Freed agrees to civil penalty to resolve campaign finance, reporting violations

Christel Deskins

A former Republican gubernatorial candidate and current write-in candidate for lieutenant governor has agreed to a civil penalty with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Joshua Freed’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign repaid him at least $450,000 of a $500,000 loan that he made to the campaign, which violated a $6,000 […]

A former Republican gubernatorial candidate and current write-in candidate for lieutenant governor has agreed to a civil penalty with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

Joshua Freed’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign repaid him at least $450,000 of a $500,000 loan that he made to the campaign, which violated a $6,000 repayment limit.

He’s agreed to a $50,000 penalty, with half of it suspended as long as he doesn’t have further violations — according to a “stipulation as to facts, violations and penalty” the commission approved by a 5-0 vote Thursday.

Freed’s attorney, Mark Lamb, told the Commission that he thought the resolution was reasonable. He argued, “The public was not deprived prior to the election of knowing that Joshua Freed had infused his campaign with a large amount of money,” or that that money was returned to him.

In a letter filed with the PDC, Lamb wrote, “The campaign erroneously classified the initial contribution as a loan … .”

Lamb told The News Tribune: “The voters of Washington state had a clear picture that Joshua Freed supported his campaign for governor, and they had that picture well in advance of the primary.”

He noted that federal law comes to a different conclusion than state law on the repayment issue.

The stipulation said Freed didn’t “timely and accurately” file reports about the money and repayment and that he filed “reports concerning the contribution/loan that were not correct as was certified.”

The stipulation also said he failed “to record the loan in a written agreement executed at the time of the loan.”

The document said Freed, who is a former mayor of Bothell, hasn’t had any such violations in the past. And it noted that, though there were inaccuracies, his campaign for governor did file timely reports.

It also said: “The public was deprived of significant Campaign finance information for a good portion of the 2020 Primary Election cycle concerning the loans and/or contributions made by Mr. Freed to his Campaign,” and that, “At the time made, the loans and/or contribution made by Mr. Freed to his campaign made up the majority of the campaign’s funds.”

The campaign “had a professional organization with experienced staff administering it,” and was “for the highest statewide elected office,” the stipulation said.

Freed was one of 36 candidates for governor in the August primary. With nearly 9 percent of the vote, he did not advance to the Nov. 3 general election in that race.

Now he’s running a write-in campaign for lieutenant governor.

Asked by the commission if Freed was current with his reporting obligations for that campaign, PDC staff said he was current as of a Sept. 10 reporting deadline.

Out of 11 candidates in the primary for lieutenant governor, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck got 25 percent of the vote. He and State Sen. Marko Liias, both Democrats, will be on the November ballot. Liias had 18.5 percent of the votes in August.

The top two candidates in a primary advance to the general election, regardless of party.

In a video posted to a Freed for Lieutenant Governor Facebook page Wednesday, Freed said: “I’m excited about Washington’s future with new conservative leadership. A leadership that’s focusing on opening the economy, a leadership that’s focusing on and creating trade relationships with nations around the world to make sure that producers here are able to sell their products.”

Part of Freed’s campaign website says: “As a small business owner, Joshua Freed understands the tenacity it takes to tackle challenges. Joshua’s experience as a leader in small business, local government, and helping those in need make him uniquely qualified to tackle the biggest challenges facing our state.”

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©2020 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Visit The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) at www.TheNewsTribune.com

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