I previously wrote about the SEIU, and why I voted to elect Susan Hutchison for King County executive. I briefly covered some disturbing facts about the SEIU, a thug Union, one that also strongly backs Dow Constantine. In this entry I'm pointing out more reasons why it is necessary to curb the SEIU's ever growing power — which apparantly isn't just a state issue, it's a national problem. I'll get to that in just a bit. Here's a brief outline of the situation and problems that have been brought to surface in Seattle.
Before the smear campaign ads against Susan Hutchison occurred, a Seattle consulting firm, called Moxie Media Inc., was hired by a group calling itself "Citizens to Uphold the Constitution," to produce attack ads against Ross Hunter — Dow Constantine's opponent in the primary. This "independent" group, financed by several state and local unions (SEIU), paid $14,565 to Moxie Media to send out direct mailings attacking Hunter.
Moxie Media is well known for its campaign mailings supporting liberal groups such as the Service Employees International Union. Coincidentally, Moxie Media also shares the same mailing address and suite number as another consulting firm that was working for Dow Constantine's campaign, called Northwest Passage. There's strong evidence showing that a paid staff person for Constantine's campaign was working with Moxie Media, delivering campaign money for advertising.
Wait—how can that be?
Jason Bennett, a paid staffer as the treasurer for Dow Constantine's political campaign, owns his own political consulting firm and is listed as the sponsor for the group that purchased targeted phone campaign and mailing attack ads against Susan Hutchison, the opponent of Dow Constantine. Seattle Times reporter Keith Ervin wrote on August 5, commenting that, "Labor unions back county exec candidate Dow Constantine." He also pointed out the fact that the SEIU, as part of the "independent" campaign, working under a group that bills itself as a "non-partisan" political action committee, calling itself "Citizens to Uphold the Constitution," has something in common with Constantine's own campaign: They share the same treasurer, Jason Bennett.
According to campaign finance reforms that were enacted in 2002, it is illegal for a candidate to collaborate with a group—in this case several groups—who spend money to support that candidate or to attack the candidate's opponents. It appears that Dow Constantine's treasurer is working as a paid campaign staff person and as an operative for political action committees. Ads funded by two SEIU locals, unions of which also gave a combined $49,606 for pro-Constantine advertising, shared the same treasurer as Constantine's political campaign.
In the Federal Way Mirror Political commentary, Angie Vogt wrote:
According to their expenditures report filed to the [Public Disclosure Commission], Citizens to Uphold the Constitution paid $11,300.25 to Washington, D.C.-based vendor "The Clinton Group" to perform robocalls attacking candidate Susan Hutchison. The sponsor of the group who purchased the vendor services is named as Jason Bennett, who, according to the Seattle Times article, is also Dow Constantine's treasurer.
Angie Vogt has since filed a complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission against the campaign of Dow Constantine.
This is all very interesting because of a recent call for investigation of SEIU President Andy Stern. Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF) formally requested the investigation, to determine whether SEIU's related activities could constitute unregistered "lobbying" by Mr. Stern in violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), 2 U.S.C. 1601, et seq.
The situation in Seattle appears to be a violation of RCW 42.17.020 and WAC 390-05-210; from the RCW, in section 28, it defines independent expenditure, which "forbids collaboration between a candidate—the candidate's campaign staff or any agent of that campaign—and a group or person purchasing advertising for that candidate or against the candidate's opponent." It is illegal for a candidate's campaign to coordinate with independent groups who finance attack ads against opponents or who fund campaign activities in support of said candidate.
Jason Bennett is a veteran political consultant and Olympia insider who has helped win Democratic majorities in the state Legislature and worked for Sen. Maria Cantwell's staff before opening his own political consulting firm in Seattle, Argo Strategies. He owns a firm that advertises its ability to get progressive Democrats elected; and now, he is in immediate need to answer some very important legal concerns based on his actions working with SEIU and at the same time as a paid staffer for Dow Constantine's campaign.