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The Failures of Charlie Conner

Our organization has written previously about Charlie Conner, the sole owner and president of Conner Homes (based in Bellevue, Washington) and long-term board member of the right-wing Freedom Foundation. While we already questioned Conner’s business savviness based on the company he keeps (not a great business move to be connected to extremist groups like the Freedom Foundation in Washington), additional digging on his business only further proved this point.

From several lawsuits filed by unhappy customers furious about poor quality homes, to foreclosures by banks where he has borrowed money, to blowing thousands on failed political candidates, Charlie Conner’s record as a business owner shows a history of poor judgement and bad decisions.

Here are the facts:

No stranger to foreclosures, Conner saw banks seize huge tracts of land from his company for lack of payment on loans he took out. Bank of America foreclosed on an incomplete Conner property in Bothell, leaving the other half to the families that had already moved in.

Venture Bank foreclosed on another property when Conner fell behind $300,000 on the $6.3 million loan. A few months later, Venture Bank was seized by state regulators for lack of capital caused by large loan and investment losses. In response to the foreclosure, Conner said breezily, “I decided that property wasn’t worth what I put into it … I said, ‘I can’t make the payments anymore — I’ll just take my haircut.’”

It’s not just funders and lenders that Conner has let down. A public records search shows a string of lawsuits from his own customers, alleging substantial defects and deficiencies in construction. Homeowners at a Conner Homes development in Kirkland, WA alleged that Conner had failed to address problems and that as a result of the damage “some or all of the units may be uninhabitable.”

Conner was also sued by the Meydenbauer Bay Condominium Owners Association who alleged that the company had breached warranties with “various construction defects, including but not limited to water intrusion problems.”

Additionally, Conner has tried his hand at helping politicians get elected. As with his foreclosed properties and incensed customers, it hasn’t gone well. He gave campaign money to fellow Freedom Foundation board member Michael Appleby, who was running for state representative. Appleby lost, with a meager 34% of the vote. Conner also gave money to Dino Rossi, a five-time election loser, infamous for proposing the cutting of Medicaid benefits to 40,000 children in Washington.

With his history of defaulting on loans, angering customers and donating to failed politicians, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Charlie Conner’s Freedom Foundation is failing, too. With the new statistics showing Washington has the lowest union withdrawal rate in the nation, the union-busting Freedom Foundation has a lot of explaining to do. If their donors take a closer look at Charlie Conner’s performance record elsewhere, it may help clarify the problem.

Fueled by millions of dollars from out-of-state corporate interests, the Freedom Foundation and their director Charlie Conner have, quite simply, botched the job. The new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that union membership grew 10% last year in Washington state. On top of that, only 3.3% of workers covered by a union contract in Washington have declined to become full dues-paying members in this state, the lowest in the country.  

Seems Charlie and the Freedom Foundation may have some explaining to do to their funders.

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