City council member Josh Binda listens and eats a sucker during a city council meeting at Lynnwood City Hall in Lynnwood, Washington on Jan. 23, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

City council member Josh Binda listens and eats a sucker during a city council meeting at Lynnwood City Hall in Lynnwood, Washington on Jan. 23, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Binda criticism mounts over unapproved trip, shirtless photo, ‘excuses’

Lynnwood’s youngest council member went to a national conference despite being told not to — in the midst of other scandals.

LYNNWOOD — City Council member Josh Binda attended a national conference in Washington D.C. as a representative of Lynnwood, though city leadership denied his request to do so.

He’s now asking the city to reimburse him for the trip.

The news comes in the midst of numerous ongoing controversies surrounding Binda, who at age 21 became Lynnwood’s youngest council member in 2021.

In January, the Lynnwood Board of Ethics began investigating Binda when he allegedly used city resources for personal gain. Binda recorded a promotional video from the City Council dais after hours, using it to hype his speaking tour that has netted him over $14,000 from local schools.

In March, Binda made The New York Post when he posted a shirtless photo to promote his tour that caters to elementary, middle and high school kids. Captioned “to all the students I’ve inspired,” Binda stands at a side angle with one hand cupping his backside, flexing and giving a tough look into the camera. He has not deleted the photo.

During all of this, Binda has been posting questionable videos to his private TikTok account: speaking from the dais after hours, making jokes about council meetings and criticizing elder elected leaders. In one TikTok comment, Binda wrote, “once you can collect social security and retirement benefits, you shouldn’t be able to still run for office, I feel.” He also responded to a comment that suggested limiting the age of elected officials to 30 to 55, saying, “I agree we don’t need grandparents running our country.”

Screenshots from Josh Binda’s TikTok account.

Screenshots from Josh Binda’s TikTok account.

And on Monday, the City Council discussed the most recent news: Binda is requesting reimbursement for the Congressional City Conference hosted by the National League of Cities, when city officials had explicitly told him not to attend. Binda later claimed to have been one of the event’s keynote speakers — which was not true, according to Council President Shannon Sessions, who called the League of Cities to check.

Binda was absent from Monday’s council meeting. He could not be reached for comment.

“Council member Binda continues to think he’s above everyone else and that the rules the rest of this council and other elected officials have to follow don’t apply to him,” Sessions said at the meeting. “He’s very good at making excuses blaming others for his poor choices and deflecting.”

From March 26 to 28, Binda attended the conference where City Council members from around the nation gathered to hear speeches from leaders such as First Lady Jill Biden. Sessions said it’s a “huge privilege” to attend the event, and it takes months to properly plan.

According to Monday’s meeting, Binda requested to attend the event about a week before it started. Sessions denied his request for a few reasons.

First, fellow City Council member Julieta Altamirano-Crosby had already been approved to attend and represent Lynnwood months earlier. Flights, hotels and registration had been booked in advance at city expense.

“In addition, he was told no because we had to be sure he wasn’t again misappropriating city funds, because he has done so in the past,” Sessions said. “Not only with the blatant misuse of city resources with him filming for his private speaking engagements here in City Hall, but also his illegal use of city email.”

Public records show Binda used his city email to negotiate the contracts for his speaking tour. He was also fined $1,000 in January by the Public Disclosure Commission for violating campaign finance laws.

City officials only found out that he went to Washington, D.C. after seeing his posts on social media, Sessions said.

“As usual, council member Binda did what he wanted to do anyway,” Sessions said.

After the trip, Binda asked the city to cover the cost of his flight and registration fee. Registration alone would be between $855 and $1,060, according to the conference’s online brochure. Binda claimed he stayed with friends, so he didn’t need to pay for a hotel. He sent a screenshot of his flight reservation, but no itemized receipt, according to the council discussion.

“I mean, we’re talking about something that is very severe,” said council member Shirley Sutton.

Council members questioned what roles Binda fulfilled while at the conference. To properly represent the city, a council member must meet legislators, go to classes and create a report on the training, Sessions said. As of this week, the City Council had no record of who he spoke to, what classes he attended or how he represented the city.

Two days after the conference, Binda took to Instagram to post a photo on himself on stage at the conference wearing an off-white suit and holding a microphone. In the caption, he wrote “it was a complete honor to be a keynote speaker at the League of Cities Congressional conference in Washington D.C.” and that he looked forward to continuing his work in the community.

The post went out to his 4,500 followers and garnered about 800 likes. His account is public, verified and has a link to his official Lynnwood City Council page in the bio.

“We have confirmed through a National League of Cities senior specialist that council member Binda wasn’t a keynote speaker, like he’s reported,” Sessions said.

Binda did “briefly speak to some youth delegates,” Sessions said, quoting the specialist.

A committee to recall Binda has been filed with the Public Disclosure Commission. The group, led by Lynnwood resident and former City Council candidate Diodato Boucsieguez, cites the ethics investigation, campaign finance violations and “sexual marketing” for Love Conquers All as reasons for Binda to step down.

“Ironically, when asked to step down by community members recently, council member Binda announced he’s ‘not going anywhere’ and he’s going to continue to ‘show up’ and ‘do the work of the city’ — that’s all we’ve asked him to do,” Sessions said Tuesday. “We wish he would just be present, prepared, do the work and serve the city ethically.”

The City Council delayed a vote on whether to reimburse Binda until next week, so that Binda can have another chance to attend.

Kayla J. Dunn: 425-339-3449;; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.

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