In a Dec. 26 letter to the editor, “Lawsuits show political agenda,” the writer contends Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit against Value Village is for Ferguson’s benefit, as Value Village would have its “free-speech rights” violated were it to be forced to divulge how much of its revenue it donates to charity. The writer asks, “what other ‘for profit’ company does that?”
The issues surrounding how Savers, Inc., Value Village’s parent company, conducts its business have been in litigation in several states and under investigation in Washington state, where Savers, Inc. is headquartered, since at least 1987. For those keeping track, Ferguson became AG in 2013. After multiple “requests,” over many years, Savers, Inc., finally registered in this state as a “commercial fundraiser,” in 2014. As such, Savers, inc. is required by law to report how much of the revenue it raises for charity, and what percentage it keeps for itself. To this date, Savers, Inc. has refused to divulge this information. This is the basis of Ferguson’s action against them.
I, for one, appreciate the AG’s continued attention to the circumstance of a company which claims to be in the business of giving to charity but, apparently, gives very little. Minnesota’s legal action against them, and other investigations, have revealed that Savers, Inc. gives only between 8-17 percent of its revenue to charitable causes. For reference, Goodwill gives about 95 percent.
This is an incredibly complicated story, one that actually should be given more attention in the local media since it is happening in our own backyard. But the salient fact is, Value Village is not simply a “for profit” company. They continue to violate the law as long as they fail to reveal their practices as a “commercial fundraiser.” Bob Ferguson is only doing his job in attempting to ensure Savers, Inc., follows the law in the conduct of its business through an ongoing legal effort by state attorneys general beginning with Ken Eikenberry, a Republican, and including all other AGs until now.
Clearly, this has nothing to do with Donald Trump.