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The Price of Public Vote Stationed At $50 and $120 As Attorney Sends Out ‘Legal’ Money to Residents and Engages in A Fair Campaign

Amidst the ongoing election campaigns and rallies in the United States of America, political players from top to bottom can be seen starting to prepare for battle. In a recent turn of events, an ethics complaint was filed against the state Attorney General’s Office. Allegedly, the office had sent out checks to thousands of state residents from price-fixing lawsuit settlements, by partnering with chicken and tuna producers. A lot of individuals saw this move as an attempt to secure votes for Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s upcoming gubernatorial campaign.

Based on the latest news reports regarding the case, the Washington State Auditor’s Office has dismissed the ethics complaint. Ferguson, in the year 2023, publicly announced that the $40 million he recovered from a previous lawsuit settlement, would be sent out as checks of $50 and $120, to approximately 402,000 Washington homes.

Buying Votes, Deceiving Democracy

Ferguson expressed to the public that these homes would specifically be homes that survived on low income; however, a lot of US-based sources have claimed otherwise. Journalist Brandi Kruse as well as state Rep. Jim Walsh came forward and claimed that the individuals who received those checks were either high-income or incorrectly identified, with some even being legally dead for decades. The AGO further claimed that Experian, a well-established consumer credit reporting company, was the source of this mailing list (of individuals).

An ethics complaint against the deliverance of these checks was filed in December 2023 by Washington Coalition for Open Government President Emeritus Toby Nixon. Nixon alleged that the delivered checks, who were sanctioned with Ferguson’s name as the payer, was by the rule of law, an illegal dispense of public money. The state law doesn’t give any state officer or employee permission to use or authorize the use of facilities of an agency, either directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for the election of a particular candidate over the others.

The ethics complaint was originally sent to the Washington State Executive Ethics Board but was later forwarded to the auditor’s office. In a letter facilitated on January 3rd, 2024, Jim Brownell, Assistant Director of State Audit and Special Investigations, wrote that the complaint was not recognized as authentic. The letter mentioned that the delivered checks were seen as an activity that was “in-line” with Mr. Ferguson’s official duties as the State Attorney General.

Unaccountability and Free Will Vs Democracy and The Law 

The Board did not recognize it as an activity that was carried out in support of an active candidate’s campaign or is in any way related to a ballot proposition. Thus, the provision of the Ethics Act would not apply to Ferguson.

Nixon came out against the board’s analysis and decision through an email sent to Center Square. In that email, Nixon highlighted how Ferguson, who was an active candidate, had sent out checks to the residents with not only his name on them but each check was also attached to a letter which sang praise of Fergusson’s beliefs and virtues.

Nixon also argued how according to the policies of the board, a candidate has to publicly say the words ‘Vote for me’ in order to be held accountable for malpractice, even though Ferguson was clearly collecting votes through illegal activities but was able to evade accountability by bending the law.

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