AUTO Strikes Back

By Anthony Broadman

The Washington gas station trade group AUTO launched its latest salvo against the relationship between the State of Washington and its neighbor tribes last week.

AUTO sued Friends of Bob Ferguson (FBC), a PAC supporting the campaign of the Washington State Attorney General, alleging that FBC’s acceptance of tribal campaign contributions is illegal under state law.  The Complaint is available via Turtle Talk here.

As is usual with AUTO’s attacks, the suit raises core questions about how Washington tribes' role in Washington state government. Seeking a full accounting of all tribal funds contributed to FBC, AUTO’s suit, which follows similar efforts in administrative rulemaking, strikes at the heart of tribes’ involvement in state political campaign activity. The suit comes amidst revelations about Tribes' political contributions to the DNC as part of a recent email hack/wiki leaks release.  

Washington tribes are no doubt indispensible (and in theory immune) to answering that question.  AUTO is building on its mind-boggling victory in AUTO I (2012), in which the state supreme court somehow held that Washington Tribes were not indispensible to a suit over state-tribal fuel compacts.  

And if tribal contributions to FBC violate the Washington Fair Campaign Practices Act, tribes would have profound free speech limitations, under a Citizens United theory.  AUTO’s latest remains one to watch for Washington tribes and state politicians who align with tribes to help solve Washington’s problems.

Anthony Broadman is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC. He can be reached at 206.321.2672,, or via