April 18, 2024 10:16 am

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Embattled Lynnwood Councilman to challenge Larsen for Congress

LYNNWOOD—According the Federal Election Commission filing on January 29, embattled Lynnwood Councilman Joshua Binda is intending to challenge Representative Rick Larsen (D) for the Second Congressional District. Binda will be running as a Democratic Party candidate, FEC filing shows.

Rick Larsen

Representative Larsen (WA-02) has been in Congress since 2001 and is the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He also sits on the following caucuses:

  • U.S.-China Working Group (Founder and Co-Chair)
  • Arctic Working Group (Founder and Co-Chair)
  • Estuary Caucus (Founder and Co-Chair)
  • Friends of New Zealand Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Friends of Norway Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Singapore Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Soccer Caucus (Co-Chair)

In 2022, Larsen won re-election with 60% of the vote against air-force veteran Republican Dan Matthews. Larsen recently secured a $3 million grant for the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center, $25 million for the Poplar Way Extension, $3 million Scriber Creek Trail, and tens of millions for local community projects throughout the district.

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Lynnwood Councilman Joshua Binda enjoying a lollipop during a City Council Business Meeting. SOURCE: Lynnwood Times.

Joshua Binda, who recently faced a failed recall attempt, will be officially announcing his candidacy at Edmonds College on Wednesday.

According to the PDC, as of January 30, 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.

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, 2023.

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.

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Snapshot of the controversial posting from Lynnwood City Councilman Joshua Binda 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 Joshua 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.

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Footage from city hall security tape showing Councilmember Binda (left) being filmed for his promo video for his private “Love Conquers All” speaking tour by the unidentified male (right) acting as cameraman. This initiated the ethics investigation by the council against Councilman Binda.

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).

Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Brief Enforcement Hearing regarding Josh Binda on July 6, 2023.

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.

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Lynnwood City Councilman Joshua Binda during his July 6, 2023, PDC hearing where he told the hearing officer he didn’t know how to write a check is the reason he wasn’t able to pay his fines. Snapshot from YouTube video of hearing.

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.

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.

The Primary Election will occur on August 6 and the General Election is scheduled for November 5, 2024. 

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