The Washington State Labor Council has agreed to pay over $16,000 in fines and costs related to alleged public-disclosure violations. It’s the latest development in the skirmish between unions and the Freedom Foundation.
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) has agreed to pay $16,622 in fines and costs in connection with alleged public-disclosure violations, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
The agreement comes after the Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint that the WSLC didn’t properly report in-kind and cash contributions it made to some state political committees on its lobbyist employer reports.
Those in-kind contributions included staff time, office space, phones, and postal and internet services that WSLC allegedly provided to several political committees, according to a news release by the Attorney General’s Office.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the conservative Freedom Foundation in 2015 alleging a host of campaign violations by the WSLC. The state Public Disclosure Commission investigated and determined that WSLC had not violated the law in most of the cases.
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That investigation, however, did conclude that WSLC appeared to have violated the requirement to report in-kind and cash contributions on lobbyist employer reports.
The commission then recommended the Attorney General’s Office take action against the WSLC.
In an email, WSLC spokesman David Groves described the reporting issues as “an administrative oversight.”
“As soon as this was brought to our attention, we filed revised reports and have taken steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” wrote Groves.
In its agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, WSLC received a civil penalty of $18,500. Half that amount is suspended as long as there are no further violations over the next four years, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
In addition, the organization will pay $5,240 in attorney fees and court costs, as well as $2,132 for the Public Disclosure Commission’s investigation costs.
Taking into account the suspended penalty, the WSLC will pay a total of $16,622.
The Freedom Foundation has filed several complaints or lawsuits against unions in recent years. And last year, the organization itself became a target of allegations of campaign-finance violations made by a union-backed group — a case that was later tossed by a judge.