Primer on the forces behind negative campaign ads attacking Satpal Sidhu’s candidacy / Facebook post, Sj Robson

Screen Shot 2019-11-02 at 11.01.08 AM

Screen shot of the (C1 report) for the Coalition for a Better Northwest Washington filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. The C-1 report, originally filed on August 21, 2019, as shown in this screenshot, displays a submission date of October 22, 2019

November 2, 2019  Sandy Robson

Currently, Tony Larson is running for Whatcom County Executive against Satpal Sidhu. A political action committee (PAC) named the “Coalition For a Better Northwest Washington,” was recently formed to support Larson’s candidacy, and to oppose Satpal Sidhu’s candidacy. According tothe Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) website, the C1 registration form shows the listed committee officers for the PAC are:

•Committee chair, John Huntley, who is President/CEO at Mills Electric, and who serves on the Executive Committee for Whatcom Business Alliance’s Board of Directors

•Committee vice chair, Cary Clemenson, who is Division Manager, Operations at Matrix Services

•Committee secretary, Bill VanZanten, who is CEO at Western Refinery Services, and who serves on the Whatcom Business Alliance’s Board of Directors

•Committee treasurer, Ryan Likkel, who is Chief Operations Officer at Western Refinery Services

•Committee director, Galen Smith, who is Owner/Operations at Coldstream Farms, and who serves on the Whatcom Business Alliance’s Board of Directors.

•Committee director, Tim Johnson, who is the director of public and government affairs at Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery.

•Committee ministerial treasurer, Jason Michaud, who according to LinkedIn, is a campaign manager and treasurer at Elect Northwest.

An October 30, 2019 Northern Light article about the big money coming into the PAC reported:

“The ads [against Satpal Sidhu] were seen on the Fox News Channel last week. Randy Pepple, a Woodinville-based consultant for the Coalition for a Better Northwest Washington, said that the group placed the ads ‘across the cable system’ through Comcast, with an initial expenditure of $15,000.

“Pepple said that the ads could possibly remain on the air until election day. ‘I suspect we’ll be watching the returns to see what kind of impact this is having,’ he said.

“‘Local business leaders came up with the idea,’ Pepple said about the origins of the Coalition for a Better Northwest Washington PAC, which formed in August. ‘They decided that they wanted to engage in the election system and they looked at the candidates and decided that Mr. Larson would be the better candidate. They went around to other folks in the county and raised money to move forward.’

“Larson confirmed that he played no role in the television ads, which he said he hadn’t seen. ‘Campaigns can’t have any connection with PACs,’ said Larson. ‘If it seems like I’m ignorant, it’s because we can’t connect with them in any way, shape or form. And we haven’t.’”

Link to the Northern Light article: https://www.thenorthernlight.com/stories/county-executive-race-awash-in-money,8625

While Tony Larson told the Northern Light newspaper that he was basically ignorant about the Coalition for a Better Northwest Washington, when looking at who is funding that PAC, one thing is clear: Mr. Larson and the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) which he founded, are in very close proximity to many of the entities funding the Coalition for a Better Northwest Washington PAC.

The Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) is a Bellingham-based business advocacy organization and Tony Larson is the organization’s president. The WBA was a big advocate for the then-proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal at Cherry Point shortly after the business advocacy organization was founded in April of 2012. Mr. Larson’s WBA is also a leading advocate for additional fossil fuel development at Cherry Point.

According to the PDC, the Coalition for a Better Northwest Washington PAC has, so far, received over $140,000 in contributions. Some of those contributions include:

•Phillips 66 – $70,000 – The last time I saw the WBA’s membership list (which was in 2016 when it used to be published online) Phillips 66 was a WBA member. I am awaiting confirmation from the Phillips 66 plant manager who I contacted on Nov. 1, via phone, asking if Phillips 66 is currently a WBA member. [UPDATE on 11/6/19 at 5:30 PM – Today, I received a response from Phillips 66 confirming that their company is a member of the WBA.]

•Axiom Construction and Consulting – $5,000 – Axiom Construction and Consulting, was founded by Tim Koetje, who is president. Axiom is a President’s Club* level member of the WBA. The company specializes in architectural metal for commercial projects. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Axiom did $60-$65 million in annual revenues.
•Axiom [Division] 7 – $5,000 – Axiom Division 7 does roofing and is under the Axiom umbrella of companies.

•Mills Electric Co.- $5,113.00 – Mills Electric is a WBA member. John Huntley is President /CEO of Mills Electric and serves on the WBA board’s Executive Committee. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Mills Electric did between $45-$50 million in annual revenues

•Brooks Manufacturing – $5,000
Brooks Manufacturing is owned by John and Mary Ferlin. I have documentation showing that Brooks Manufacturing was a President’s Club level member of the WBA in 2016, but it is not clear what the company’s current member status is with the WBA. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Brooks Manufacturing did $30-$40 million in annual revenues. The company produces crossarms and transmission framing components.
•John Ferlin – $2,500
•Mary Ferlin – $2,500

•Marathon Petroleum – $5,000
According to its website, “Marathon Petroleum Corporation is a leading, integrated, downstream energy company headquartered in Findlay, Ohio. The company operates the nation’s largest refining system with more than 3 million barrels per day of crude oil capacity across 16 refineries.” Marathon acquired Andeavor on Oct. 1, 2018. Andeavor operates the Andeavor Anacortes Refinery.

•Bellingham Cold Storage (BCS) – $1,000
BCS is a President’s Club level member of the WBA, and Doug Thomas is President and CEO of BCS. He is Chair of the WBA Board of Directors and serves on the board’s Executive Committee. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, BCS did $25-$30 million in annual revenues. BCS’s website states that Bellingham Cold Storage (BCS) is a full-service public refrigerated warehousing company, and is now the largest portside cold storage on the West Coast, serving a worldwide customer base.

•Birch Equipment – $2,500
Birch Equipment is a member of the WBA, and Sarah Rothenbuhler is the owner, president and CEO of Birch Equipment. Ms. Rothenbuhler serves on WBA’s Board of Directors. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Birch Equipment did $20-$25 million in annual revenues. Birch Equipment‘s business is equipment and tool rental and sales for industry and home.

•Western Refinery Services (WRS) – $1,000
WRS is a President’s Club level member of the WBA. Bill VanZanten is CEO at WRS, and he serves on the WBA’s board. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, WRS did $30-$40 million in annual revenues. The company does industrial maintenance and construction.

•Guy Jansen – $1,000
Guy Jansen owns LTI, which is a WBA member. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, LTI did $100-$120 million in annual revenues. LTI transports dry and liquid bulk commodities.

•VanderYacht Propane – $1,500 – According to the summer 2016 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, VanderYacht Propane did $8-$10 million in annual revenues.

•Haskell Corp. – $2,000 – According to the summer 2017 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Haskell did $70-75 million in annual revenues. Haskell does large-scale construction

•Hollander Properties LLC – $2,000 – According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Hollander did $55-$60 million in annual revenues. Hollander’s business is hotel and commercial property development and management.

•FWD Development – $2,000 – Troy Muljat is one of two listed governors for Forward Development according to Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State. He also owns The Muljat Group.

•Blythe Mechanical Inc. – $4,000 – According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Blythe Mechanical did $30-$40 million in annual revenues

•Cary Clemenson (Division Manager, Operations at Matrix Service- $500
•Regina Clemenson – $500

•Paul Akers – $500 – Owner of Fastcap
•Leanne Akers – $500

•James McKinney – $500
Mr. McKinney is the former executive director for Common Threads Northwest and currently volunteers for that group often by moderating or emceeing events it hosts and/or sponsors, such as the March 19, 2019 Cherry Point Impact Study event organized and hosted by the WBA, at which he was a moderator.
********************************************************

Below is a list of some of the contributions made directly to Tony Larson’s campaign which has, so far, received over $165,000:

•Phillips 66 – $2,000
•Mills Electric – $2,000
•BP North America Employee PAC – $2,000

•John Ferlin – $2,000
•Mimi Ferlin – $2,000
•Roosevelt Land Company – $2,000 (owned by Ferlin)
•J&M’s LLC – $2,000 (owned by Ferlin)
•Brooks Manufacturing – $2,000 (owned by Ferlin)

•Paul Akers – $500 – Owner of Fastcap
•LeAnne Akers – $500

•Guy Jansen – $2,000 – Owner of LTI
•Kathy Jansen – $2,000

•Jansen Inc – $2,000 – Heavy civil construction. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Jansen Inc did $20-$25 million in annual revenues.

•Barleans Organic Oils – $2,000
•Bruce Barlean – $2,000
•Lisa Barlean – $2,000

•Western Refinery Services – $2,000

•Bellingham Cold Storage – $2,000

•Birch Equipment – $2,000
Sarah Rothenbuhler is the owner, president and CEO of Birch Equipment.

•Hollander Hospitality – $2,000
•Mark Hollander – $2,000
Mark Hollander is president of Hollander Hospitality.

•The Muljat Group – $2,000 – Owned by Troy Muljat
•FWD Development – $2,000 – Troy Muljat is one of two listed governors for Forward Development according to Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State

•Saturna Capital – $2,000
•Jane Carten – $2,000
•Nick Kaiser – $2,000
Jane Carten is President, Director of Saturna Capital, and she is the daughter of Nick Kaiser, the founder and Chairman of Saturna Capital. Ms. Carten serves as a member on the WBA’s Executive Committee, and Saturna Capital is a President’s Club level member of the WBA. According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Saturna Capital did $30-$40 million in annual revenues. Saturna Capital is a privately owned investment manager.

•Peter Dawson – $1,000 – Mr. Dawson owns Dawson Construction which is a President’s Club level member of the WBA

Jansen Inc. – $2,000
Owned by Grant Jansen. Company is a civil contractor (heavy civil construction). According to the July/August 2019 issue of WBA’s Business Pulse magazine, Jansen Inc. did $20-$25 million in annual revenues

•Fastcap – $2,000
Fastcap is owned by Paul Akers. Fastcap was estimated to have annual sales of $10 million to 12 million, according to a July 2017 Seattle Times article. The article reported that in 2010, Akers, a Republican, ran for the U.S. Senate, “pumping more than $400,000” of his own money into the primary race. The Seattle Times article reported: “Akers’ views follow a conservative agenda: He opposes the recently passed federal health-care law and supports Arizona’s tough immigration law. He backs gun-owners’ rights, favors term limits, and opposes affirmative action and same-sex marriage.”
Link to the July 2017 Seattle Times article: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/bellingham-entrepreneur-paul-akers-sets-his-sights-on-us-senate/

* Presidents Club level WBA membership costs $5000 annually
Platinum WBA membership costs $2500 annually
Gold WBA membership costs $1000 annually
Silver WBA membership costs annually$500)
Bronze WBA membership costs $250 annually
Individual WBA membership costs $100 annually

You can read Sandy’s post on her Facebook page here.

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