Labor, Lobbying, and Law Enforcement

MSNBC reports from Olympia:

A criminal investigation is under way and a powerful labor group has lost a major legislative fight because a lobbyist wrote lawmakers threatening to cut contributions to Democrats until a worker rights bill becomes law.

It is unclear what laws this e-mail might violate. Lobbyist behavior is an area watched by the Public Disclosure Commission. No complaint had been filed or inquiry begun as of Wednesday evening, spokeswoman Lori Anderson said.

One statute that might be pertinent is that lobbyists cannot exercise “any undue influence, extortion or unlawful retaliation on any legislator by reason of the legislator’s position with respect to or vote upon any pending or proposed legislation,” she said.

So what’s the¬†connection to reform of the state’s lobbying laws?¬† The Olympian picks up the story:

A bill requiring lobbyists to report their entertainment expenses and gifts to lawmakers in more publicly identifiable ways has died in the Washington Legislature.
Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, and Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, both said they worked out agreements with leadership to revive House Bill 1436 ahead of Thursday’s bill cutoff by amending it to another piece of legislation.

But that fell apart Wednesday after a controversy erupted over an e-mail from the Washington Labor Council, which triggered a call for a State Patrol investigation. The labor council e-mail contained an apparent threat to withhold campaign donations from Democrats if they didn’t pass a bill protecting workers from mandatory workplace meetings about unionization.

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