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Former state AG calls labor group’s proposed Amazon lawsuit ‘ludicrous’

Rob McKenna was the Washington state Attorney General from 2005-13, and was a Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2012. (AP)
LISTEN: Former state AG Rob McKenna on Working Washington's desire to prosecute Amazon

The labor rights group Working Washington compares the Amazon response to Seattle’s proposed head tax to the behavior of a mob boss.

They want to see a lawsuit as a result, but do the accusations have any merit? Former state Attorney General Rob McKenna says absolutely not.

“This is ludicrous,” McKenna told KTTH Radio’s Jason Rantz. “This is so irresponsible. I haven’t seen anything like it since Councilmember [Kshama] Sawant accused two police officers involved in a shooting of murder.”

In a blog post, Working Washington cites RCW 9A.76.180, the part of Washington state code outlawing the use of threats to intimidate public servants. They say Amazon’s decision to halt new construction while they wait for the outcome of the head tax vote violates this statute. They encourage current state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to prosecute Amazon over it.

“They’re relying on the last bullet point under that definition of threat which includes an intent ‘to do any other act which is intended to harm substantially the person threatened or another with respect to his or her health, safety, business, financial condition, or personal relationships,'” McKenna said.

That definition doesn’t apply in this case, McKenna explained.

“First of all, the statute is clearly aimed at threats directed at individual public servants,” McKenna said. “Not at general statements expressing concern over the city’s policies.”

Working Washington is also encouraging their supporters to sign letters to Attorney General Ferguson in an attempt to motivate him to take action. McKenna pointed out there’s an irony to the situation, in that it’s actually possible to accuse Working Washington of extortion for making an accusation they know is untrue.

“I think it’s clearly unethical and hypocritical,” McKenna said. “Which is to say, even if it’s not a crime, it’s wrong to misuse the criminal code to accuse the company for political ends.”

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