Industry lobby lands exacta at attorney-general's 'open' office

Legal News Line May 31, 2007, 8:00am

Greg Overstreet

OLYMPIA -- Only two people have held the post of Washington state's open-government ombudsman since its creation in 2005 by Attorney General Rob McKenna. And both outgoer Greg Overstreet and incomer Tim Ford have held legal jobs with powerful construction-sector lobbyist Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) before joining McKenna's office. McKenna recently announced that Ford, currently Deputy Solicitor General, had been promoted to the ombudsman's role, officially titled assistant attorney general for government accountability. He will start his new duties June 18. "Tim understands the needs of the public, news media and state and local governments in regards to complying with access laws," McKenna stated. "He embraces our belief that the public has a right to know how government is spending their tax dollars and exercising the powers given to them by Washington state residents." Ford joined the solicitor-general's office in 2005 and has specialized in litigation on ballot initiatives and referenda, McKenna's release stated. Prior to that he was legal counsel to the BIAW, specializing in public disclosure, constitutional rights and land use. The BIAW has been at loggerheads in the past with the state government over transparency issues like open records. The attorney general's original appointment to the open government post, Greg Overstreet, will depart June 15 to start a private law practice specializing in, of all things, open government. Overstreet, also a former BIAW attorney, will open his new Olympia practice June 29, the Seattle Times reported. Before joining McKenna in 2005 he was an Olympia-based attorney at Seattle corporate law firm Perkins Coie. Ford has prepared legal opinions, represented the state and served as legal counsel to Washington's secretary of state and lieutenant-governor during his brief tenure with McKenna.

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