The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission on Thursday ruled that Lynnwood City Councilmember Josh Binda violated state law by failing to file his 2022 F1 paperwork, also known as a Personal Financial Affairs Statement or a financial disclosure.
The F1 disclosure was adopted by Washington voters in 1972 and requires elected officials to submit their personal and business finances for public view. Because Binda did not submit this paperwork, the PDC ordered him to pay $1,250 that he already owes to the commission or be issued a $300 fine.
Binda incurred the same violation of the law — RCW 42.17A.700 — last year and was fined $250, with $125 suspended on the conditions that the remaining $125 was paid and Binda committed no further violations. Both conditions were violated, so the full $250 fee was eventually sent to a collection agency.
The other $1,000 Binda owes to the PDC was the result of multiple violations related to his 2021 election campaign. In January 2023, the PDC found that Binda misused approximately $3,000 of his campaign funds for personal expenses. At the time, the PDC suggested a $2,000 fine, which was lowered to $1,000. Of that fine, $500 was suspended if he made timely payment of the other half and had no further RCW violations in the next four years.
July 6 hearing
The July 6 commission hearing confirmed that Binda already owed the agency $1,250 for the aforementioned violations. Binda failed to file his 2022 F1 statement for a second time and so the fine for this new occurrence was raised to $300.
Newly elected PDC Chair Nancy Isserlis suspended the full $300 fine on two conditions: that Binda pay his current outstanding fines within 30 days and that he incurs no further violations for the next four years.
According to information disclosed during the hearing, the PDC sent Binda nine reminders to his personal and city email addresses during the months leading up to the April 2023 filing deadline. Binda did not communicate with the PDC until the Thursday hearing.
During the virtual hearing, Binda stated that he attempted to pay the $1,000 fine in March. After driving to the PDC headquarters in Olympia, Binda was told he would be unable to pay electronically and would be required to submit payment using a check or cashier’s check.
“Since you went there and met the man at the front desk, have you made any attempt to pay the fine?” asked Isserlis, who later confirmed with another employee that the PDC does not accept electronic payments.
“Since that had transpired, I had not made an attempt to pay because a lot of things happened,” Binda replied. “I recently had gotten my car stolen and there’s a bunch of other financial burdens that I’ve been put under that I have not been able to pay that since.” Binda also stated that he did not see the reminders as he receives a lot of emails.
Additionally, Binda said he didn’t fully understand the severity of the F1 fines and that he thought it was very common for other politicians to file their F1 statements late.
Binda’s time as a councilmember has been turbulent, with an ethics violation and an active recall effort overshadowing his public speaking initiatives relating to social justice and tolerance. As such, detractors have kept a close watch on his activities. The latest PDC complaint was submitted by Diodato Boucsieguez, organizer of the attempt to recall Binda, about two weeks after Binda missed the filing deadline.
However, there are those who believe that Binda is being unfairly singled out. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of Snohomish County in May announced it was launching an investigation into alleged targeting of Binda by the news media and his fellow city councilmembers.
— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis