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Madison-Andersen, Bunting Awards Honor Open Government Activists

The Washington Coalition for Open Government honored retired King County Superior Court Judge William Downing, watchdog journalist Eli Sanders of The Stranger and longtime WCOG executive director Elly Snow Walker as the 2019 recipients of the Coalition’s highest awards, presented September 20.

Judge Downing, a current member of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, received the James Madison Award for his long-term commitment to the cause of open government. Downing served as chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee for more than 16 years, mediating numerous disputes that balanced interests involving access to public records.

Walker, who for many years owned Seattle Operating Support LLC, was recognized for her care of the Coalition above and beyond its role as her client by receiving the James Andersen Award, given for advancing the efforts of WCOG.

Sanders received the Kenneth F. Bunting Award for his investigation into online campaign ads in light of Washington state’s regulations and disclosure laws. One result of his reporting of dozens of stories in The Stranger was lawsuits against Facebook and Google by the state Attorney General, and a $425,000 settlement for the companies’ failure to follow Washington access laws – and their decision to stop selling political ads in the state because of its tough disclosure rules.

The James Madison Award honors an individual or organization whose long-term commitment to the First Amendment and to open government has been shown through exemplary words or deeds. Named for one of the primary authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it is among the highest honors WCOG bestows to honor transparency advocates.

The James Andersen Award honors an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the work of the Washington Coalition for Open Government. It is named after James Andersen, retired chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court and a founding member of the coalition.

The Kenneth F. Bunting Award, named for the former Seattle P-I editor and longtime advocate for open government issues in several states, honors journalistic work. Nominees may have used Washington’s access laws to break stories, informed the public of these resources or exposed violations of the state’s transparency laws. It is designed to honor journalism that promotes transparency and openness at all levels of government.

Click below to see the 2019 Winners:

Judge William Downing
Former King County Superior Court Judge & Former
Chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee


For his long-term commitment to the cause of open government. Downing served as chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee for more than 16 years, mediating numerous disputes that balanced interests involving access to public records.

Elly Walker
former executive director, Washington Coalition for Open Government


Recognized for her care of the Coalition above and beyond its role as her client by receiving the James Andersen Award, given for advancing the efforts of WCOG. Anderson, a former chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, was a founding board member of the Coalition.

Eli Sanders
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, The Stranger


For his investigation into online campaign ads in light of Washington state’s regulations and disclosure laws. One result of his reporting of dozens of stories in The Stranger was lawsuits against Facebook and Google by the state Attorney General, and a $425,000 settlement for the companies’ failure to follow Washington access laws – and their decision to stop selling political ads in the state because of its tough disclosure rules.

 

Transparency and public participation are building blocks of good government.

The Coalition was formed to act as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated promoting and defending the People’s right to know in matters of public interest and in the conduct of the public’s business. The Coalition’s driving vision is to help foster open government processes, supervised by an informed and engaged citizenry, which is the cornerstone of democracy.

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