A complaint filed with the PDC claims that anti-trans activists are flouting campaign disclosure rules, innocence be damned.
A complaint filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission claims that Washington's anti-trans activists are getting outside help. Alex Garland

LGBTQ advocacy group Equal Rights Washington (ERW) has filed a complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission alleging that Just Want Privacy, the group behind proposed anti-trans ballot measure I-1515, isn’t playing by the state’s campaign disclosure rules.

According to the complaint filed on Tuesday, ERW claims that Just Want Privacy isn’t reporting help it allegedly receives from the Family Research Council, an extremist anti-LGBTQ group based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, ERW says that Just Want Privacy has failed to report in-kind contributions from Family Policy Institute of Washington staff and did not report as much as $20,000 worth of contributions on time.

“[What’s] most concerning to me is that there are outside groups contributing to the campaign that aren’t being accounted for,” Monisha Harrell, board chair of ERW, said. “It doesn’t give us an idea of who’s really funding or backing this initiative, and I think there’s significant concern that many anti-LGBT national organizations are trying to overturn our nondiscrimination laws here in Washington State.”

ERW’s evidence for outside involvement is a status update posted to Just Want Privacy’s Facebook page on June 24. “We’ve been working hard to get the word and [petition] materials to churches across the state,” the post reads. “Even the Family Research Council from Washington DC has lent a helping hand.”

But Just Want Privacy’s in-kind contributions filed to the PDC do not show any help from the Family Research Council.

The ERW complaint also claims that Just Want Privacy’s campaign finance records for the month of May don’t include wages paid to Joseph Backholm, Just Want Privacy campaign chairman and director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, and two other Just Want Privacy staffers. The same complaint says that as much as $20,000 in contributions were reported to the PDC a month after they had been deposited.

Backholm told me that he and his team are still reviewing the allegations in the complaint. (He also asked if I would publish an update “when the PDC finds the complaints don’t merit any action.")

Just Want Privacy has nine more days to obtain the 246,000 signatures it needs to qualify for the November ballot. At this point, Harrell, the chair of ERW, suspects they might get them.

“If I were just to look at just what's on their PDC I would say it would be difficult,” Harrell said. “But because we believe that there's outside assistance that's been working on this we have not been able to fully assess their resources.”