Three statewide initiative campaigns appear to have collected
enough signatures to qualify for the fall ballot this year but supporters spent a pot of money to make it happen.
Public Disclosure Commission filings show that most of that money came from just a few donors, and all of the campaigns used paid signature gatherers.
Paid signature gatherers for Initiative 1163 appear to have collected hundreds of fraudulent signatures. The matter has been turned over to the Washington State Patrol, which has agreed to investigate. The suspect signatures were not included in the estimated 340,000 signatures submitted to the state to qualify for the ballot and the signature-gathering company self-reported the problem. The name of the signature-gatherer and the questionable petitions themselves will not be released during the investigation. This is standard practice during a law-enforcement investigation, which could lead to prosecution.
I-1163 would require training and background checks for home
care workers. The Service Employees International Union donated all
of the $1.4 million raised by that campaign.
Tim Eyman's Initiative 1125 would limit highway tolls to
stretches of road that are improved directly tolls collected.
Bellevue developer and light-rail opponent Kemper Freeman gave $1.1
million of the nearly $1.3 million the campaign raised.
Costco was the driving force behind I-1183, a
liquor-privatization plan. The wholesaler donated all of the cash
and most of the in-kind contributions for that effort, which has
collected and spent nearly $1.9 million.
Secretary of State Reed noted that the I-1163 campaign and their signature-gathering company self-reported the fraudulent signatures to the Elections Division and are acting in good faith. The questionable signatures were never submitted by the campaign as part of their July submission, he underscored.
Initiative fraud is a felony, with a standard range of zero to 12 months in jail, and a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.