Washington Union Sued over Campaign Finance Violations

Washington’s Atty. Gen. filed suit Oct. 9 against the Wash. Educ. Ass’n for using agency fees of nonmembers for political purposes, in violation of the state campaign financing law. The Wash. Public Disclosure Comm’n referred the WEA case Sept. 25 to the AG’s office after finding “multiple” violations of the Wash. Public Disclosure Act. WPDC concluded that agency fees of more than 4,000 teachers and school employees were used for political contributions without the payers’ permission.

The AG’s office said it will seek civil penalties, injunctive relief, investigation costs, and attorneys’ fees against the union. Under WPDA, the AG can ask for a maximum penalty of $10,000 for each violation. The complaint stated that the AG will seek treble damages “if the violations are proved to be intentional.”

The union has admitted to violating the law but claimed the violations are just an accounting problem. Agency fees and union members’ dues are deposited in WEA’s general treasury. [BNA 10/12/00]