Jedi or Sith?
Jedi or Sith? Brayden Olson Campaign

In early spring of 2012, when WA-8 Candidate Brayden Olson was a young business bro of 24, he was involved in a pretty pedestrian loan dispute that included accusations of a stolen lightsaber and a tire-scraped BMW. In a nominally separate case, he was also claimed as a third party defendant in a wage theft dispute involving the employees of Novel Inc., an educational gaming company Olson started and ran until the last few months of its existence. Ultimately the plaintiff in the loan case, Daniel Irish, an account manager who was brought on to replace Olson as CEO to sell Novel, dismissed all his claims and a settlement was reached with the employees of Novel.

The cases—which I'll lay out in a second—look like a bunch of rich people bullshit to me. But the matter of the missing toy lightsaber that was given to Irish by a friend “who had obtained it from George Lucas personally,” remains a mystery whose contours I'm willing to explore in more depth.

According to a complaint filed on behalf of Irish, Olson allegedly requested a loan of $25,000 “in order to continue to operate Novel Inc.” Irish says he loaned it to him under the condition that the money be used “for general corporate purposes, including operating expenses.”

He also claimed Olson scuffed a Beamer Irish was leasing and wrote a post-dated check for $1,400 to cover the damages. That check bounced, Irish claims, as did the other postdated checks Olson wrote to repay the loan from Irish. In the complaint, Irish claims Olson knew the checks would bounce, but he wrote them anyway.

In Olson's answer to the complaint, Olson admits Irish offered a personal loan—not a loan to Novel—but claimed Irish never transferred the funds he said he would, which is why the checks bounced.

In a separate case, four employees of Novel (Mike Marr, Garth Bonikowski, Gordon Ludlow, and Akintunde Adegbola) alleged wage theft on the part of Irish, who was CEO of Novel at the time, for not paying wages and bonuses due to them in April of 2012. Claiming Olson as a third party defendant, Irish alleged that he was only paid $7,500 of the $30,000 salary owed to him for serving as CEO of Novel Inc.

(Aside: It’s at this point in the story where I must admit that paying $15,000 in one month to anyone for doing anything astounds me. This dispute must be seen in the context of a world where workers with limited access to legal resources have to beg for years to be paid wages they already earned.)

Ultimately Irish dismissed those claims, and he ended up paying $45,000 in the settlement with Novel employees.

For his part of the settlement, Olson paid $60,000 in a deal that also secured him Novel's intellectual property.

Marr, the lead plaintiff in the wage theft case, said "Brayden and I worked together to resolve the dispute with a minimum of fuss and settled out of court. He and I remain friends to this day."

Irish says he "agrees with [Olson's] politics" but "would not be involved in business with him ever again."

A spokesman for Olson calls the complaints against Olson "a farce" that were "completely dismissed." He goes on: "The mediation records show this outcome clearly. The workers never filed a wage claim against Brayden. In fact, despite choosing to be the lowest paid worker at his company while working 16-hour days, he took out a personal $15,000 line of credit to make sure that the employees got paid prior to any of this. This demonstrates Brayden's steadfast commitment to doing the right thing."

The spokesperson then offered a self-serving dig at the Republican in the race, interim State Senator Dino Rossi, who is terrible, which I will publish here because that guy fucking sucks: "This history draws a line in the sand showing the extent Brayden will go to empower and protect the middle-class families around him compared to an opponent who recently voted to deprive these same families of paid family and medical leave."

Now about that lightsaber...

Congressional hopeful using the force.
Congressional hopeful using the force. Dan Irish's Facebook

Mr. Irish claims in an early draft of his lawsuit that he should also be paid damages for a lost toy energy sword, a property claim that didn't make the final cut but that was discussed extensively by the lawyers involved in the case. He says he left the toy energy sword at Olson's apartment after the two played a Star Wars Xbox game.

Olson calls this story a "fabrication." He admits Irish brought over a "battle lightsaber, one of those $100 ones, which was cool," but says he doesn't know what happened to it. "I never had possession of it," he said finally.

The photo above was taken before the loan dispute and the wage theft claims.

Following seven-term Congressman Dave Reichert's announcement that he wouldn't seek re-election in 2018, Democrats are desperately hoping to flip Washington's 8th district from red to blue. Recent polling from the House Majority PAC shows Rossi trailing 42 percent to a generic Democrat's 43 percent with a margin of error at +/- 3.8 percent. There are currently eight Democrats active in the race. So far, Rossi has raised more than double the money of his closest competitor, Dr. Kim Schrier.