Working Washington, a Seattle-based activist group, had publicly asked the attorney general in an open letter to charge Amazon with the crime of “intimidating a public servant” – a class B felony under state law.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has slapped down a union-backed activist group’s call for a felony prosecution of Amazon over the company’s threat to dial back job expansion in Seattle amid the city’s debate over a head tax on large businesses.
Working Washington, a Seattle-based activist group, had publicly asked Ferguson in an open letter to charge Amazon with the crime of “intimidating a public servant” – a class B felony under state law. The group is supporting the head-tax plan backed by five City Council members to raise an estimated $75 million a year for housing and services aimed at the homelessness crisis.
The prosecution request already had been met with skepticism and even mockery from some legal experts, who said the group was twisting a law aimed at protecting public officials from personal threats.
Ferguson, a Democrat in his second term as attorney general, agreed Friday that Working Washington’s request was legally off base.
In a letter to Dmitri Iglitzin, an attorney for Working Washington, Ferguson wrote that he generally refrains from publicly analyzing laws absent an official request for a binding attorney general opinion. But given the “significant public attention” to Working Washington’s request, Ferguson asked his staff to provide an analysis.
“After an initial assessment, we find there is no legal basis for invoking the ‘Intimidating a Public Servant’ provision of the Washington criminal code in this instance, based on the facts set forth in the letter, nor would the facts meet the burden of proof and test of culpability necessary to support a criminal prosecution,” Ferguson wrote. “I hope this message is helpful to you and your counsel.”
Working Washington spokesman Sage Wilson responded in a texted statement: “It is extraordinary that Amazon’s subprime mob boss behavior was so brutal it ignited a citywide debate over whether it was actually in fact criminal. All this because the richest human in the world wants to try to avoid stepping up to address our city’s homelessness crisis.”