What do special prosecutors, birthdays and electioneering reporting all have in common?
They are all harmless subjects of legislation that actually target the Freedom Foundation.
The Freedom Foundation has been honored to stand alongside Lincoln County residents, whose elected commissioners courageously stepped out to make union negotiations transparent. Unions regularly rely on their clout and statewide resources to bully local governments and school districts into submission. But when the Freedom Foundation attorneys offered free legal help to the Lincoln County commissioners, the unions were overmatched — and angry.
As soon as the unions had politicians in all the key positions in the lawmaking process in 2018, House Bill 2587 was introduced to enable unions to identify and punish those who financially support our ability to provide legal assistance to defend Lincoln County.
The legislation reads:
If compensation to a special deputy prosecuting attorney is provided by a nonprofit or advocacy organization, all sources of the funding shall be provided whether donation, grant, or other source.
Patriots from all across the state send donations to the Freedom Foundation to advocate for the ideas of free markets and limited, accountable government (donate here if you want to join the team). The union seeks to use its litany of bully tactics against our donors.
Of course, we safeguard our donors’ confidentiality for exactly this reason.
Lest any think that we’re being paranoid and that the legislation has other motivation consider this fact: Freedom Foundation agreed to defend Lincoln County in October 2016 as special council at no cost to the county.
The legislation says:
“…This act applies retroactively to July 1, 2016.”
Every individual has a birthday and, like names, these are not a confidential matter. A birthday cannot be used to start a bank account or to conduct fraud. All who register to vote have their date of birth on a state website for immediate download.
When the Freedom Foundation set out to let public employees know about their constitutional rights regarding paying strident Leftist private organizations hundreds of dollars each year, the union could not allow that to continue. SEIU spent nearly $2 million on an initiative to prevent the Freedom Foundation from getting the names of unionized caregivers and child care workers.
Now that their donation-funded politicians run the entire legislature, it’s cheaper to simply disable our ability to know key basic information about public employees. Senate Bill 6079 treats public employees with more secrecy than voters.
The legislation limits the release of the date of birth of public employees.
Newspapers have consistently editorialized against blocking the ability to know whether the John Smith who got the DUI last night was the same John Smith who drives the school bus today. Journalists know that birthdays are a part of the name and make it possible for researchers to accurately identify those on the public payroll.
Date of birth also allows the Freedom Foundation to inform public employees about their Constitutional rights, which will be very important if the Supreme Court releases public employees from compulsory union payment.
Exposing hidden extraordinary electioneering influence is a foundational belief of the Freedom Foundation. Our seven-year lawsuit against the Washington Education Association charged that the millions spent were concealed from members and from the public. Likewise, the Freedom Foundation lawsuit against Service Employees International Union raises the same issue regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars of electioneering.
Senate Bill 5991 could be a well-intentioned effort to promote important exposure of election influence, but it could also result in selectively-applied punishment to some voices.
Like the voice of those who support the Freedom Foundation.
The bill says:
“‘Incidental committee’ means any nonprofit organization not otherwise defined as a political committee but that may incidentally make a contribution or … expenditures aggregating at least ten thousand dollars in a calendar year … each incidental committee must file with the commission a report of any expenditures under RCW 42.17A.240(6), as well as the source of the ten largest aggregate payments . . . it received”
If the term “expenditure” was defined in a predictably enforced way, the bill would offer meaningful guidance and could be heeded without fear. However, our campaign finance laws are enforced on a complaint basis and terms like “expenditures” are interpreted by partisan elected officials like Attorney General Bob Ferguson or appointed part-time Public Disclosure Commission board members.
The Freedom Foundation has already had complaints levied by union antagonists that mischaracterize activities like everyday people navigate the legal process or talking to journalists as “political expenditures.” Giving enemies the power to capriciously and retroactively conclude that our speech is actually an expenditure which requires our donors to be exposed to union bullies is chilling.