The conservative Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW)—which is backing Initiative 1082, the workers' compensation privatization scheme, to the tune of $500,000—has been found by a Thurston County Superior Court judge to have mishandled tens of millions of dollars in member funds.
"It's the second time in a week that they've been found guilty of significant financial impropriety," said Collin Jergens, spokesman for the liberal advocacy group Fuse Washington, on September 30, when the judge's ruling was announced. (The first incident he was referring to? The $548,000 fine the BIAW agreed to pay on September 24 for violating state campaign-finance disclosure laws on behalf of Republican Dino Rossi in the 2008 governor race.)
"These guys clearly are not capable of managing their money well," Jergens continued. "They're not good financial stewards. And they're asking to play a greater role in our entire state's workers' compensation system under Initiative 1082. Why would we trust them?"
According to Jergens, the Thurston County judge found the BIAW had put money it currently makes from a complicated workers' comp kickback program into an interest-bearing account that earned the group $500,000—coincidentally, about the same amount the BIAW has put into 1098—when it wasn't allowed to do so.
Erin Shannon, spokesperson for the BIAW, laughed out loud at the claims of a court victory by Jergens and others, calling them "delusional."
"It's an absolute victory for BIAW," Shannon said, claiming that none of the damages the plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked for were awarded, and that they'd wasted years of effort and millions of dollars for a "win" that is barely a slap on the wrist.
Shannon said the problems identified by the judge were just "some technical paperwork and accounting procedural violations," and she added that the judge "found that there was no wrongdoing as far as how we spent the money or how it was handled or where it went."
So where did the money go? "I don't know what we've done with it," Shannon said.