"It's clear that this anonymous group is trying to affect the outcome of Woodinville elections," said Boundy-Sanders, the lead witness on the complaint who is running unopposed for reelection to the Woodinville City Council. "Washington campaign law gives people a great deal of freedom to say anything they want about candidates, including statements they know to be false, and Ethical Woodinville has made full use of that freedom. But the law also includes some requirements: They are required to identify themselves by name, register with the PDC, and report their contributions and expenditures. Ethical Woodinville has failed to do these things."
“Washington's disclosure law is clear about its intent," said Al Taylor, a Woodinville Planning Commissioner, former City Council candidate and witness on the complaint. "Anonymous ads, and attacks on candidates that masquerade as issue ads, are specifically called out as tactics that foster corruption. If voters don't know who is sponsoring the ads, they can't assess credibility or motives. I think we can all agree that false, anonymous ads harm the democratic process."
Woodinville Patch has reached out to Ethical Woodinville in emails and while someone behind the account initially said they would answer "any questions," those questions have gone unanswered since Sept. 6.
"I'm disappointed that the people behind Ethical Woodinville have gone to so much trouble to remain anonymous," Paula Waters, former chair of the Woodinville Planning Commission and unopposed candidate for City Council said in the release. "If they believe what they are saying is true and fair, they should put their names behind their statements. Sadly, they are showing us what unethical and possibly even illegal behavior looks like. For the benefit of our City Council and our community, all of us need to strive to act with the utmost integrity."
"The most objectionable aspect of these anonymous attacks is that they are way off the mark," Steve Yabroff, chair of the Woodinville Planning Commission and witness on the complaint said in a news release. "Bernie's integrity is unassailable, and his calm, even-handed manner is a real plus for Woodinville."
"Bernie spends hours on the road nearly every day, advocating for Woodinville at regional meetings," Yabroff added. "As the saying goes, if you're not at the table you're on the menu. We can't afford to relapse to the days when Woodinville was a regional no-show, and it's very disappointing that people with ulterior motives would try to take us back to that status."
"Many citizens notice immediately that these attacks are anonymous," said Hank Stecker, a former deputy mayor of Woodinville. "Each of the attack mailings costs thousands of dollars, and the sheer numbers—four postcards, two robocalls, and a website so far—indicate both deep pockets and an ulterior motive. Development interests from outside of our city are trying to buy the election.”
"People who follow local politics know it's no coincidence that the pieces attack Bernie Talmas, the only incumbent with a challenger," Stecker added. "Bernie's opponent has received only a few contributions, but each contribution is huge, and a hundred percent of them trace back to the developers who want to turn downtown Woodinville and Sammamish agricultural lands into an Alderwood-style mall. People know there's only one explanation that makes any sense: Bernie's opponent and the attack pieces by Ethical Woodinville are funded by the same people. The goal is to buy a Council majority so these developers can line their own pockets."