A so called independent out of state PAC calling itself “Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse” has filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. They have so far spent some $357,500 to produce and run attack ads opposing Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and supporting his opponent – Building Industry Association of Washington backed lawyer John Groen.
They also intend they say to spend money supporting Stephen Johnson, another BIAW candidate in his race to unseat sitting Justice Susan Owens.
Their filing and tactics are one meant to deceive Washington voters. They list their address as PO Box 30223, Alexandria, Virginia 22310. And I believe they violate Washington’s Public Disclosure Act.
RCW 42.17.020 (43) states that the “Sponsor of an electioneering communications, independent expenditures, or political advertising” means the person paying for the electioneering communication, independent expenditure, or political advertising. If a person acts as an agent for another or is reimbursed by another for the payment, the original source of the payment is the sponsor.
A phone call to 571-230-2852 – the contact number of the mysteriously named PAC supporting Groen only results in a message machine asking you to leave a message.
A call to the number that faxed the forms to the PDC, a Mike O’Malley, results in the following message. “Hi, you’ve reached the O’Malleys. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible. And have a great day.” That must be a home number. They must be rich! So far it looks like they’ve contributed $400,000 to their (sic) PAC.
A Cari O’Malley is the only person’s name on the PDC forms filed. She lists herself as both treasurer and campaign manager/media contact.
So who is this Cari O’Malley. When I called the phone number, 425-868-2695 which was given for where campaign records will be available to look at 10 days prior to the election and asked who the ATLA -WA was, a woman said they were only a local contact and that I should call Cari O’Malley at 202-682-1163. Oops, wrong number to give out.
Because this is where it gets interesting. That number is actually the number for a Carolyn O’Malley that works for the American Tort Reform Coalition. Under their staff she is listed as:
Carolyn O’Malley Director of Public Affairs and Fields Operations firstname.lastname@example.org
Cari joined ATRA in September of 2004. Cari was Regional Political Director for the American Medical Association. She also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee and spent several years working for the Illinois General Assembly and the Illinois Republican Party.
Are they the source of the money? Most likely. The reason they work the filing out of Virginia is that PAC’s in Virginia only have to file quarterly with the Virginia Board of Elections and they aren’t required to say much. On the last reporting they had almost nothing in the bank and the next reporting is Oct 15. In the fourth quarter last year they received $150,000 – all from the America Tort Reform Coalition. This was all spent.
Where is this new money coming from that they are now spending to try to influence the outcome of an election on the opposite side of the country that should be one decided by our own state’s voters, not some special interest group in Washington D.C.? And why all the secrecy and deception trying to hide who they are? They have set up a dummy PAC , used a PO Box number for an address, set up an answering machine on some dummy phone line to give the appearance that they are an actual organization, and have an employee’s husband (?) FAX PDC reports to Washington State from their home.
Maybe they have something to hide because the American Tort Reform Coalition has definite connections to Washington State. Which raises serious questions. Where is their money coming from? Has money moved from Washington State to the American Tort Reform Coalition to Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse then back to Washington State? I raise this question because it is obvious that their intent is to not be open in their dealing with Washington State voters. You don’t go to all this trouble unless you have something to hide, do you?
One thing they may be trying to hide is their Washington State Connection. The American Tort Reform Coalition says that “One of ATRA’s greatest assets is its network of tort reform advocates (state coalitions) that advance ATRA’s agenda in state capitals”
Their Washington State coalition contact – none other than the office which said they were only a “local contact” and who did not want to talk about or tell me who Americans Tried of Lawsuit Abuse was. That is the Washington State Liability Reform Coalition
Now guess who they recommended in the Alexander/Groen race. Yep, Groen. Now guess who are members of the Liability Reform Coalition. None other than high spending Groen backers like the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington).
Also as members, the Washington State Restaurant Association which gave $25,000 to the BIAW’s PAC Walking for Washington, SAFECO (U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick’s old company), Washington Roundtable, Association of Washington Business, Boeing, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and Weyerhauser. You can see a complete list here.
So who really gave the money to support Groen? The American Tort Reform Coalition only has a sample list of members which includes Boeing. All we have is Cari O’Malley’s name and her direct association with the American Tort Reform Coalition. But ATRA also has another list of members associated with the Lawsuit Abuse Reform Coalition which is also run out of the offices of the American Tort Reform Coalition, using the same address and phone number.
The American Tort Reform Association serves as the Executive Secretariat for LARC. 1101 Connecticut Avenue, #400, NW Washington, DC 20036 202-682-1163. The Lawsuit Abuse Coaltion also has Washington State connections listed. Their list of members include the Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington State Liability Reform Coalition.
It also includes another big money player from 2 years ago – the US Chamber of Commerce which contributed over $1.5 million dollars to help defeat Deborah Senn and elect Rob McKenna Washington State Attorney General. And they also tried to hide that the money was coming from them. Are they involved again?
Once again a mysterious out of state special interest group is trying to influence the outcome of Washington State elections in a major way. They are deliberately making an effort to conceal the true source of the money which violates Washington State law.
It is obvious that Cari O’Malley is only acting as an agent to transfer money, probably her employer’s, the American Tort Reform Coalition. And she is trying to mask this. But maybe it’s somebody elses money. That is not clear. The fact that the true source of the contributions is being hidden is in violation of Washington State’s Public Disclosure Law, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found out when it tried to hide its’ $1.5 million effort to defeat Debra Senn.