The lobbyists hired by The I-5 Project Inc., a group that wants light rail removed from the Columbia River Crossing project, are refusing to file documents that would show who finances The I-5 Project Inc.
The Columbian reported earlier this month that The I-5 Project group hired three lobbyists to support alternatives to the CRC project, but that those lobbyists hadn’t finished filing the paperwork they’re supposed to with the state Public Disclosure Commission. Even after being nudged by the PDC to finish filing their documents, the lobbyists remain uncooperative, PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said.
Those lobbyists are Stephen Buckner of Millennia Public Affairs and Denny Eliason and Kim Clauson of Alliances Northwest.
Lobbyists are required to file a report each time they are hired by a new client. If the lobbyist’s new boss is an organization that receives at least $500 from any other group, then those donor groups must be listed with the filing, according to state law.
In an email to Anderson on May 6, Eliason indicated he would soon send the PDC that list on behalf of all of the lobbyists working for the I-5 Project group.
Several days later, however, the I-5 Project group’s attorney called the PDC to say the lobbyists did not need to provide the donor list, Anderson said.
“I don’t agree with that answer,” she said. “They need to provide the list, and I’ve told them that.”
The attorney working on behalf of The I-5 Project group is Anthony McCormick of the Perkins Coie firm in Seattle, Anderson said. When reached by phone Wednesday, McCormick said he couldn’t comment on any of his clients.
“I’m going to continue to argue with them until I get the list,” Anderson said. “Contract lobbyists always want to be in compliance. They want to all have good reputations, and I think Denny (Eliason) is no different. I expect that he will give me the list” despite what his client says, she added.
On the lobbying forms that were filed, The I-5 Project Inc. is described as a “coalition supporting transportation solutions for the I-5 corridor in the Greater Vancouver area.” The group’s treasurer is Clark County Republican Precinct Committee Officer Mark Engleman. Earlier this month, Engleman disputed that the organization must file a donor list.
“Those funding this organization do not have to be listed,” he said in a story comment on The Columbian’s website. “This is confirmed by I-5 Project lawyers.”
In April, The I-5 Project paid Alliances Northwest $2,500 for lobbying, $81.36 for lobbyists’ personal expenses such as food and travel, and $64.42 for other lobbying-related costs, according to a different document filed with the PDC this month.