Building Industry Association of Washington

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The Building Industry Association of Washington has funneled half a million dollars into the I-1082 campaign

The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), headquartered in Olympia, Washington, is  a  powerful and deeply ideological political lobby run by a small group of right wing zealots who have long sought the destruction of Washington’s common wealth. The BIAW is known for its crude  attack ads, its inflammatory rhetoric, and its inability to comply with public disclosure laws.

Award-winning journalist David Neiwert has aptly described the BIAW as “the orca killers” for suing to try to have Washington’s state marine mammal thrown off of the Endangered Species List.

The BIAW claims to represent Washington’s builders, but it is not a bottom-up, democratic organization. Many of its members despise the BIAW’s current leadership and the way it operates. In fact, within the last few years, the BIAW has been sued by some of own members and even its largest local affiliate for breach of fiduciary duty. The BIAW was also taken to court by Attorney General Rob McKenna – who the BIAW supported for the job in 2004 – for violating campaign finance laws. (The BIAW recently settled this lawsuit, agreeing to pay several hundreds of thousands of dollars to the State of Washington).

Assets in Washington State

The BIAW’s primary assets are its insurance pool, operated by BIAW’s Member Services Corporation, and its headquarters (McCleary Mansion in Olympia).

Lobbying

The BIAW does not operate outside of Washington State, so it does not do any lobbying at the federal level. It also does not donate to candidates running for federal office (president, U.S. House, or U.S. Senate).

The BIAW’s lobbyists in Olympia are Trent Matson, Elliot Swaney, and Brian Minnich. All three are employed directly by the BIAW. BIAW’s lobbying expenses in 2009 amounted to $176,523.31. (Source: PDC data).

What the BIAW Wants

The reason the BIAW has traditionally had a lot of clout – and money to spend – is because it operates an industrial insurance pool. See, Washington law requires that Evergreen State employers carry industrial insurance, to take care of workers who get injured on the job (in return, employers cannot be held liable for workplace injuries and illnesses.)

The BIAW wants to tear this system — which has served us well for many decades — apart. They’re so greedy that they think they can profit even more by privatizing industrial insurance. This is what Initiative 1082 is all about.

But in the meantime, they continue to profit from the current system (as they have for years), by exploiting a loophole in the retrospective rating (a.k.a. ROII) program, commonly known as retro.

Retro was created by the Legislature many years ago, and is overseen by the Department of Labor & Industries. It allows employers to get back some of the money they put up for industrial insurance if they had a safe year.

Businesses are allowed to participate in the program individually, but most join pools, to share and minimize their risk. The BIAW happens to operate the largest and most successful pool in the state, serving builders. But instead of distributing one hundred percent of the refunds it gets back to its members, however, BIAW keeps a certain percentage to use for electioneering.

It’s a perfect example of greed. The BIAW is exploiting a progressive idea to achieve destructive right wing ends. The whole point of retro is to provide an incentive for worker safety, and reward businesses that make worker protection a high priority. The BIAW is manipulating the system and cheating its members.

The recession and the aforementioned lawsuits, however, have hurt BIAW financially, and the retro loophole is no longer the cash cow it used to be.

So the BIAW is colluding with big insurance companies like Liberty Mutual to deregulate our publicly administered industrial insurance system.

The BIAW wants a free-for-all, where insurance companies like Liberty Mutual and AIG – yes, that AIG! – can kick everybody else around and make big profits.

Liberty Mutual and AIG just so happen to be the big players in industrial insurance in other states. They’re pretty good at making profits, but they’re awfully bad at taking care of people. In fact, they’re so bad that they’ve been fined for illegally denying claims just south of the Columbia in Oregon.

Profile

  • Contribution Address:  PO Box 1909, Olympia, WA 98507
  • Chief Executive: Matthew Clarkson (President)

Contribution History for 2010 Cycle

From Public Disclosure Commission records…
Amount Date Initiative/Sponsor Committee Given To
$4,000 (In Kind) 08/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100 (In Kind) 08/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100 (In Kind) 07/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$455.40 (In Kind) 07/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$2,516.41 (In Kind) 07/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$1,500 (In Kind) 07/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$1,500 (In Kind) 06/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100 (In Kind) 06/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$55.37 (In Kind) 06/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$50,000 06/10/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100,000 06/04/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100,000 05/26/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$50,000 05/20/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100,000 05/12/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$1,500 (In Kind) 05/11/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100 (In Kind) 05/11/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$440.67 (In Kind) 05/11/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$901.31 (In Kind) 04/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$1,500 (In Kind) 04/30/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$1,500 (In Kind) 03/31/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington
$100,000 03/31/2010 1082 (Trent Matson) Save our Jobs Washington

Total amount shelled out by BIAW for electioneering: $516,269.16

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