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Court finds governor’s office misrepresentation was negligent

December 13, 2021

Reserves ruling on sanctions pending further briefing

Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon stopped short of sanctioning the governor’s office, but recognized that his staff made a “material misrepresentation” in a sworn affidavit about his appointment to the Washington State Building Code Council that was “negligent, and perhaps even reckless or intentional.”

Dixon declined to levy penalties against the assistant attorney general representing the governor in the case. However, he asked for further briefing on his options for sanctions. Watch the proceedings on TVW. 

BIAW denied representation on Building Code Council

The Building Industry Association of Washington sued the Governor in September. They allege his appointment to fill the seat reserved for the residential construction industry on the State Building Code Council illegally deprives them of the representation required under the law.

In the Dec. 10 hearing, BIAW requested sanctions in the case after the Attorney General’s Office admitted the governor’s office misrepresented that his appointee had been nominated by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild.

In correcting the issue, the attorney general’s office waited nearly a month before informing opposing counsel and the court.  In the meantime, the Governor’s office solicited a formal nomination from the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild and had Lt. Gov. Denny Heck appoint the nominee in the Governor’s absence.

Nominee required from trade association

In its underlying lawsuit, BIAW argues the appointment still violates the law which requires the governor to appoint only people who have been nominated by “trade associations representing the industry, unless no names are put forth by the trade associations.” This requirement ensures that groups affected by the code have a role in changes made to the code and the timing of their implementation.

BIAW negotiated the language in the law to ensure the industry was fairly represented on the council. In its briefing to the court, BIAW points out the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is not even a registered trade association.

Games completely unnecessary

“The sad thing is all of these games are completely unnecessary,” said Jackson Maynard, General Counsel for the Building Industry Association of Washington. “All we’ve asked is for the governor to follow the law, stop playing politics with the Council and allow BIAW to represent residential construction and have our nominee at the table as we have for years. The court’s ruling today gets us one step closer to holding the governor accountable and accomplishing those goals.”

Additional background:

Dec. 6. 2021: Court to hear BIAW’s Building Code Council motion on Friday
Nov. 22, 2021: Governor’s Office admits misrepresenting facts in building code council lawsuit
Sept. 10, 2021: BIAW, AGC fight illegal building code appointments

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