For Immediate Release: Contact:
HOLD FOR RELEASE Attorney Michael Withey
Attorney Knoll Lowney
NOTICE OF PRESS CONFERENCE
TODAY, JULY 25TH
51 floor conference room, Two Union Square
601 Union Street, Seattle
BUILDING INDUSTRY OF WASHINGTON (BIAW)
ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN FINANCING
Two former Supreme Court Justices seek to hold BIAW accountable:
Millions raised to influence gubernatorial election
(SEATTLE) – A secret campaign war chest created by leaders of a statewide
builder’s association to influence this fall’s gubernatorial election has been
openly challenged by a group that includes two prestigious former State
Supreme Court justices: Robert Utter and Faith Ireland.
The amount of money amassed by the BIAW has been estimated at upwards
of $3.5 million. Contrary to state law, the BIAW and the Master Builders
Association of King and Snohomish County (MBA) are not registered as a
Political Committees, nor have they publicly disclosed the sources of their
A letter signed by two former Supreme Court Justices, BIAW’s Trust
Beneficiaries, and A-1 Builders (a beneficiary of the BIAW trust) was sent
this morning to Attorney General Rob McKenna, King County Prosecutor
Daniel Satterberg, Snohomish County Prosecutor Janice Ellis, and Thurston
County Prosecutor Ed Holm, notifying them of their intent to file suit against
the BIAW and MBA in 45 days unless the elected prosecutors commence
their own enforcement action before that time. Seattle attorneys Knoll
Lowney and Mike Withey sent the letter today to the elected prosecutors.
Sending the 45-day notice letter is required before plaintiffs may take legal
action. (Copies of the letter and supporting documents will be offered to
members of the media attending today’s press conference).
The PDC’s rules are clear about “Political Committee” formation and
expenditures. Any organization soliciting money for the purpose of
achieving or influencing electoral goals must register as a Political
Committee with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), and
all of the Political Committee’s financial records must be open to public
Former Justice Faith Ireland supports the effort to force transparency in the
electoral process. “Washington has good public disclosure laws and when
they are enforced, we will have a transparent, accountable political process.
Without enforcement, sneak tactics and last minute ambush can unfairly
influence the outcome of important races,” Ireland stated.
Former Justice Robert Utter agrees. “I believe the actions of the BIAW
violate the letter and spirit of the public disclosure law in this campaign
season and in past seasons as well. The law provides for a process to test
these concerns. I look forward to a successful determination of the issues.”
According to attorney Mike Withey, this is an issue that voters should care
about. “Unless the PDC and Attorney General act immediately, the millions
raised by the BIAW without proper disclosure will illegally influence this
year’s gubernatorial election.”
“The public’s right to know of the financing of political campaigns far
outweighs any claim the BIAW asserts to secrecy and privacy. This is the
law and policy of this state. The law must be enforced,” Withey added.
Some of the evidence documenting that the BIAW and its affiliates
misappropriated trust funds to build the massive campaign fund came from
BIAW and MBA meeting minutes and internal emails. Information
contained in the documents show that the BIAW amassed at least $3.5
million for the explicit use of influencing this year’s election for Governor.
Other races, including local races and the race for Supreme Court Justice,
were also targeted.
“This may be the most significant violation of campaign finance laws in
state history,” stated attorney Knoll Lowney. “As key players in
Washington politics, there is no question that the BIAW knows it is
violating the law.”
“What makes the situation worse is that their campaign monies come from
trust funds that were misappropriated from thousands of small employers
across the state,” concludes Lowney.
In a related matter, a class action suit (RE Sources v. BIAW) is pending in
Thurston County. That lawsuit, filed by BIAW trust beneficiaries, alleges
that BIAW funneled trust money that was earmarked for marketing and
promoting worker safety into their political activities. That class action
seeks accounting, preservation and restoration of the BIAW trust fund.
Questions relating to this action may also be answered at the press
REPORTERS ATTENDING THE PRESS CONFERENCE
TODAY WILL RECEIVE COPIES OF THE LETTER AND
SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS SENT TO THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL AND PROSECUTING ATTORNEYS TODAY.
ATTORNEYS WITHEY AND LOWNEY AND JUSTICE
IRELAND WILL ALSO ANSWER REPORTERS’ QUESTIONS.