan politics into the legal process governing public disclosure. Regardless of one's feelings about the merits of the gas tax or I-912, every citizen should be deeply troubled by this poisoning of our judicial system with political dirty tricks.". The attorney for the prosecutors, Mike Vaska, admitted that "this is the first time this has been done, but the urgency of the issue compelled this action.",

Both sides of the suit take notice of the Public Disclosure Commission's mandated role in such matters, but Vaska claims "The backers of this initiative are political professionals,…they know the law and they know they are openly violating it. We are through letting them get away with ignoring the disclosure law, which was overwhelmingly passed by citizen initiative.".

So while we have a case where the initiative that created the disclosure laws, is intended to be used to stop illegal actions by organizers of other proposed initiatives, we also have disagreement on the ethics of going around the PDC to enforce the laws of the PDC: according to Mr. Bader of the nonewgastax.com group, the PDC is the proper agency to enforce the laws, even though "at times, the decisions of this body have disappointed both parties, partisanship or political bias has largely been removed from the process. Indeed the policy preamble of the state's public disclosure law states "public confidence in government at all levels can best be sustained by assuring the people of the impartiality and honesty of the officials in all public transactions and decisions."

According to the Gaylord press release, "The I-912 campaign has belatedly responded to a PDC June 20 deadline for disclosure with a little over two weeks to go in the signature gathering campaign'. Gaylord is quoted as saying " This thwarts the public's right to know. We want honesty and disclosure, now, when it matters. Mr. Bader sees it, well, differently: "The chilling abuse of power by Gaylord and his gang of prosecutors has few modern parallels. You'd have to reach back to the days of John Mitchell and the Nixon Justice Department to recall such a nakedly political effort to defile our judicial system.". __

The Opposing Press Releases Follow:


Press release from Gaylord's office::
June 22, 2005
Lawsuit Challenges Illegal Contributions
Pattern of Deceit Marks Controversial Initiative-912 Drive
I-912 Campaign Blatantly Ignores State's Campaign Disclosure Law


OLYMPIA – The San Juan County prosecuting attorney and his counterparts for the cities of Auburn, Kent and Seattle have filed a lawsuit to stop Initiative 912 campaign organizers from raising and spending thousands of dollars collected illegally in their campaign to halt the repair and maintenance of our state's roads and bridges.

The state's public disclosure law requires that campaigns raising and spending more than $3,500 must file reports showing the names, addresses, occupations and employers of their contributors, the total amount each contributor has donated and how the funds were spent.
However, from day one, the I-912 campaign has wantonly ignored the state's campaign finance reporting law and failed to disclose the identities of all of its contributors. Interestingly, experienced campaigners are spearheading the I-912 effort.

"The counties and cities took this highly unusual action, which is provided for in the public disclosure law, because the pace of a review by the Public Disclosure Commission would be too slow to be meaningful," said attorney Mike Vaska, representing the counties and cities. "We believe this is the first time this has been done, but the urgency of the issue compelled this action."

The lawsuit filed in Thurston County Superior Court today seeks a preliminary injunction and penalties to stop I-912 campaign organizers from spending money from unidentified sources.
"San Juan County takes this action because we want our future determined by a fair process, not by illegal campaign contributions," said San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randall K. Gaylord. "As a county, we have a lot at stake. We depend on a healthy transportation network, and the transportation package is a fair way to pay for it."

The I-912 campaign raised $40,000 from Internet contributions in May, but concealed these funds for a month by failing to make required reports to the PDC. When it finally reported these amounts, there were no names, addresses or occupations for the contributors. All of this information is required to be reported. In June, supporters disclosed they had raised $70,000, again mostly from unidentified sources. The I-912 campaign has belatedly responded to a PDC June 20 deadline for disclosure with a little over two weeks to go in the signature gathering campaign.

"The Sunshine Laws apply to the I-912 campaign. The campaign leaders have not said where they get all of the contributions from," Gaylord said. "This thwarts the public's right to know. We want honesty and disclosure, now, when it matters. It's the little guy that will get hurt if they don't comply."
The pattern of deceit continues with initiative backers' failure to disclose the significant in-kind contributions received from Fisher Broadcasting, owners of radio station KVI. Radio hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson have spent countless hours working on campaign strategy and promotion while on the Fisher payroll, and the KVI website urges listeners to help the two get the measure on the ballot. None of these resources provided by the Seattle-based broadcasting corporation have been reported as required per state disclosure laws.

I-912 supporters are also purposely misrepresenting what the initiative would do. The official campaign petition claims that the initiative is necessary to keep the state from spending "$800 million for rail and transit projects from a tax meant to pay for better roads." However, the transportation package passed by the legislature requires gas taxes to be used for highway-related purposes. State ferries are included in this definition. The rail and transit funding in the package does not come from the gas tax but from other sources that will not be repealed by I-912.

"The backers of this initiative are political professionals," Vaska said. "They know the law and they know they are openly violating it. We are through letting them get away with ignoring the disclosure law, which was overwhelmingly passed by citizen initiative."
Washington drivers average about 12,000 miles a year and get about 17 miles per gallon. That translates into 41 cents a week more for safer roads in the coming year.
Randall K. Gaylord
San Juan County Prosecutor
P. O. Box 760
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Phone: 360-378-4101
FAX: 360-378-3180

Email from the "No New Gas Tax" group to The Guardian:

Rogue Prosecutors Threaten Free Speech in Effort to Stop Gas Tax Repeal

By Brett Bader of NoNewGasTax.com

While NoNewGasTax.com leads the historic effort to repeal the massive new gas tax hike in less than 30 days with an all-volunteer signature drive for Initiative 91, the prosecutors of San Juan County and the cities of Seattle, Auburn and Kent have corrupted the electoral process and attacked the constitutional rights of all the citizens of Washington. These prosecutors have abused the power to police fair campaigns in an effort to deny Initiative 912 its place on the November ballot.

Randall Gaylord, Thom Carr, Dan Heid and Tom Brubaker have intentionally avoided the process created by the legislature to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. Since 1973 the Public Disclosure Commission has been the agency that addressed all forms of complaints under our state's public disclosure laws. Although at times, the decisions of this body have disappointed both parties, partisanship or political bias has largely been removed from the process. Indeed the policy preamble of the state's public disclosure law states "public confidence in government at all levels can best be sustained by assuring the people of the impartiality and honesty of the officials in all public transactions and decisions." This is unlike the action by Gaylord and his gang in their effort to stop I-912.

Unfortunately, San Juan County Prosecutor Gaylord and his gang of big city prosecutors has tarnished this 33 year tradition by taking the unprecedented step of side-stepping our non-partisan Public Disclosure Commission and inserting partisan politics into the legal
process governing public disclosure. Regardless of one's feelings about the merits of the gas tax or I-912, every citizen should be deeply troubled by this poisoning of our judicial system with political dirty tricks.

These prosecutors have even given the power of the state to the opponents of I-912. Gaylord and his cohorts, Thom Carr, Dan Heid and Tom Brubaker have filed a lawsuit against I-912 by abusing an obscure and never before used provision that allows prosecutors to initiate actions typically reserved for the Public Disclosure Commission. An ordinary citizen could not bring such a lawsuit. Worse yet, even though these prosecutors have hundreds of attorneys working for them, they are paying a big downtown Seattle law firm to do their dirty work. This is the same law firm, Foster Pepper Shefelman, that is on the board of "Keep Washington Rolling"—I-912's opponents. The chilling abuse of power by Gaylord and his gang of prosecutors has few modern parallels. You'd have to reach back to the days of John Mitchell and the Nixon Justice Department to recall such a nakedly political effort to defile our judicial system.

The claims of Keep Washington Rolling's law firm are laughable. The suit seeks to silence and intimidate their opponents by attacking a quirk of internet fundraising. They ask the court to accept that small contributions over the internet from a few hundred named individuals are "bag of unmarked bills." There are no secret contributors. There is no shadow corporate sponsor. The many names of our contributors are available on the Public Disclosure Committee website. Apparently, for these prosecutors the power of the people is a corrupting influence and too threatening to their politics. Or could it be they actually fear the people having their say on the biggest tax increase in state history?

Worst of all, Gaylord, Carr, Heid and Brubaker, through their downtown Seattle law firm, are trying to restrict the free speech rights of the media. These prosecutors—accountable to you— are spending your tax dollars to silence the media coverage of Initiative 912. Actually, they are only trying to silence those members of the media who support the measure. Their action is offensive. These same members of the media, while boosting the initiative, have also invited opponents of NoNewGasTax.com on their shows as well and most have declined. Now Gaylord, Carr, Heid and Brubaker are asking the court to penalize the I-912 campaign for the expression of constitutionally protected free speech.

The lawsuit against the No New Gas Tax initiative by Gaylord, Carr, Heid and Brubaker is a sad day for the people of this state. It is ironic that these prosecutors served their lawsuit on NoNewGasTax.com on the same day that the Supreme Court upheld a city's power to take your private property for private development. Gaylord, Carr, Heid and Brubaker, are now trying to take away the constitutional right of the people of this state to repeal the gas tax. Regardless of your opinion on the gas tax repeal, their efforts are a warning that, even in this modern age, government will use every resource in order to stifle dissent.

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