November 3, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2017
Legal Action Moves Forward Against Top Whatcom County Officials
Bellingham, WA- Community leader, Rosalinda Guillen, filed a lawsuit for over $230,000,000 on October 10, 2017 in Whatcom County Superior Court against Defendants, Sherriff Bill Elfo, County Prosecutor David McEachran, and County Executive Jack Louws, based on their unlawful actions in the 2015 election year. The lawsuit alleges that Louws, Elfo, and McEachran violated Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.17A by using county resources for their reelections and publishing a biased and deceptive mailer to registered voters.
Furthermore, the lawsuit outlines how they reduced good time (also known as early release), imposed unrealistic bail obligations for poor people, booked extra inmates in order to support the campaign message of an “overcrowded” jail, and deliberately failed to maintain the downtown jail supporting the message that the jail was unsafe. The lawsuit also alleges they used over $45,000 of taxpayer funds for the campaign, formed a political action committee, and produced a mailer with public resources. The mailer promoted the ballot measure by including false and misleading statements and omitting information the public needed to make an informed decision about the ballot measure. “Instead of diligently finding effective solutions to costly incarceration, they misused their power and position, used public funds, and instigated a shameful campaign to build a new jail which would exacerbate the present injustices in our community”, said Guillen.
Working in the community for over 14 years, Rosalinda Guillen has heard countless stories of racial profiling by law enforcement. She has worked with people impacted by racial profiling as they tried to seek justice. If justice is served for the people of Whatcom County, the court will make Defendants repay the funds and resources they took starting in 2015.
County Executive Jack Louws was found in violation of state and public disclosure laws and fined by the Public Disclosure Commission. Though the 2015 ballot measure was rejected by voters, this flawed jail campaign is being forced upon voters again in 2017. Most recently, a Whatcom County individual has filed a Citizen Action for another violative and misleading mailer promoting the jail ballot measure for the current election cycle.
These elected leaders have caused many concerned community members to expend time, work and effort fighting against this relentless campaign to construct a new jail, the biggest capital expenditure in Whatcom County history. If Defendants succeed in their continued misleading campaign in 2017, they should also be made to pay damages for the many people and their families who are unjustly targeted through racial profiling, incarcerated and impacted in order to fulfill the increased capacity of the new jail.