A Northwest union and its political arm will pay more than $43,000 to settle a lawsuit over omissions in campaign-finance paperwork.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Anne Hirsch signed off Friday on the agreement between state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office and Service Employees International Union 775 Northwest.
Investigating a complaint from the Freedom Foundation, a conservative critic of unions, Ferguson’s office concluded SEIU 775 NW and its political committee “failed to properly file reports of both in-kind and cash contributions,” the attorney general’s office said in a news release.
The office sued in September, accusing the union of failing to report more than $1.3 million it contributed to its own political committee. The committee did report receiving those donations. But neither side reported the value of services the union provided the committee, including staff time and office space, according to the lawsuit.
The union faces a fine of $45,806 with $6,562 suspended as long as it complies with the law. The committee was fined $6,000 with $1,500 suspended for compliance.
Ferguson is a Democrat. SEIU is a major supporter of Democratic candidates.
On Friday the office filed another lawsuit – this one against the Washington State Labor Council, the largest labor group in the state. The labor council is affiliated with hundreds of local unions.
Like the ones against the SEIU units, the lawsuit stems from a Freedom Foundation complaint and alleges failure to report the council’s contributions of money and services to political committees. The receiving committees did report contributions, the attorney general’s office said in a news release.
The labor council said the information wasn’t hidden to people checking who funded the political committees and that council reports have now been fixed.
“It was an honest omission,” labor council spokesman David Groves said.