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Wash. State's Current And Former AGs Exposed In NYTimes Influence Investigation

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Elaine Thompson
/
AP Photo
FILE - Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at a news conference about charges against a food industry group accused of violating state campaign finance laws, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in Seattle.

The current and former attorneys general of Washington state are among the subjects of a New York Times special report. The Times story details how companies under investigation by state AGs try to influence those cases. It also reveals how former AGs gain special access as industry representatives.

The investigation casts a wide net across the 50 states, but specifically calls out Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat. Ferguson has solicited campaign contributions from companies the attorney general’s office has investigated, like the makers of 5-hour ENERGY drink.

Ferguson’s office later sued 5-hour ENERGY for “deceptive marketing.” Ferguson pointed out he then refunded the contribution.

“Clearly a donation a donation of $1,000 from ETC Capital did not buy any favor from me with 5-Hour Energy, and I think that’s really the test from this,” Ferguson said.

The New York Times report also details how former Republican attorney general Rob McKenna lobbied Ferguson on behalf of corporate clients, including T-Mobile and Microsoft. Ferguson said that didn’t stop him from going after T-Mobile last year for deceptive advertising.

McKenna did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.