State Officials Fined for Tardy Response in Union Case

Published April 1, 1999

The Washington Education Association is not the only organization in the state of Washington to be fined for responding tardily to court-imposed deadlines for handing over documents to the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF). Three months before the WEA was fined $15,000 failing to turn over in a timely manner its battle plan for the 1996 elections, the Washington state attorney general’s office also was fined–more than twice as much–for failing to turn over to the foundation requested settlement papers.

EFF had sought information regarding a $330,000 settlement, reached last March between the WEA and the attorney general’s office, in which the union also had to pay $80,000 in penalties and $20,000 in lawyers’ fees. The settlement concerned how the WEA had established a fund to serve as a political action committee but–in violation of state law–had not disclosed the fund’s PAC status to the union members whose mandatory payroll deductions flowed into it.

EFF argued that the WEA, and not the attorney general’s office, had essentially written the settlement agreement. A Thurston county superior court judge ordered the state to provide EFF with many of the documents it was seeking to determine how the settlement was reached. When EFF complained that the attorney general’s office had not released some of the requested papers until after the court-imposed deadline, the attorney general’s office was fined $33,000.