Think tank sues auditor over voter pamphlet

Freedom Foundation says it offered to help find ‘con’ authors; auditor says offer came too late

Staff writerFebruary 1, 2014 

The Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit Friday against newly elected Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, saying she didn’t make “a good faith effort to find someone to draft arguments against the ballot measures” for the February 2014 Thurston County Voters’ Pamphlet.

The suit, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, names the Olympia-based nonprofit and conservative think tank and citizens Carl Japhet, John Kiely, Michael Volz, Terry Ballard and Christie Shock as plaintiffs.

In an exclusive interview with The Olympian on Thursday, Freedom Foundation attorney Dave Roland said his organization sent a letter to every county auditor in the state, offering to help them find authors in support and against local measures. Pierce County and King County auditors took the organization up on its offer, he said.

But Thurston County’s pamphlet was published without opposition statements for any of its measures.

“The issue is that far too frequently in Washington, where you have a local voters’ pamphlet, voters may get one side of the issue,” Roland said.

A copy of the Dec. 19 letter was included as Exhibit A in the lawsuit, and exhibit B is a copy of the certified mail receipts.

“It’s strictly a question of, ‘What are the legal responsibilities of the county auditor?’” Roland said.

Hall said her office didn’t receive any letters in opposition for the six measures that are on the ballot.

“An effort was made to solicit supportive and opposing statements for these ballot measures,” according to Hall’s letter in the voter pamphlet. “A request for statements was published in the newspapers, sent to the media, the major political parties, the many Chambers of Commerce, and the League of Women Voters.”

Hall said the Freedom Foundation’s letter was received after the voter pamphlet’s deadline.

“We make every effort to go out and find opposing views, and so did the districts because it’s required by statute,” she said.

Hall said it’s not unusual to receive no statements against a measure.

“We have examples in our past elections where no statements against were submitted,” she said.

Hall said the Freedom Foundation has been added to a list of people and organizations that her office will reach out to for statements in the future.

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