One of the closest state Senate races in Washington state is taking place in Vancouver, where Donald Trump-supporting Republican Rep. Lynda Wilson is running for the open seat against former Rep. Tim Probst, an Independent Democrat. Wilson beat Probst by a mere 50 votes in the August primary, setting up a hard-fought race in November. Wilson and her family are pulling out all the stops to win, including crossing legal and campaign finance lines.
An analysis of campaign finance records by Fuse shows that Lynda Wilson's husband Tracy and his brother Randall used a series of businesses they control to funnel multiple $1,900 contributions to her campaign. Four of these contributions came on the same day that Tracy and Randall - who usually goes by Randy - personally made maximum contributions to her campaign. Not satisfied, Tracy and Randy made another max donation one week later through a company they control. As if the connections weren't clear enough, three of the corporations list the same mailing address as Wilson's campaign. It's audacious, and possibly illegal.
A Sketchy Network of Family Businesses
Lynda's husband Tracy Wilson is closely connected to a messy web of businesses in Southwest Washington under the DeWils Industries mantel. According to The Columbian, DeWils Industries has "more than $25 million in annual sales and about 130 employees." Tracy runs many of these inconspicuously named businesses in conjunction with Lynda's brother-in-law, Randy.
- DeWils Industries Inc.: Tracy is the Director, President, and Treasurer; Randy is the Director, Vice President, and Secretary
- DeWils Interiors, Inc.: Tracy is Vice President, Randal is the governing Secretary
- DeWils Industrial Park, LLC: Tracy and Randy are the two Governing Members
- Hudson Bay Industries: Randy is President and Secretary, Tracy is Vice President and Treasurer
- 1-10-12 Plaza Inc.: Tracy and Randy are Governing Members
On March 31, 2016, Tracy and Randy each donated $1,900 personally to Lynda's campaign, just short of than the $2,000 maximum. On the same day, four of Tracy and Randy's businesses also made $1,900 contributions: DeWils Interiors, DeWils Industries Park, 1-10-12 Plaza, and Hudson Bay Industries. Not content with funneling a mere 6 maximum contributions to Lynda's campaign, one week later Tracy and Randy used a fifth business, DeWils Industries, to make another $1,900 donation.
In total, Tracy and Randy donated $13,300 to Lynda's campaign in the span of one week.
All Using One P.O Box
Tracy and Randy likely sent their seven checks to Lynda's official campaign mailing address: PO Box 820568, Vancouver, WA 98682. These would have been easy letters to address, because three of Tracy and Randy's businesses writing the checks list the same PO Box as her campaign address in their registration with the State of Washington.
It's true. Dewils Industries Park, 1-10-12 Plaza Inc, and Hudson Bay Industries all list the same PO Box 820568 in their official registration. They could have saved money on postage by just leaving the checks in the PO Box for Lynda before mail pick up, but they clearly have plenty of money to throw around.
A Family Affair
The Wilson family appears to be participating in a money funneling scheme that would make the Sopranos proud. On March 31, the same day Tracy and Randy made their first set of donations, Lynda also received a $500 donation from Tracy and Randy's father, Duane Wilson. Duane was a fixture in the community who helped found both DeWils Industries and DeWils Interiors while enjoying golf and cigars in his free time. How do we know all this about him? Unfortunately, Duane passed away on March 7, 24 days before making a contribution to Lynda's campaign. Maybe he left it behind in his will? Regardless, it looks highly suspicious that a deceased family member of Lynda Wilson donated to her campaign.
Lynda and Tracy Wilson modeling their Rolex watches for Watchtime magazine (we're serious).
Back for More
Wilson's family didn't come up with this scheme overnight. In fact, it appears that they ran much of the same program to funnel contributions to her previous campaign for state House in 2014. The same five companies - DeWils Industrial Park, DeWils industries, DeWils Interiors, 1-10-12 Plaza, and Hudson Bay Industries - all donated $1,850 or $1,900 to her in 2014, in addition to Randy and Tracy's personal contributions. The companies spaced out their contributions over a series of months in 2014, unlike this year when Randy and Tracy coordinated them all on the same day. They say practice makes perfect, and the fishy contributions made in 2014 helped refine their technique for Lynda's Senate run.
We expect ethical leadership for those we elect to represent us, and that starts with following campaign finance laws. Lynda Wilson's family business scheme to funnel cash to her campaign clearly violates the spirit of our state's strong campaign finance limits and may be illegal. We urge the Public Disclosure commission to review Wilson's campaign and her family members' businesses for wrongdoing. More importantly, Rep. Lynda Wilson owes a full explanation to the voters of the 17th District for her actions and those of her family members, including her deceased father-in-law.