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Laws And Litigation

WASHINGTON — The federal government paid $11.3 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies from 1995 to 2012 to 50 billionaires or businesses in which they have some form of ownership, according to a report released by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based research organization.

The billionaires who received the subsidies or owned companies that did include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, investment titan Charles Schwab, and S. Truett Cathy, owner of the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain. The billionaires who got the subsidies have a collective net worth of $316 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

The Working Group said its findings were likely to underestimate the total farm subsidies that went to the billionaires on the Forbes 400 list because many also received crop insurance subsidies. Federal law prohibits the disclosure of the names of individuals who get crop insurance subsidies, the group said. read more »


A public agency in the Wenatchee area that defaulted on its debt will pay $20,000 to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the first municipal issuer fined for misleading investors.

The Greater Wenatchee Regional Events Center Public Facilities District, which financed an events center and ice-hockey arena, defaulted in 2011 on notes issued in 2008. The SEC said Tuesday that the district in an official statement claimed there were no independent reviews of the center’s financial projections, even though a consultant twice raised questions about its viability.

“Financial penalties against municipal issuers are appropriate for sanctioning and deterring misconduct when, as here, they can be paid from operating funds without directly impacting taxpayers,” Andrew Ceresney, co-director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement. He said offering documents gave investors “a false picture.” read more »


The City of Bainbridge Island will conduct a public hearing during the City Council meeting Nov. 13 on a proposed ordinance to establish a moratorium on marijuana growing, and to adopt interim regulations for marijuana processing, retailing, and collective gardens.

The council’s regular business meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 280 Madison Ave.

Comments on the proposed ordinance may be submitted prior to the meeting date to the City Clerk’s office. Comments may be delivered in person, mailed or emailed to cityclerk [at] bainbridgewa [dot] gov.

Cover Story

At 24 feet, the Windermere Real Estate building, which once housed the iconic Gig Harbor Inn, is the tallest building in the waterfront zone included in the proposed amendment.Kit Kuhn is like many downtown Gig Harbor merchants. As online shopping proliferates and shopping centers are built in other parts of town, his small store, Kit Kuhn A Jeweler Designed for You, is struggling to get foot traffic. Even before the economy took a turn for the worse, he says the downtown wasn’t vibrant — and was much less busy than two decades ago.

Kuhn is one of many people who weighed in on a proposal to allow taller buildings in a portion of downtown read more »


OLYMPIA — The Attorney General’s Office announced it is proceeding with its lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association against I-522 for violations of state campaign finance laws, even though the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) registered its political committee with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on Oct. 18.

The GMA is a trade association based in Washington, D.C., representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies. Its political committee is the largest single donor to the No on 522 campaign, contributing more than $11 million to date to the campaign against Initiative 522, the ballot measure that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods, seeds and seed products in Washington state. read more »


The state’s largest used-car dealership pleaded guilty this week to financial reporting crimes, and will forfeit $1.5 million and pay a $250,000 fine.

According to the government, Zein Automobiles Inc., which does business as Independence Auto Sales and Best Bet Auto Sales with locations in Lynnwood and Everett, sold cars to undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents, who told the dealerships they were buying the cars for drug trafficking.

“The sales people assured the agents that they were familiar and comfortable with such transactions and proposed various schemes that they said would avoid the cash transactions reporting requirements. Such schemes are illegal,” according to the government. read more »


This past May, the federal government got serious about the issue of federal Internet sales tax legislation. That’s when the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, a law that would require businesses with more than $1 million in revenue to collect sales taxes from customers in all U.S. states and from any localities that charge sales tax.

The legislation has now moved to the House, which plans to completely redo it, to the relief of many online retailers. The Senate’s legislation “is very badly written … and it would very badly impact all the small and medium-sized online retailers and all the other American businesses that would be buried in paperwork trying to comply with the sales tax rules in 45 states, and Puerto Rico and various Indian Tribes,” says Kevin Hickey, owner of OnlineStores.com, a New Stanton, Pennsylvania-based company that owns a variety of online retail businesses. read more »


JPMorgan Chase and the Justice Department have reached a tentative $13 billion settlement over the bank’s questionable mortgage practices leading up to the financial crisis, a record penalty that would cap weeks of heated negotiating and underscore the extent of the bank’s legal woes, people briefed on the talks said Oct. 19.

To resolve an array of federal and state investigations into the bank’s sale of troubled mortgage securities to investors, the bank would be expected to pay about $9 billion in fines, according to one of the people.

JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank, also very likely will provide about $4 billion in relief for struggling homeowners, another person briefed on the talks said. read more »


The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has agreed to disclose the financing of its campaign opposing Initiative 522, the ballot measure that would require labeling of genetically engineered foods, seeds and seed products in Washington.

The agreement eliminates the need to seek court intervention to compel such disclosure. The GMA agreed to file reports with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission and produce information related to its members’ contributions by close of business on Oct. 18.

The GMA will create a separate political committee, register it with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), and file reports indicating who contributed, how much they contributed, and how the money was spent to oppose I-522. Once the reports are filed, the public can view them on the PDC’s website. read more »

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