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Public officials aligned with Freedom Foundation may be expelled due to incompetence and corruption

Update 2/21/2019: The Washington State Conservation Commission voted unanimously to remove Freedom Foundation-aligned supervisors Eric Johnson and Richard Mankamyer for neglect of duty and malfeasance in office. More information can be found here. 

Update 12/7/2018: The Thurston Conservation District public hearing scheduled for December 7 has been postponed. This post will be updated once a new hearing date is scheduled. More information can be found here

In an unprecedented move, the Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC) is holding a hearing this Friday, December 7th to vote on the removal of two supervisors from the board of the Thurston Conservation District (TCD).

Supervisors Eric Johnson and Richard Mankamyer, aligned with the anti-worker Freedom Foundation/Opt Out Today and one of their key former leaders Glen Morgan, have been cited with multiple cases of neglect of duty and acts of malfeasance by an investigation commissioned by the WSCC.

As the investigation summarizes, “Through their actions they have exhibited malfeasance and neglect of duty by creating a toxic work environment for staff, not following District policies, not being accountable to the public, using their positions for personal gain and disregard for the financial well-being of the District.”

In other words: they bullied staff, ignored the rules and were accountable to big business interests and their front groups, instead of the citizens of Thurston County. All to profit themselves and their cronies.

The proposed ouster of the two TCD supervisors reminds us of another departure due to failure and corruption, that of Tom McCabe, current CEO of the Freedom Foundation. McCabe left the Building Industry Association of Washington in 2010 for offenses including wasting nearly $7 million of the association’s funds on the failed candidacy of Dino Rossi, unsuccessful campaigns for right-wing supreme court justices and racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign finance violations.

The WSCC investigative report on Johnson and Mankamyer goes into further detail, illustrating how they used their positions as supervisor to obtain special privileges, delayed the signing of time sheets and checks, acted inappropriately towards staff, as well as failing to comply with state law. Johnson and Mankamyer are also accused of intentionally missing a crucial board meeting that cost the TCD $600,000 in funding, one-third of their total budget. Johnson defended himself by claiming the lost $600,000 “would have gone to overcompensated bureaucrats sucking from the public teat.”

Ex-Freedom Foundation staffer and election fraudster Glen Morgan has supported Johnson and Mankamyer through the investigation, calling the TCD a “creaky, corrupt entity” that should be “abolished as an independent entity.”

The Thurston Conservation District, founded in 1947, “strives to conserve and sustain the beneficial use and protection of local natural resources through partnerships with the County’s rural, agricultural, and urban communities.” By all accounts, it has been incredibly successful and popular, until the arrival of Johnson and Mankamyer.

A rally in support of removing Johnson and Mankamyer from the board, as well as in support of continued funding for the vital services and staff of the TCD, is planned before the hearing, this Friday, December 7th, 8 am, at the Washington State Department of Ecology building, 300 Desmond Dr. SE Lacey, WA 98503.

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