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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 1, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 27
ERW files ethics complaint against I-1515 backers
Section One
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ERW files ethics complaint against I-1515 backers

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Equal Rights Washington (ERW) has filed an ethics complaint against Just Want Privacy, the group pushing I-1515 to bar Trans people from using gender-appropriate restroom facilities.

According to the complaint filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on June 28, the I-1515 campaign committed four kinds of violations of state disclosure laws:

o It reported some contributions up to a month late.

o It failed to report payments to staff, even though they are still involved with the campaign.

o It failed to report in-kind contributions from the Family Research Council, even though it bragged on its website that the group was helping the campaign.

o It failed to keep track of and report all in-kind contributions.

'The PDC should investigate late reporting of contributions and unreported in-kind contributions to the Just Want Privacy campaign and levy applicable fines if they are found to be in violation of Washington's campaign finance reporting laws,' ERW's complaint concludes.

'These violations are a deliberate effort to conceal campaign operations,' ERW Executive Director Monisha Harrell told SGN.

'The organizations that fund and support anti-LGBTQ work don't want the general public to know how much time and energy they put into repealing other's rights. Their big donors want to hide behind friendly-sounding names like the 'Family Policy Institute' and 'Family Research Council,' while actually working to destroy LGBTQ families and people.

'Joseph Backholm makes his living attacking the LGBTQ community,' Harrell continued. 'I believe he really loves money and the sound of his own voice. I-1515 has given him the platform to line his pockets and put trans and gender-nonconforming children at risk.

'Backholm used the anti-trans legislation in Olympia this year as a recruiting tool for the Family Policy Institute. In a post hearing debrief meeting with supporters, he asked the nearly 200 people in attendance to remember to sign up for Family Policy Institute's mailing list, and Family Policy Institute's Facebook page has gained nearly 4,000 new followers since I-1515 was introduced.

'There is no doubt that I-1515 has been a boon for Backholm and his operations, and there is no way he wants to cut off this gravy train.'

According to the document ERW filed with the PDC and subsequently emailed to supporters, including SGN, some $19,100 in contributions to the I-1515 campaign was received between May 3 and May 30, but not reported until June 27.

'This is a clear violation of campaign finance reporting laws and prevents Washingtonians from having accurate and timely information about who is funding the Just Want Privacy campaign,' ERW charged.

In addition, the ERW complaint says, the I-1515 campaign reported paying its staff in April, but did not report any staff payments for May, even though it paid ADP $117.99 for 'payroll fees.' The staff - Joseph Backholm, Mitch Hall, and Kaeley Triller Haver - continued to work on the campaign in May, despite the lack of recorded paychecks.

The campaign also failed to account for 'Backholm's staff time as the chairman of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and the chairman of the Just Want Privacy campaign, or Triller Haver's time as the communications director of Just Want Privacy,' ERW said in its complaint.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington is the local franchise of James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

The I-1515 campaign has also failed to report in-kind contributions adequately, ERW says. In-kind donations include goods or services that help the campaign, apart from monetary contributions. So far, the I-1515 campaign has reported a paltry $616.00 in in-kind donations, and none at all from the Family Research Council, although it's said explicitly on its Facebook page that 'even the Family Research Council from Washington DC has lent a hand' in the signature-gathering effort.

The I-1515 campaign has until July 8 to submit 246,000 valid signatures in order to get the measure on the November ballot. The campaign has brought in Chris Plante from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council to beef up its signature-gathering effort, which was reportedly lagging way behind its goals.

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