Attorneys across Washington state are condemning former Attorney General Rob McKenna’s involvement in an ad opposing the carbon fee ballot initiative, Initiative 1631. It's unethical, they say.
'No on 1631' ads featuring McKenna clog commercial breaks on cable networks as well as streaming services. They're everywhere, and they're disingenuous.
"As Attorney General,” McKenna says in the ad, “consumer protection was my top priority—that’s why I’m speaking out against Initiative 1631.”
What he fails to disclose is that he works as an attorney for the Chevron Corporation.
Chevron is a company that has donated $500,000 alone to the 'No on 1631' campaign, and a company that will be directly impacted by a carbon fee if it passes. This nondisclosure on McKenna's behalf may be a violation of the Washington State Court's Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC).
Knoll Lowney is an attorney who has spoken out against McKenna and is representing the Washingtonians for Ethical Government (WFEG), a nonprofit founded to serve as an open government and campaign finance watchdog. Together, they've filed a formal complaint with the Washington State Bar Association against McKenna.
“In reality,” reads the complaint filed by WFEG, “Mr. McKenna has not served as Attorney General for more than five years, and currently serves as an attorney representing Chevron Corporation.”
This could be a violation of the RPC. One section states that “a lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.”
Additionally, McKenna intentionally obfuscated his employment history by editing his LinkedIn profile to not list Chevron as one of his clients.
Lowney and WFEG are going to Orrick—the law firm McKenna works for—at Columbia Tower today to talk through that complaint.
“McKenna breached his ethical duties by actively concealing that he is attacking I-1631 as a lawyer for Chevron,” Lowner wrote in a statement. “McKenna should be sanctioned for violating the ethical rules.”
According to Lowney, McKenna is not speaking for the consumer or attorney general.
Other attorneys have banded together on the 'Yes on 1631' site, where they have signed a petition to condemn McKenna’s unethical failures. So far, 36 attorneys have signed the petition. More are expected to sign on as it makes it way through their networks.
“Regardless of whether McKenna violated the text of [the RPC],” wrote one lawyer in an email to The Stranger, “he is clearly in violation of its spirit.”