OLYMPIA — Service Employees International Healthcare 775NW (SEIU 775) will pay more than $39,000 after an Attorney General’s Office lawsuit over its improper reporting of in-kind and cash contributions.
The union agreed to file its reports in accordance with state campaign finance law; $6,562 of its $45,806 judgment will be suspended as long as it does so and complies with campaign finance laws going forward. This includes costs, fees and civil penalties.
The union’s political action committee, SEIU 775 Quality Care Committee (SEIU 775 PAC), will also pay $6,000, with $1,500 of that suspended as long as it updates its reports and complies with reporting requirements.
In late July 2015, the Attorney General’s Office received a Citizen Action Complaint from the Freedom Foundation against SEIU 775 alleging multiple violations of the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
The matter was referred to the state Public Disclosure Commission, which opened a formal investigation. The Commission reported that SEIU 775 had not violated state law on the majority of the allegations. However, it may have violated the requirement to report in-kind contributions of staff time to operate and manage its political action committee.
Following a review of the PDC’s information, the AGO determined that enough evidence existed that SEIU 775 and SEIU 775 PAC failed to properly file reports of both in-kind and cash contributions.
The office filed a complaint in September alleging that SEIU 775 failed to file reports of cash contributions totaling $1.39 million (all reported properly by SEIU 775 PAC) as well as in-kind contributions — including staff time, office space, postal and Web services, and telephones — made to the SEIU 775 PAC from 2010 to 2015. While SEIU 775 PAC reported receiving the cash contributions, the PAC failed properly to report any in-kind contributions it received from SEIU 775.
This judgment brings the case to a close. The Attorney General’s Office is charged with enforcing the state’s campaign finance disclosure law to ensure free, open, and fair elections in Washington state.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov