Tag Archives: Building Industry Association of Washington

BIAW Dumps $100,000 into Initiative1067 Campaign to Privatize State’s Industrial Insurance

PDC reports filed for March show that the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) has just dumped $100,000 into their Initiative 1067 campagn.  Word is that they have hired Roy Ruffino’s Citizen Solutions of Lacey, WA to start collecting signatures using paid signature gatherers. Citizen Solutions has run previous paid signature campaigns for Tim Eyman’s initiative efforts.

As David Ammons of the Washington Secretary of State’s Office notes in his blog From Our Corner, the initiative is:

aimed at ending the state-run workers’ comp insurance program, which covers 2.5 million workers with coverage for work-related injuries, including lost-time compensation, medical care and other services.

The BIAW initiative, filed with the state Elections Division …would transition the state from the government-run plan to a privatized system. Currently the state covers 171,000 employers, but some of the larger companies are allowed to self-insure.”

Here is the official ballot title and summary for Initiative 1067:

Ballot Title
Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1067 concerns industrial insurance.
Concise Description: This measure would establish a joint legislative task force to develop legislation that would eliminate Washington’s state-run industrial insurance fund by December 1, 2011, with recommendations to the legislature by February 1, 2011.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would establish a joint legislative task force on industrial insurance privatization consisting of sixteen members: eight legislators, five representatives of business, two representatives of insurers, and one representative of labor. The task force would be directed to develop proposed legislation that would eliminate the state industrial insurance fund by December 1, 2011. Task force recommendations would be provided to the legislature by February 1, 2011. The legislature would provide staff and budget support.

One obvious negative impact for workers in this proposal is obvious in the proposed task force mentioned above. Besides 8 Legislators: the committee has 5 business representatives, 2 insurers and only 1 labor representative. Yet the issue is about providing worker’s compensation for injured or sick workers. This committee composition immediately sets up a bias against workers.

David Groves of the Washington State Labor Council writing in Outside the Echo Chamber notes that Washington State has the fifth lowest employer costs of any state.

One of the most persistent myths about Washington state’s business climate is that our workers’ compensation costs are higher than in most other states. The fact that many employers and public policymakers believe this to be true is another indication of the power and resonance of the negative internal rhetoric about our competitiveness.

….In fact, the gap between the truth and the negative rhetoric about our workers’ compensation costs is shocking. Not only do we have comparatively low premiums, by the national measure most often cited, the workers’ compensation costs to employers in Washington state are the fifth lowest of any state in the nation.

Despite these low costs, Washington’s model state-run system is able to provide comparatively high benefits to injured workers. That’s how this myth took hold that Washington is not competitive in this area. Business lobbying groups continually and deliberately decry the level of benefits –not employers’ actual costs — in their quest to cut premiums even further.”

We are sure to be in an intense campaign of misinformation and disinformation from the BIAW about this measure. The BIAW has previously run an initiative campaign against ergonomic standards for workers which grossly misrepresented the facts. They also have dumped enormous amounts of money into political campaigns to try to elect their candidates to the Washington State Supreme Court as well as backing Dino Rossi for Governor and Rob McKenna for Attorney General.

Rob McKenna Needs to Appoint an Independent Prosecutor to Pursue BIAW Case!

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.

BIAW and Rossi Conducting Stealth Campaign for Governor

Public Disclosure be Damned! So say Dino Rossi and the BIAW in their early starting rematch with Governor Christine Gregoire. Both are conducting efforts to get Rossi elected and both are not reporting to the PDC their real campaign efforts .

As Andrew over at the NW Progressive Blog writes in his post Walking for Washington, the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) is the main funder behind the Walking for Washington PAC which it turns out is once again a “Walking for Rossi” PAC. They have been going door to door canvassing for a number of months now asking voters survey questions starting out with a “Would you vote for Rossi or Gregoire for Governor?”‘ first question.

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission reports that Walking for Washington has raised some $125,618 total. The BIAW gave $90,000 in cash and $15,193 in kind. The remainder was transferred from another BIAW PAC, It’s Time for a Change, which has the same BIAW address and treasurer, as the Walking for Washington PAC.

Where the BIAW and it’s Walking for Washington PAC skirt state law and are a stealth campaign, is that they never report for what candidate they are spending money doing the survey and voter id work for. They are trying to slide this work under the radar so to speak. They have never filed paperwork with the PDC declaring what candidate or candidates they are spending money supporting or opposing. They merely report expenditures for individual contractors with no mention of the race or candidate they are involved with.

In fact they repeatedly check off as no the statement “During the Reporting Period, did the committee make an independent expenditure (ie an expense not considered a contribution) supporting or opposing a state or local candidate?”

OK please explain to me how a committee which previously supported Rossi and that is asking voters about issues to micro target them and that asks them if they would vote for Rossi or Gregoire for Governor is not making an expenditure supporting Rossi and opposing Gregoire?

It is obvious that they are opposing Gregoire and supporting Rossi from both the questions asked about the Governor’s race and the fact that this is the identical work of micro targeting based on a list of issues the voters support or oppose, just as they did for Rossi in his 2004 Gubernatorial campaign.

Meanwhile Rossi himself is running as a candidate without filing with the PDC as a candidate. He is doing this through his traveling and speaking for his foundation Forward Washington. David Goldstein writes about this in a post entitled “Forward Washington, Rewind Rossi

We first wrote about this this in a post last December entitled “Rossi Starts Run for Governor

So what’s wrong with these guys? Why can’t they be straightforward with Washington voters and admit what they are up to? Why are they bending over backward to skirt state law rather than be honest with the voters as to what they are up to.

Voters should interpret this behavior for what it is – dishonesty. It is a ridiculous attempt to hide campaign activities. Who do they think they are fooling? Voters should read Rossi’s actions as indicative of the type of Governor he would be.

It portrays Rossi as a politician that you can’t trust to tell the truth or that doesn’t care to treat voters with respect. It’s one of “I don’t give a damn about public disclosure and the voters knowing what I am really doing.” Let it be a warning – a flashing light or a buzzer that gives you pause and makes you wonder just how open and honest Rossi would be as Governor.

Two of Three Washington State Supreme Court Races to be Decided in Primary!

Washington State primary voters on Sept 19, 2006 will decide at least two of the three Washington State Supreme Court races this year. Washington State has this odd law. For most judicial races, if someone wins a majority in the primary, they win the election. There is no general election vote.

According to the official state webpage of Washington Courts:

“In most instances, a judicial candidate who is unopposed or who receives more than half of the votes in a primary election is thereby elected to the position–he or she does not have to run in the November general election. But if there are three or more candidates, and no one wins more than half the votes cast, the two with the most votes must face each other in the November general election.” (The exception is some district court races.)

In two of the three Washington State’s Supreme Court races this year only two candidates filed. That means that who wins these two seats will be decided by primary voters on Sept 19, 2006. The third race has 5 candidates but if anyone receives a majority in the primary, this election is also over.

The two races that will be decided in the primary are for position #8 between incumbent Gerry L Alexander and John Groen; and for position #9 between incumbent Tom Chambers and Jeanette Burrage.
State Supreme Court Justice Position #8

Gerry L Alexander is currently the Washington State Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, having twice been elected to this position by his peers. Justice Alexander was first elected to the state’s Supreme Court in 1994 and was reelected by Washington voters in 2000. From 1973 to 1984 he was a Superior Court Judge. He served on the Court of Appeals from 1985 to 1994.

John Groen is the candidate recruited by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) to run against Alexander. It is part of their continued effort to stack the state Supreme Court with so called “property rights advocates” who oppose growth management. While Groen has argued cases before the Supreme Court, he has never been a judge in any of Washington’s lower courts.

Groen was the only judicial candidate to ignore the spirit of the campaign contribution law passed by the Washington State Legislature earlier this year.

While other candidates, including his opponent, chose to abide by the new limits before they went into effect, Groen collected some $128,000 that was over the contribution limit of $2800 for the primary and general election.

(Actually now with filing ended, because the primary will decide this election, candidates in this race will only be able to accept $1400 per contributor, as of the date the law went into effect. The same goes for position #9.)

State Supreme Court Justice Position #9

Tom Chambers is an incumbent Supreme Court Justice, first elected in 2000. He was past President of the Washington State Bar Association and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. He has written over 100 articles and has been active in community organizations.

Jeanette Burrage was the executive director for 5 years of the conservative NW Legal Foundation which pushed so called “property rights” issues. She was involved in drafting Referendum 48 to limit growth management and zoning . Voters decisively defeated R-48. Initiative 933 this year is another incarnation of this same attempt to gut growth management by pushing a “pay or waive” proposal on growth management.

Burrage ran previously for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. She served one term as a King County Superior Court Judge but lost the next election. The King County Bar Association in the past has rated her as “unqualified”. You can read more about her in a recent comment thread on Postman on Politics.

State Supreme Court Justice Position #8

Five candidates are running for this position.

Justice Susan Owens is the incumbent. She ran and won her seat in 2000. Prior to that, she was a District Court Judge in Western Clallam County for 17 years. For 5 years she as the Quileute Tribe’s Chief Judge and for 7 years the Chief Judge of the Lower Elwa S’Klallan Tribe.

Until filing week, Steve Johnson, the candidate recruited by the BIAW, was her chief opponent. By the end of filing last week, three other candidates filed for this seat; Michael Johnson, Richard Smith and Norm Erickson.

If any one of these candidates receives a majority in the primary vote, they will win the election on Sept 19th, otherwise the top two vote getters will appear on the November General Election ballot.

The wild card in these races will be the BIAW’s free spending politics to win more seats on the Supreme Court at any cost. Unfortunately the new campaign contribution limitations law to limit contributions in judicial races has a significant loophole. It does not limit contributions to so called independent PAC’s.

This loophole was exploited in 2004 when the BIAW spent lavishly “independently” to help elect Rob McKenna as Washington State’s Attorney General.

Also previously the BIAW spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help elect two other members to the State Supreme Court, Richard Saunders and Jim Johnson. When there were no contribution limits on judicial races, a lot of this was given directly to the campaigns.

As noted in the PI:

In 2004, the BIAW and its affiliates helped elect Jim Johnson to the Supreme Court by pouring more than $225,000 into his campaign. Johnson outspent his opponent more than 3 to 1 and on the court has been a reliable defender of property rights — a key issue for the home builders.

Again this year large amounts of money are being spent independently by PACs run by the BIAW. This year they are running an independent PAC called Walking for Washington.
As the Seattle PI noted:

The Building Industry Association of Washington, or BIAW, which promotes a conservative, pro-property-rights, anti-regulation political agenda, is by far the biggest donor — at least $121,048 so far this year — to Walking for Washington. The program is run out of BIAW headquarters in Olympia by the builders’ political director, Elliot Swaney.

Walking for Washington is going door to door, identifying voters and handing out literature supporting Groen and Steve Johnson.

Voters who want to support the current Supreme Court Justices can go to their websites to read more about their campaigns and make donations to help offset the money of the BIAW.

Gerry Alexander

Tom Chambers

Susan Owens