Attorney General Rob McKenna is in a tough spot. The PDC has asked the Washington State Attorney General to consider legal action against the BIAW – the Building Industry Association of Washington. But the BIAW PACS are his friends and contibuted heavily to McKenna’s election in 2004.
As reported in the Seattle Times on Wednesday:
The state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) ruled Monday that the builders violated several campaign laws by not properly reporting more than $500,000 in contributions that passed through a BIAW subsidiary and to a political-action committee, ChangePAC, opposing Gregoire.
The PDC referred the case to McKenna’s office, which will decide by Friday whether to pursue legal action.
What the article doesn’t mention is that Rob McKenna has a clear conflict of interest and needs to recuse himself from this case. MajorityRules Blog wrote about this in several of its early posts in 2005. Rob McKenna benefited from donations given to BIAW’s ChangePAC 2004 which shuffled the money to another of its PAC’s “It’s Time for a Change”.
Change PAC, Change PAC 2004, and It’s Time for a Change are all BIAW PAC’s. The same mailing address appears for all 3 PAC’s, namely PO Box 1909, Olympia, WA 98507. Elliott Swaney, the BIAW’s Political Affairs Director has been the treasurer for all 3 PAC’s and the phone number listed for contact information 360-352-7800 is the main phone number for the BIAW’s office in Olympia.
It’s Time for a Change raised some $1,058,539 in 2004. A quick look shows that ChangePAC 2004 contributed some $867,818 of that amount in cash. Because Swaney was the treasurer of both organizations one wonders if he put the check in the mail when he sent it from PO Box 1909 to PO Box 1909.
One wonders where the PDC was on all this because the BIAW never listed these PAC’s as affiliated with them.
The BIAW’s It’s Time for a Change also deliberately obscured how it was spending over $200 thousand dollars by not clearly identifying what candidate it was making specific expenditures for or against. BIAW’s “It’s Time for a Change” spent a minimum of $415,580 in independent expenditures on the McKenna/Senn race for Attorney General in 2004 – supporting Rob McKenna and opposing Deborah Senn.
It appears to have spent some $421,427 opposing Chris Gregoire and supporting Dino Rossi for Governor. The only identified additional expenditure was $12,500 to support Jim Johnson for State Supreme Court.
This leaves some $208,714 that is not identified as to who it was spent supporting or oposing. If all of this money was spent for Rob McKenna, he was the beneficiary of up to $624,294 collected by the BIAW.
Rob McKenna needs to appoint an independent prosecutor to look at this case and decide what to do. He is too close to the problem. Rob McKenna personally thanked the BIAW after the election in 2004 for their “independent efforts” to help get him elected.
One has to question just how vigerously an Attorney General who benefited by the actions of the BIAW’s PAC’s in 2004 would go after prosecuting the current violations alleged by the PDC.
Rob McKenna has a clear conflict of interest in this case.