Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee compelled to amend name to comply with state law / Facebook post, Sj Robson

Screenshot detail of the 10/2/19 amended Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council C-1 report filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, which reflects the corrected and current full name of the political committee that includes the committee’s sponsor, the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County

October 8, 2019 Sandy Robson

Finally, the Whatcom County Affordable Housing political committee has been compelled to amend its committee’s name in order to comply with state law.

Per Washington state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee must now include its sponsor, the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County, in its political committee’s name on its registration form (C1pc). 

Screenshot of the 10/2/19 revised Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council C-1 report filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, which reflects the corrected and current full name of the political committee that includes the committee’s sponsor, the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County

On Sept. 18, 2019, I had submitted a formal complaint to the PDC against the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee. That complaint is case #57738. I’ve attached two screenshot photos which show my complaint.

In my complaint, I argued that because the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee appears to have received eighty percent or more of its contributions from a person or from the person’s members, officers, employees, or shareholders under RCW 42.17A.005(46), it caused me to believe that the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee should include on its C-1pc form the name of the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County in the committee’s name, according to the intent of WAC 390-16-011A.

I requested that the PDC address this matter I brought to its agency’s attention as soon as possible because the November 5, 2019 general election season is already underway, yet the public and voters have not had this specific and important information about the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee made transparent and available to them.

The PDC acted promptly on my complaint, and contacted the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee’s representative. According to an October 2, 2019 email from the committee’s executive officer, Robert Lee, sent to the PDC, the registration form (C1pc) has been corrected in order to be in compliance.

Today, October 8, I checked the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee’s C1pc form accessible on the PDC website. It is now correct, in that, the form shows in the committee’s listed name that it is sponsored by the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County (BIAWC).

The BIAWC, a trade and business advocacy organization primarily comprised of businesses related to the building and construction industry, often opposes various regulations and policies which are needed to better protect our environment. 

Here’s a summarized history of how this whole thing transpired—
I had originally sent a May 17, 2019 email communication (not a formal complaint) to the PDC, explaining that while the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee appeared to be affiliated with the BIAWC, the registration (C1pc) form did not reflect that, as is required on the form, and I outlined substantiation for why I felt that to be the case.

I believed it was important that the public and Washington voters be made aware of the fact that the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee appeared to be affiliated with the BIAWC, so that was why I sent my email to the PDC. 

There was no response, and after following up, I received an August 16, 2019 email reply from a PDC Filer Assistance Specialist, who stated, in part:
“I contacted an official from the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council and he informed me that the council is not affiliated in this way with the Building Industry Associaton of Whatcom County, even though they share an address. They are not established, financed, maintained, or controlled by that entity.”

On August 19, 2019, I sent a reply email to the PDC with documented information to demonstrate that, per the PDC’s stated definition of an affiliated committee, the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council’s political committee was, in fact, “established” by the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County — and that it appeared their political committee is “maintained or controlled” by the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County.

Then, on September 16, I received an email from the PDC, letting me know that the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council had, “amended their political committee registration to show that they are affiliated with the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County.”

That small victory felt good, so I posted about it on Sept. 17 on several Facebook group pages, one of which, was the Riveters Collective Facebook group page. An individual who commented under my post on the Riveters group asked, “Can we get them to change their name?” 

That excellent question caused me to do some more research, and that’s when I realized that a good case could be made that the Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council political committee was not simply affiliated with the BIAWC, but that its committee was actually sponsored by the BIAWC, according to my interpretation of state campaign finance statutes. So, on September 18, I submitted a formal complaint about that to the PDC, which I posted about on several group Facebook pages on Sept. 29.

Below is a link to my full PDC complaint posted on the agency’s website for anyone interested:
https://www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/cases/57738

Here is a link to my Sept. 29 Facebook post: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2705502619483637&id=100000717758807&ref=bookmarks

Here is a link to my Sept. 17 Facebook post: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2681509921882907&id=100000717758807

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