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Anti-Transgender I-1552 Campaign Caught Breaking the Law—Again
June 19, 2017

I-1552’s backers have engaged in some underhanded—and possibly illegal—tactics to promote their discriminatory, mean-spirited ballot initiative, including harassing people who won’t sign their ballot petitions.

Now, it looks like they may be breaking the law again. This time, it’s campaign finance law. 

Just Want Privacy PAC, the ballot initiative’s primary supporting group, has violated Washington State’s election laws by failing to report numerous contributions from extreme, anti-LGBTQ groups, according to a complaint filed today by Equal Rights Washington.

Monisha Harrell, Chair of the Board for Equal Rights Washington, says these unreported expenditures were the clearest evidence yet that the I-1552 campaign, far from being about bolstering public safety, is actually a bold-faced attempt to do the exact opposite.

“We all care about safety, but I-1552’s unreported backers are focused on furthering an anti-LGBTQ and discrimination agenda that will undermine public safety by encouraging more harassment and violence.” —Monisha Harrell, Chair of the Board for Equal Rights Washington

The complaint lays out in detail many unreported in-kind contributions (these include things like providing event logistics, staff time and other “significant campaign activities”) to Just Want Privacy from groups like the Family Policy Institute of Washington, Alliance Defending Freedom, State Rep. Graham Hunt, and others.

These unreported in-kind donations include more than a dozen “Gender Revolution” events in Aberdeen, Pasco, Spokane, Sequim, Bremerton, Tacoma, Wenatchee, Bellingham, Vancouver, and Bothell sponsored by the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW).

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), these events’ main purpose was to recruit volunteers and gather signatures on I-1552. In the complaint, the SPLC reports that Joseph Backholm, Just Want Privacy’s I-1552 campaign manager, gave explicit instructions that attendees should get involved in the campaign to pass I-1552, effectively qualifying them as campaign events and making them subject to stricter financial disclosure requirements.   

Staff time and organizational resources from another anti-LGBT group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, as well as former State Rep. Graham Hunt, were also dedicated to pro-I-1552 events and not reported as campaign expenditures. The SPLC lists the Alliance Defending Freedom as an extremist group.

In the wake of this disclosure, Seth Kirby, a transgender man and Chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, is encouraging everyone take a deeper look at the I-1552 campaign and the discriminatory motives behind it.

“I-1552 is harmful, unnecessary and unenforceable. Transgender people like me deserve the same basic protections as everyone else—to participate in public life and use public facilities with safety, privacy and dignity. Life is hard enough, let’s not make it worse for anyone. We should all be free to be our true selves.” —Seth Kirby, Chair, Washington Won’t Discriminate

Washingtonians who want to help defeat this discriminatory initiative can chip in to Washington Won’t Discriminate’s Decline to Sign I-1552 campaign before the initiative’s ballot certification signature collection deadline on July 7th.