The staff of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission will recommend no enforcement action against What’s Upstream
The Washington Public Disclosure Commission staff has rejected a farm group’s complaint that the Environmental Protection Agency, a Puget Sound tribe and a Seattle lobbying firm broke state law by not registering What’s Upstream as a political organization.
During the 2016 legislative session, What’s Upstream sought to rally public support for mandatory 100-foot buffers between farms and waterways. The campaign, however, did not advocate for a specific bill or initiative, PDC Executive Director Evelyn Fielding Lopez said today.
The staff’s recommendation will be forwarded to the commission and the state attorney general’s office for review.
Save Family Farming, a pro-agriculture group, had alleged Swinomish Indian Tribe environmental policy director Larry Wasserman, former EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran and Strategies 360 should have registered What’s Upstream as a political organization and a grass-roots lobbying effort.
The tribe hired Strategies 360 using an EPA grant to poll voter attitudes toward mandatory buffers and proposed using EPA funds to sponsor an initiative. The tribe withdrew the plan and did not file an initiative.
A “take action” link on the What’s Upstream website facilitated a letter-writing campaign to legislators. The letter urged lawmakers to consider mandating buffers, but did not refer to a particular piece of legislation.
An audit by the EPA Office of Inspector General into whether the tribe and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission has not been released. Several federal lawmakers asked for the probe, alleging What’s Upstream organizers misused public funds to lobby.
What’s Upstream had a six-year, $655,000 budget, but neither the EPA nor the fisheries commission has revealed how much was spent.