April 18, 2024 10:16 am

The premier news source for Snohomish County

Recall effort fails to get signatures, Binda full steam ahead

LYNNWOOD—The Committee to Recall Joshua Binda announced that it failed to collect the 2,416 signatures needed by January 10, 2024, for the recall to qualify for the April ballot against the Lynnwood Councilman. Because the committee missed the deadline to collect enough signatures, the recall effort is officially dead.

“We thank the over 1,050 Lynnwood residents who signed the recall petition and our volunteer team of valiant signature gatherers,” the statement from Recall Joshua Binda spokesman Diodato Boucsieguez read. “They believed, as we do, that Lynnwood residents deserved to decide whether or not Josh Binda should be recalled based on verifiable evidence that Binda: 1) used his campaign funds for personal use like George Santos, 2) exploited his elected official status and used City resources for his personal gain and profit, and 3) knowing lied to the Lynnwood City Council and the Public about doing so.

“Although we did not reach the signature mark necessary to proceed, we are proud of all who bravely stood in the gap with us for our community. Together, we made it clear that acquiescence to political corruption is intolerable and residents will respond accordingly. We will return.”

The Lynnwood Times is awaiting a response from the Snohomish County NAACP on the failed recall attempt by the Committee to Recall Joshua Binda.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Marybeth Dingledy found sufficient reason to recall Lynnwood City Councilman Josh Binda for misfeasance, malfeasance, and violation of oath of office at a 9:30 a.m. hearing on Tuesday morning, June 27.

The court accepted four of five charges brought forth by the Recall Binda Committee — a grassroots, community-led, effort to recall the 23-year-old from public office following concerns he misused public facilities for personal gain, mishandled campaign funds, lied to council, and lacked a certain decorum the community believed was “inappropriate” after he posed shirtless to promote a speak tour to mostly minors.

Joshua Binda
Snapshot of the controversial posting from Lynnwood City Councilman Joshua Binda’s political campaign Instagram account on March 21, 2023, for which residents are requesting him to resign.
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Snapshot of the second controversial posting in question from Lynnwood City Councilman Joshua Binda political campaign Instagram account on March 21, 2023, for which residents are requesting him to resign. This picture is now no longer in the post which may constitute a violation of the Public Records Act.

Councilman Binda used city facilities to make a promotional video for his Love Conquers All Tour on December 19, 2022, in which he profited at least $14,000. Binda was accompanied by an unidentified male who was acting as a cameraman to take video in the lobby, before moving to the Lynnwood Council Chambers. Binda then gave the cameraman his City of Lynnwood ID badge so that the unidentified cameraman could go in and out of the building unaccompanied. Councilman Binda stayed in the council chambers while the cameraman went in and out, according to the city employee.

Lynnwood City Councilman Patrick Decker, on behalf of the City Council, filed an Ethics Complaint on January 25, 2023, alleging that Councilman Binda violated the City Ethics Code by using City property and email to conduct a personal business. Two counts of ethics violations were identified by an Ethics Attorney working for the City of Lynnwood and a settlement agreement was signed by the Councilman at Council’s Business Meeting on May, 8, 2023. One of the conditions of that settlement was to publicly admit guilt, however Binda argued that he simply was unaware he was committing any violations.

The second charge accepted by the judge Tuesday was Binda failing to file a required Personal Financial Affairs statement with the Public Disclosure Committee (PDC), within a timely manner, violating state law RCW 42.17A.700, in 2021 and in 2022.

The PDC found Councilman Binda guilty of two separate PDC violations and imposed a $1,000 fine at its public hearing Thursday, January 26, 2023. The violations included using campaign funds for personal use (RCW 42.17A.445 and WAC 390-16-238) related expenditures as well as submitting a Post-General election C4 report 280 days late (RCW 42.17.235 and .240).

The third charge accepted by the judge was Binda violating state laws RCW 42.17A.235 and RCW 42.17A.240 by failing to timely file a Post-General Election Summary Full Campaign Contribution and Expenditure report disclosing contributions and expenditure activities undertaken during his 2021 campaign. Between November 2021 and April 2023 Binda improperly used $2,742.49 in campaign funds for non-campaign related expenditures in violation of RCW 42.17A.445.

Back in November the Lynnwood Times obtained PDC files exhibiting Binda recorded almost $4,848.19 in expenditures towards rent, towing fees, concert tickets, jewelry, laptops, airfare, groceries, dental work, haircuts, and office furniture. Another expense, totaling $1,563.58 was paid to Versace (an Italian luxury fashion company).

In addition to the thousands in suspicious expenses, another $4,952.12 was recorded as “Expenses of $50 or less.” This would equate to at least 100 expenses of $50 or less to which Glen Morgan told the Lynnwood Times, “Is an odd amount.” However, Binda later assured the Lynnwood Times these expenses were campaign-related although no proof of his claim was provided. Out of these transactions the PDC, following their lengthy investigation, found at least eight of them to be for personal use and not campaign related.

The PDC offered a $500 waiver to the $1,000 fine under the condition that Binda remains clear of any additional violations and pays the amount due in a timely manner – typically within a four-year period which would last until the next election cycle. However, when Binda failed to pay this fine the full amount of $1,000 was reinstated. As of June 27, 2023, Councilman Binda has yet to pay this fine, nor his fine of $250 for filing a F1 report late, with the PDC — a total of $1,250.

The fourth and final charge accepted by the judge was that Binda knowingly lied to the Lynnwood City Council and the public by stating his private business contracts for speaking tours and appearances had been signed prior to December 2022.

Lastly, a fifth charge brought to court by the Recall Binda Committee argued that Binda was observed sleeping during multiple City Council meetings in 2022 and has been absent from multiple meetings due to out of state speaking activities benefitting his private business while interfering with the performance of his official duties. However, the court dismissed this charge due to lack of supporting evidence.

According to the PDC, as of January 11, 2024, Councilman Binda has $1,363 in outstanding penalties for the following violations which are now in collections:

  • $300 from May 3, 2023, for failure to timely file the CY 2022 Personal Financial Affairs Statement (F-1 report) due no later than April 17, 2023.
  • $63 of $250 from July 18 ,2023, for failure to timely file annually required Personal Financial Affairs Statement (F-1 report) for CY2021 (GE22).
  • $1000 from November 1, 2021, for failing to timely & accurately report & describe expenditures on C-4 reports; and by expending campaign funds for activities not directly related to candidacy.

Many Lynnwood City Council members expressed that they have attempted to mentor Binda including Dr. Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, Shannon Sessions, and George Hurst. State Senator John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), who endorsed Binda’s campaign, also shared that he attempted to mentor Binda several times but “it became increasingly clear that he [Binda] wasn’t going to listen,” he said. Lovick called for Binda’s resignation.

NAACP allegations of discrimination

The Snohomish County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) released their initial findings of its ongoing investigation of alleged discrimination toward Lynnwood City Councilman Joshua Binda on Thursday, July 20, in front of Lynnwood City Hall.

In its findings, the organization alleged that fellow Lynnwood City Council President Shannon Sessions targeted Binda discriminatorily and several media outlets published false information about the 23-year-old city council member. Their evidence was allegedly gathered using public records requests, internet searches, and interviews. NAACP just received a second installation of public records it plans to review.

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Dr. Janice Greene, President of the NAACP Snohomish County chapter, delivering opening remarks at the NAACP Snohomish County presser at Lynnwood City Hall on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Furthermore, the NAACP alleges that media outlets had been “fed misinformation” and some had “published misinformation.” These allegations refer to an email exchange between Councilwoman Sessions and a local newspaper on March 28 in which Sessions stated Binda had not been approved for travel to the National League of Conferences in Washington, D.C.

During the City Council meeting on April 10, City Attorney Marshall shared that Councilman Binda never contacted her regarding any travel to Washington D.C. for the NLC conference. Binda said that he “attended on his own merit” because, as the conference was a week away, he felt there wasn’t enough time for the attorney to respond to his questions.

It was later discovered by city staff that all councilmembers have a $2,500 budget for city-related travel and functions for which Binda was later reimbursed from this fund.

NAACP’s allegations involving published “misinformation,” references to an opinion piece authored by Jason Rantz, two “Letters to the Editor” not authored by, but published by, the Lynnwood Times, and two separate issues of the Lynnwood Times – the first covering a Lynnwood City Council meeting on April 10, when Councilman Binda requested reimbursement for his D.C. trip, and another covering an Ethics Attorney finding sufficiency, on two counts, concerning the councilman using public facilities for personal monetary gain.

The NAACP did not mention the Letter to the Editor the Lynnwood Times published in defense of Binda. It should be noted that, as with any publication, editorials and letters to the editor are opinion pieces that in no way reflect the views of a publication. The NAACP also did not mention other publications in its evidence handout that reported on the same topics and similar content.

Josh Binda Breaking Barrier Book Tour

Councilman, motivational speaker, and now author, Joshua Binda,24, kicked off his “Breaking Barriers” book tour at local schools throughout the area.

binda recall
SOURCE: Joshua Binda Facebook Page

“Coming into 2024 after publishing my first book, I wanted to be very intentional about continuing using my platform and to pour into the next generation,” Binda wrote in a Facebook post announcing his book tour. “My goal is to continue to inspire change and leadership and to help continue to break barriers to push things forward! (There will also be more schools added as we go).”

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