OLYMPIA - August 28, 1998 - The Attorney General's Office today seized money in the bank account of an Everett attorney who failed to pay a seven-year-old court judgment stemming from his violations of the state Public Disclosure Act.
The 1991 judgment against attorney Geoffrey Gibbs was entered following settlement of the state's civil suit against Gibbs for disclosure act violations he committed between 1987 and 1989. At the time, he was serving as executive director and lobbyist in Olympia for the Washington State Food Dealers' Association.
Interest and costs accrued on the original $5,000 judgment have swelled the amount owed by Gibbs to nearly $10,000.
In 1991, the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) investigated Gibbs for repeatedly failing to submit reports of lobbying expenditures that he was required to file as both a lobbyist and executive director for the food dealers' association.
The PDC turned the case over to the Attorney General's Office for civil action after
concluding that the maximum $2,500 penalty that the PDC could levy was not sufficient to
address the seriousness of the violations. The AG's Office subsequently filed suit, and the case was settled when Gibbs agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty. As part of that settlement, he also lost his lobbying privileges for five years.
Until recently, the state had been unsuccessful in locating assets that it could attach to satisfy the penalty and interest still owed by Gibbs. It will not be known for several days whether the bank account recently discovered by the state contains sufficient funds to fully cover the amount.
“The PDC strongly believes in vigorous enforcement of the disclosure law,” PDC Executive Director Melissa Warheit said. “Mr. Gibbs' repeated evasion of the penalty rightfully assessed against him for his misconduct as a lobbyist shows a flagrant disregard for the law that could not be tolerated.”
The Attorney General and PDC also are continuing to take steps to recover smaller sums owed by other Public Disclosure Act violators. In recent months, the AG's Office has taken 20 cases to court. As a result, violators have paid approximately $3,000 in outstanding penalties and interest, while another $2,000 in judgments are expected to be recovered through the seizure of bank accounts and the garnisheeing of wages.
The majority of those cases involved candidates who were penalized for failing to file the PDC's F-1 Form, which describes a candidate's financial assets and liabilities.
“The requirement to report various kinds of financial information is at the heart of the Public Disclosure Act,” Attorney General Christine Gregoire said. “Our actions to recoup unpaid penalties demonstrate our determination to hold candidates and lobbyists accountable when they violate these reporting requirements.”