A Thurston County judge has denied property rights activist Glen Morgan’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him over a series of controversial campaign robocalls that his political groups sponsored about the Thurston County Commission candidates in the weeks leading up to November’s election.
Morgan’s motion for summary judgment was denied Jan. 20 by Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy. She signed an order stating that Morgan hasn’t disputed the factual allegations, and that the allegations — if proved true — would be a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
“It just means that we’ll have to duke it out in court,” Morgan told The Olympian. “I’m not really too concerned about it.”
Morgan recently resigned from his seat on the Rochester School Board, stating that he accomplished what he wanted in that elected position, and that he didn’t want litigation stemming from his political advocacy to impact or be a distraction to the school district.
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Morgan managed the political groups Friends of Jimmy and We Want to Be Friends of Jimmy, Too, which campaigned against Olympia City Councilman Jim Cooper in his unsuccessful bid for Thurston County Commissioner District 1.
The PACs paid for a series of automated phone calls, and some of those calls went to cellphones, which was a violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, according to the complaint filed on Nov. 4.
Morgan said he used the same robocall service that other candidates have used. He said he plans to file lawsuits against other candidates, including Gov. Jay Inslee, “if they’re able to make it stick.”
The complaint also states that the defendants “manipulated the calls in an effort to mislead voters” into believing the Democratic Party was campaigning against its own candidates. It notes that the calls “spoofed” false call-back numbers that were associated with Cooper and the Democratic Party.
Morgan said he recently settled with the Washington State Democratic Party over a separate legal complaint that stemmed from the caller ID that was used in some of the robocalls.
“I just told them I wouldn’t do it again,” he said.
The plaintiffs in the Thurston County case are listed as Phyllis Farrell, chairwoman of the 2nd Legislative District Democrats, and Brandy Knight, the son of Ramtha channeler JZ Knight of Yelm. JZ Knight gave $54,000 to People For Thurston County, a PAC that campaigned in support of Cooper and Kelsey Hulse, the other Democrat that made an unsuccessful bid for the Board of County Commissioners.
Andrea McNeely, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said they’re trying to determine how many people were affected by the calls.
“I hope Mr. Morgan gets the message that this type of negative, misleading campaigning is illegal and must stop,” Farrell said in the law firm’s news release.