The cost to taxpayers of illegal campaigning by the Washington House was increased Wednesday by more than $87,000.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks ordered the attorney general and the House to pay $58,000 in attorney fees and $25,600 in penalties to The News Tribune of Tacoma, The Olympian newspaper here and Tacoma attorney Scott Candoo. Additional miscellaneous costs were assessed at $3,800.
The two newspapers and Candoo had sued for release of documents detailing three settlements paid in the illegal-campaign case in 1993 and 1994. More than $600,000 in public funds was used to settle lawsuits filed by former House staffers who said they were fired because they refused to campaign on public time or to use state facilities for campaign purposes.
The records on the lawsuits were sealed, and the state House and the office of Attorney General Christine Gregoire had refused to make the documents public.
Hicks ordered the records unsealed Aug. 10. The state declined to appeal and provided the press with the documents Aug. 25.
Wednesday’s hearing was scheduled to consider attorney fees and penalties.
There was little argument over the attorney fees. By law, the winning side in a public-disclosure lawsuit is entitled to attorney fees. The judges awarded The News Tribune $31,000, The Olympian $21,000 and Candoo $6,000.
The thousands of pages of docu ments did no more than fortify findings of illegal campaigning by the House.
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