What has Bob Ferguson been up to lately?
The second-term state A.G. garnered a lot of attention in 2017 for his many lawsuits against the Trump Administration. Since then the pace has slowed a little, but still stands at 32 Ferguson suits against Trump.
For Ferguson, it meant 32 opportunities to put out triumphant press releases, and host press conferences, and give radio soundbites to the press…Gosh, notice any theme here?
For a man who wants to run for governor, the Trump lawsuits are a chance to court the Democratic base and lock down support, blocking out potential rivals. No other Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls have the platform Ferguson does, by dint of being A.G., to “confront” Trump and give activists on the left what they want.
But what else is he doing?
Responding to former state A.G. Rob McKenna’s effective TV ads against the I-1631 carbon tax, Ferguson cut his own pro-carbon tax ads. “That’s why thisAttorney General is saying Yes on 1631,” Ferguson intoned.
But on election night, when it was clear voters were rejecting I-1631 handily, Ferguson chose to focus his comments on I-1639. The gun control initiative, after all, was winning. “Wait, the carbon tax is really unpopular? Hey, look at this instead!”
Oops, never mind
But that isn’t the only distraction Ferguson has needed lately. That’s because he embarrassingly had to drop charges last week in a “sales suppression software” tax evasion case that Ferguson previously touted as “potentially the largest in the country.”
Ferguson blasted the news far and wide in March when he charged the small Tacos Guaymas chain, owned by Salvador Sahagun, with not paying $5.6 million in sales tax. “When businesses pocket sales tax, they are stealing from Washington taxpayers,” Ferguson lectured. “That money should be funding our schools and parks, not deceptive businesses.”
Only trouble is, Ferguson had to backtrack big time, dropping all charges except a second-degree theft charge over $800 in unreported income. The only point of that ticky-tack charge, it would seem, is so Ferguson could save face and say he got the business on something.
Sahagun’s attorney told the Seattle Times:
They came up with what we think were absurdly high numbers,” Chicoine said. The alleged $5.6 million in stolen sales tax would have indicated nearly $56 million in sales over four years, Chicoine said. “That’s a lot of tacos … It just didn’t make sense.
In a paragraph that said it all, the Times noted, “In a statement Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office did not address the criticism and declined to discuss its actions.” When Ferguson announced the charges, he sent his press release to news outlets around the state. So did he do the same when he had to drop all the important charges?
What do you think?
Not the first time
If Ferguson’s oopsie-doo in the Tacos Guaymas case sounds familiar, you might be remembering his case against former Seahawk Sam Adams. Ferguson laid over 30 charges against Adams related to wage theft at two gyms Adams owned.
The case hung over Adams for two years, but this one, too, started falling apart. When it did, all felony fraud charges were dropped and Adams, who said he’d been defrauded by his billing company, agreed to pay unpaid back wages – which he said he’d been trying to do the entire time. His attorney told KIRO 7:
No one on the government side took the steps needed to conduct a forensic audit, thus the obvious fraud by the billing company was not detected by government investigators…if the basic requirements of criminal investigation had been followed, Sam and his former business associate would never have been charged, employees would have received their final paychecks and Sam and his family would have been spared years of needless heartache and expense.
Which is interesting, because it’s the same basic charge made by Sahagun’s attorney – that the state simply didn’t investigate very well, and that audits conducted on behalf of those charged led Ferguson’s cases to crumble.
Another wrinkle: Both of Ferguson’s highly-publicized fall-apart cases were against minority business owners. What’s up with that, Bob?