Washington: Attorney billing information is now public

The Olympian reports on a legislative victory for pro-transparency forces in Washington.

There were 6 million reasons to pass House Bill 1897. That’s about how much it has cost Thurston County and its insurance carrier to defend county Prosecutor Ed Holm and his office against claims of sexual discrimination. Three former deputy prosecutors successfully sued the county and were awarded $1.52 million in damages and lost wages. But attorney fees and related trial costs have gobbled up an additional $4 million.

The Olympian’s quest for those attorney billing records was the genesis for HB 1897. The Olympian believes taxpayers have a right to see how their money is being spent and repeatedly asked county commissioners and their attorney, Michael A. Patterson, to fully disclose the financial records. The newspaper’s requests for public records were denied until Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, introduced his bill to clarify that – indeed – attorney billing information is a matter of public record.

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