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Three Washington groups allegedly ran ‘coordinated intimidation campaign’ against signature drive

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(The Center Square) – Let’s Go Washington has sent a cease-and-desist letter to three organizations it’s accused of illegally interfering with its signature gathering efforts for initiatives to be placed on the November 2024 ballot.

The letter, written by former State Attorney General Rob McKenna, accuses Fuse Washington, SEIU 775 and Washington D.C.-based Fieldworks of engaging in “a coordinated intimidation campaign against contractors for our client, Let’s Go Washington, and voters, to disrupt and prevent the collection of voter signatures for several initiative petitions in Washington.”

The letter was sent on Dec. 14, the same day Let’s Go Washington turned in 400,000 signatures for Initiative 2113, which would restore the ability of police officers to pursue criminal suspects.

The letter claims that individuals affiliated with one or more of these groups harassed signature collectors in various cities including Ridgefield, Camas, and Tacoma. In several instances, the incidents prompted a police response but also “caused petition signing by voters to be disrupted or terminated at that location,” according to the letter.

“It’s unconscionable and illegal activity, openly driven and coordinated by these activist groups,” Let’s Go Washington Founder Brian Heywood said in a news release statement. “The harassment and intimidation of Washington voters and initiative workers needs to end. The initiative process is one of the state’s most fundamental democratic rights and they are brazenly working to suppress it. They have to end this intimidation campaign right now or we’ll be forced to settle this in court.”

The Center Square reached out to the Secretary of State’s Office for comment. SOS Media Relations Coordinator Derrick Nunnally told The Center Square that their office has no investigative or enforcement power regarding interference with signature gathering.

“Our role has been to help with awareness of what the laws are, including laws against harassing folks who are attempting to participate in democracy, which is what signature gathering is,” he said, adding that if anyone witnesses interference they should contact local law enforcement.

Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs issued a statement in July 2023 stating that harassing or impeding the signature-gathering process in any way is a misdemeanor.

Earlier this month, a hotline was set up by the Washington State Democrats for people to report signature gathering locations. When The Center Square called the hotline for possible comment on the cease-and-desist letter, it was sent to a voicemail asking to provide information about a signature gathering location.

Let’s Go Washington is also alleging that groups opposed to the initiatives have tried to bribe signature gatherers to “relocate to Florida until after the signature gathering period has ended. We expect to see the full disclosure of these opposition campaign expenditures in the PDC filing reports as required by state law.”

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