Freedom Foundation Violated State Election Law, Complaint From Northwest Accountability Project Alleges
January 12, 2017
On Jan. 10, the Northwest Accountability Project filed a complaint with the Washington Attorney General alleging that the Freedom Foundation violated state election law by failing to register as a political committee or report expenditures. The complaint is related to Initiative 1, a ballot measure in Olympia, Washington that sought to adopt an income tax on high earners to fund college tuition for city residents.
The complaint, also known as a “45-day letter,” gives the Attorney General 45 days to prosecute the Freedom Foundation. If the Attorney General fails to file charges within 45 days, the Northwest Accountability Project can file suit against the Freedom Foundation.
The Freedom Foundation actively sought to raise money to oppose Initiative 1, and the frequent blog posts, podcasts and press outreach indicate the group spent money on staff time to oppose the measure. They even consulted with Olympia City Staff to oppose the measure.
This isn’t the first time a group led by Tom McCabe has faced accusations of violating campaign finance laws. In 2010, McCabe’s previous group, the Building Industry Association of Washington, “agreed to pay $242,000 with $342,000 more in penalties suspended – to settle a campaign finance complaint brought by the Attorney General’s Office and Public Disclosure Commission.” In 1998, the BIAW and its affiliates, with McCabe at the helm, were fined thousands by the Public Disclosure Commission after it found the BIAW “exceeded contribution limits to candidates, filed inaccurate registration forms and submitted late finance reports after the elections.”