Service Employees International Union Leadership Council 14 to pay up to $250,000 plus fees to settle lawsuit from Attorney General's office

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday that the Service Employees International Union Leadership Council 14, also known as SEIU Washington State Council, will pay up to $250,000 to resolve the Office of the Attorney General’s campaign finance lawsuit.

The judgment, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, requires SEIU Council 14 to pay $233,205 in civil penalties with $104,942.25 suspended for four years contingent on no violations in that period, as well as $18,300.85 in costs and fees.

After receiving a Citizen Action Notice in April of 2017, the AGO determined Council 14 made significant campaign contributions but failed to register and report as a political committee in at least 2014 and 2016.

The AGO filed a complaint against the council in July of 2017.

Washington law requires registration of a political committee when a person has the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures to support or oppose candidates or ballot propositions. The law requires these committees to regularly report information to the Public Disclosure Commission about sources of contributions, starting with those over $25. Political committees must also regularly report information about their activities, including expenditures, debts and in-kind contributions.

While Council 14 has its own registered political committee, the council itself also acted as a political committee by devoting a majority of its annual expenditures to electoral political activity during 2014 and 2016.

The Council contributed directly to ballot proposition committees, in addition to contributing to its own political committee, SEIU Washington State Council PAC, which in turn contributed to committees that supported or opposed candidates. SEIU Washington State Council PAC reported the contributions from the council.

By failing to register and report as a political committee, Council 14 did not disclose its contributions or expenditures as required by law, nor did it report the sources of these contributions.

The Attorney General’s Office did not uncover evidence suggesting these violations were intentional.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson recused himself from the matter.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Dalton and Assistant Attorney General Todd Sipe are handling the case.

The recoveries in this case will go into the state Public Disclosure Transparency Account as required by law. The Attorney General’s Office has recovered more than $650,000 for the Transparency Account since it was created by the Legislature last year.


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