What Redmond Pastor Ken Hutcherson Failed to Disclose About His "Christian Values"–Fueled Campaign
It's well known that Pastor Ken Hutcherson, the leader of Redmond's Antioch Bible Church, has it out for the members of the Snoqualmie Valley School Board. They got on his bad side in 2008 by allowing a "Day of Silence" at Mount Si High School that was designed to raise awareness of discrimination faced by gay teenagers.
What's less well known is that after Hutcherson lost his 2008 fight over the Mount Si Day of Silence, and after he got booed while speaking at Mount Si's Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly that same year, he quietly made it his business to make the entire Snoqualmie Valley School District feel some pain.
Specifically, this year Hutcherson used money from a nonprofit he controls to help fight against a $56 million bond measure that would have helped repair Mount Si High School's decaying floors, installed wheelchair accessible ramps in the school's portables, and fixed other buildings in the district (while also paying for construction of a new middle school).
"I said, 'All right, there's more than one way to skin a cat,'" Hutcherson told The Stranger on September 16, explaining his opposition to the bond measure.
The measure failed by one vote in a February 8 special election. Then, after Hutcherson took out a newspaper ad against it and flew an anti-bond-measure banner behind an airplane, the measure failed again in an April 26 special election—this time by about 1,000 votes.
Problem is: Hutcherson didn't tell the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission about the money he was spending to fight the bond measure, even though he was behind two sizable independent expenditures. In April, Hutcherson used the nonprofit KHM Families Inc. to pay $450 for the half-page ad, which ran in the Snoqualmie Valley Record and urged people to vote no on the bond measure because "we cannot trust the school board to protect our children." He also used the nonprofit to foot the $500 bill for hiring the airplane to pull a banner around the school district's skies reading: "VOTE NO ON THE SNO VALLEY SCHOOL BOND."
Hutcherson told The Stranger that he wasn't aware of the reporting requirements, and that the expenditures fit within his nonprofit's mission, "Because it's for helping families—helping families stand strong on the Christian values." (The most recent tax filing available for KHM Families Inc. declares that the nonprofit operates "exclusively for charitable and religious purposes.")
Hutcherson added that he resorted to hiring a plane to pull a banner because "it cost more than a hit man." He then said he was joking about the hit-man thing.
Lori Anderson, spokesperson for the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, says Hutcherson's lack of expenditure reporting could ultimately result in a fine, "if they don't file the report." The commission, Anderson said, will be getting in touch with him.
Hutcherson, for his part, said he's waiting to be contacted. "I have not heard anything," he said. "If they want the books, the books are wide open."
With research by news intern Marley Zeno.