Tag Archives: Liability Reform Coalition

Majority Rules Blog Files Public Dislosure Commission Complaint Against Groen Supporters

Press Release:

For Immediate Release:
Sept. 13, 2006
Majority Rules Blog
Contact Steve Zemke
stevezemke at msn.com

Majority Rules Blog Files PDC Complaint Against “Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse”

A complaint today has been filed today with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission against an out of state PAC supporting the election of John Groen in his race to oust Chief Justice Gerry Alexander from the Washington State Supreme Court.

Steve Zemke of Majority Rules Blog filed the complaint. In his two most recent posts on the Alexander/Groen race for Washington State Supreme Court, Zemke noted that spending by Groen and Groen supporters has exceeded $1.35 million, making it the most expensive Supreme Court race in Washington’s history. And over $400,000 has now been raised and $350,000 spent by a mysterious out of state PAC calling itself Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse.

See: Groen Supporters Violate Public Disclosure in their Intent to Deceive and Hide who they are.

Record $1.3 million Spent so far to Elect Groen to Washington State Supreme Court http://www.majorityrules.org/blog/2006/09/record-13-million-spent-so-far-to.html

Zemke’s complaint is based on violation of RCW 42.17.020 (43) which 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.”

The sponsor not the agent needs to be identified under Washington law. Americans Against Frivolous Lawsuits is obviously just a phony name to hide the true identity of the funds.

Because this election will be decided in the Sept 19, 2006 primary Zemke asks that the PDC tell Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse to immediately identify to the public the source of their funding.

The US Chamber of Commerce two years ago tried to avoid identifying themselves as the sponsors of a $1.5 million spending campaign against Deborah Senn when she ran for Attorney General against Rob McKenna. The PDC ruled that they had to tell the public.

Americans Against Frivolous Lawsuits are running TV attack ads against Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and supporting John Groen.

One possible source of the funds is the American Tort Reform Coalition based in Washington DC. Zemke raises the questions of where the money against Alexander is coming from because a local Coalition calling itself the Liability Reform Coalition actually is affiliated with the American Tort Reform Coalition. And the Building Industry Association of Washington, which is itself spending hundreds of thousands of dollars is a member.

You can read more at the two blog links above.

Record $1.3 Million Spent so far to Elect Groen to Washington State Supreme Court.

Breaking all records, reported campaign contributions and spending to elect John Groen to the Washington State Supreme Court now exceeds $1,294,608. Over half a million dollars ($557,980) alone has been spent by by the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) and PAC’s it controls.

The BIAW and other special interest groups are trying to defeat current Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander. Groen is running on a program of defending developer interests over those of individual property owners and comunities. The BIAW is trying to elect their third Supreme Court Justice that represents their special interests. Previously they were the main spenders to elect James Johnson and Richard Saunders to the Court.

The latest large contribution to join the Groen effort is a reported out of state $320,000 from a so called independent PAC based in Alerxander , VA called Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse. They are spending it on TV ads. Joel Connelly in an article in the Seattle PI today said the address given for the PAC is that of the American Tort Reform Association. See also the Seattle Times and Justice at Stake

A phone call to their local phone number listed at an address in Redmond said that the local contact number was for the Liability Reform Coalition. They are listed with the PDC as having spent $244,277 in 2005 doing grassroots lobbying. They referred me back to ATLA when I asked who they represented, saying they were only a local contact.

The following figures are taken from the latest Public Disclosure Commission records in Olympia WA and analysis reported by a new website called VotingforJudges.org . They have done a much better job of compiling independent expenditures and contributions for the judicial races than has the PDC website, which has been slow on getting information and reports updated.

In fact I think that the PDC should be embarrassed in their half hearted effort to provide the public with updated and current information on contributions and expenditures done by so called independent PAC’s. They have done some excellent groupings of data to help the public understand who is getting and spending money by candidate committees but their reporting on independent contributions and expenditures is woefully incomplete and not timely at all. Many independent committees are not even listed in their summary reports of contributions and expenditures..

The primary election on Sept 19th will decide the Alexander/Groen race as well as the race between Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers and his challenger Jeanette Burrage. People across the state have already received their absentee ballots and are voting. A up to date and timely analysis of contributions and independent expenditures is most helpful to voters before the election, not after it is over.

The fact that the Washington State Legislature did not extend their contribution limits legislation to include PAC’s is a giant loophole that needs to be corrected. It allows special interests to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence a race. Current spending for Groen sets a new record for spending in Washington State Supreme Court races. So called independent PAC’s are far outspending Groen’s official campaign committee.

Below is a listing of money raised and spent to try to put Groen on the Supreme Court. I am using expenditure figures for Groen based on www.votingforjudges.org since the posted PDC data is not current. I have updated the Groen campaign committee information based on more current C-3 reports on the PDC website.

Groen campaign committee contributions to date 9/10 /2006 ……….$409,608

Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse 9/8/06 supporting Groen …………..$80,000
opposing Gerry Alexander………………………………………………. $240,000

Building Industry Association of Washington……………………………..$99,603

Central Washington Home Builders Association……………………………. $5931

Committee for Judicial Restraint………………………………………….. $1140

Walking for Washington (1/2 of doorbelling/canvassing effort) ……….$167,000
(canvass/doorbelling effort for John Groen & Steve Johnson)

It’s Time for a Change ………………………………………………………………………$291,377

Total reported so far……………………………………………. $1,294,659