Bob Ferguson (politician)

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Bob Ferguson
Bob Ferguson 03 crop.jpg
18th Attorney General of Washington
Assumed office
January 16, 2013
Governor Jay Inslee
Preceded by Rob McKenna
Personal details
Born (1965-02-23) February 23, 1965 (age 51)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Colleen
Children 2
Alma mater University of Washington,

New York University
Website Campaign website

Robert Watson Ferguson (born February 23, 1965) is an elected official and attorney from the U.S. state of Washington, who serves as the 18th Attorney General of Washington. He was first elected on November 6, 2012, receiving 53.48% of the vote.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bob Ferguson is a fourth-generation Washingtonian. His great-grandparents homesteaded in the 19th century on the Skagit River, near what is now Marblemount.[2] Ferguson's family has deep roots in Everett, Washington. His grandparents started a family business, a meat market, in 1900.[3] After the death of his grandfather, Ferguson's grandmother, Edith Hausmann, operated the meat market while raising five young children during the Depression.[1] Ferguson's grandfather was a member of the first graduating class at Everett High School in 1910.[1]

Ferguson's late father, Murray Ferguson, was also born in Everett. Murray Ferguson worked as a Boeing facilities manager. Ferguson's mother, Betty (Hausmann) Ferguson taught special education in Seattle's Public Schools. Both are graduates of Everett High School.[1] Betty and Murray Ferguson had seven children, including Bob.[1]

Ferguson attended grade school at St. Anne's and graduated from Bishop Blanchet High School in 1983. He attended the University of Washington where his fellow students elected him Student Body President.[4]

After graduating from the University of Washington, Ferguson joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and directed an emergency services office for a year.[5]

Legal career[edit]

Ferguson went to law school at New York University.[6]

During law school, Ferguson received a grant to provide legal assistance to the Yaqui tribe in Guadalupe, Arizona. Ferguson lived in Guadalupe and assisted community members on a wide range of legal needs.[7]

After receiving his law degree from NYU, Ferguson began his legal career in Spokane, where he served as a law clerk for Chief Judge William Fremming Nielsen of the Federal District Court for Eastern Washington, who was appointed by George H. W. Bush.[6] He then clerked for Judge Myron Bright of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Midwest, who was appointed by Lyndon Johnson.[6]

After his clerkship, Ferguson returned to Seattle and joined Preston Gates & Ellis (now K&L Gates) as a litigator, where he represented individuals, businesses, local governments, and Washington corporations. As an attorney, Ferguson worked with the legal team that successfully defended taxpayers from paying for cost overruns associated with Safeco Field construction.[8] He was part of the legal team that successfully challenged the constitutionality of Tim Eyman's initiatives.[7]

Representing business, Ferguson worked on cases involving software piracy and successfully sued companies that stole intellectual property from Washington companies.[8] Ferguson also donated hundreds of hours of free legal advice to non-profit organizations. For example, he assisted Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Foundation as legal counsel to turn a six-acre garden into a public park in Shoreline.[7]

After four years at Preston Gates & Ellis, Ferguson decided to run for the King County Council.

King County Council[edit]


Ferguson was first elected to the Metropolitan King County Council in 2003 by defeating Cynthia Sullivan, a 20-year veteran of the Council. Ferguson managed to outpoll Sullivan by about 500 votes.[9][10] At the time, the council was elected on a partisan basis. He faced no general election opponent in the heavily Democratic district. During his campaign to unseat Sullivan, Ferguson knocked on 22,000 doors in the district.[11]

As a result of the council reduction, redistricting placed Ferguson in the same district as another Democratic County Councilmember, Carolyn Edmonds of Shoreline. Ferguson narrowly defeated Edmonds.[12] He went on to defeat Republican challenger Steven Pyeatt in the general election, winning approximately 74% of the vote.[13]


Before being elected Attorney General, Bob Ferguson served on the King County Council, where he represented Council District 1, which includes northeast Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, Kirkland, and part of Woodinville.[4]

During his time on the Council, Ferguson served as Chair of the Regional Policy and Law, Justice and Human Services Committees and twice chaired of the Council's Law and Justice Committee.[6] In 2005, he co-sponsored legislation to place a ballot measure before the voters of King County to generate revenue to improve health services for veterans and military personnel.[14] County residents approved the measure.[14] In 2011, King County voters renewed the Veterans and Human Services Levy.

When King County Executive’s office proposed spending $6.8 million for new furniture for the new County office building, Ferguson pushed the County to buy used furniture instead, saving taxpayers more than $1 million.[15]

Ferguson led the effort to raise $50 million annually to assist those suffering from mental illness and chemical dependency.[16] He received the Booth Gardner Mental Health Champion award from Sound Mental Health in 2011.[17] Ferguson successfully fought for $5 million to fund public health clinics in Northgate and Bothell that were threatened with closure.[18]

Ferguson served on the Youth Justice Coordinating Council on Gangs.[19] He pushed for civilian oversight of the King County Sheriff’s office. In 2006, he helped lead the effort to create permanent oversight in the King County Sheriff’s office.[18]

He sponsored the Open Space Preservation Act, which protects 100,000 acres of open space.[20] Ferguson authored legislation that prevents King County from doing business with companies known to repeatedly violate wage theft laws.[21]

In 2007, Ferguson co-sponsored legislation increasing the sales tax by one tenth of one percent in order to expand mental health, chemical dependency and therapeutic court programs to reduce costly and unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice system by mentally ill and chemically dependent individuals, and to save lives. The council approved the measure on a bipartisan vote.[22] In 2009, Ferguson co-sponsored bi-partisan legislation that called on the Executive to streamline the County's procurement process. Along with Republican Kathy Lambert, Bob co-sponsored legislation that eliminated 15 pages of paper forms required to contract with King County. (Ordinance 2010-0186)

Ferguson also worked to reform County government by connecting workers’ wages to the economy, leading the Seattle Times to write, “This is brand new, necessary stuff in a county that can ill afford the existing approach. These changes would not be possible without the hard work of Republican Kathy Lambert and Council Chairman Bob Ferguson…Ferguson is taking considerable heat from labor for sticking his neck out on policies that may be anathema to his constituents. Ferguson's work should inspire other Democrats on the council to join him in moving the county forward to the 21st century.”[23]

He co-sponsored legislation promoting the use of small businesses in fulfilling county contracts. (Ordinance 2007-0146). Ferguson co-sponsored legislation in 2011 creating a "Small Business Accelerator" program.[24] He declined to take a pay raise during tough economic times.[25] Ferguson also helped lead the effort for an independent audit of the county's election office.[26]

In 2010, Ferguson sponsored a ballot measure that would increase the sales tax to provide additional revenues to King County. Proposition No. 1 Sales and Use Tax. The measure failed 54.9% to 45.1%.[27] He wrote the law that reformed the county’s public records process to ensure that citizens can easily obtain records and monitor their government.[6]

In recognition for his work to preserve King County’s cultural heritage, Ferguson was presented with the Landmark Deeds Award for Public Service by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.[28]

The Center for Human Services selected Ferguson as the 2008 recipient of their annual Dorrit Pealy Award for Outstanding Community Service.[29] Food Lifeline gave Ferguson a Special Appreciation Award at its annual Ending Hunger Awards luncheon.[30]

In 2010, Ferguson was selected to join the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship, a program that brings together the nation’s most promising political leaders.[6]

Attorney General of Washington[edit]

On November 6, 2012, Bob Ferguson defeated fellow King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn to be elected as the 18th Attorney General of Washington State. Ferguson won by a margin of more than 200,000 votes, receiving 53.48% of the vote to Dunn’s 46.52%.[31]

Ferguson won despite an unprecedented amount being spent by an out-of-state group in Washington state Attorney General’s race.[32] The Republican State Leadership Committee, a group founded by Karl Rove, spent nearly $3 million in an effort to defeat Ferguson.[32] Ferguson was criticized during the campaign for not having prosecutorial experience.

During the course of the campaign, Ferguson visited all 39 Washington state counties.[33]

Arlene's Flowers lawsuit[edit]

Main article: Barronelle Stutzman

In April 2013 Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman and her Richland, Washington floral shop Arlene's Flowers in response to a complaint by Robert Ingersoll and his fiance Curt Freed.[34] Ferguson claimed that the business violated Washington's consumer protection law after Stutzman refused to provide flowers for the couple's same sex wedding.[35] The attorney general’s office sent a letter to Stutzman informing her that she was in violation of Washington State’s Consumer Protection Act. A letter by Ferguson called for a penalty of $2,000 Dollars and to celebrate all same sex unions. Stutzman sent back a reply that it was against her religious beliefs to do so. The attorney general’s office followed up with a phone call to Stutzman, giving her an opportunity to comply with the law, head off legal action, and avoid paying any fees or costs. Stutzman responded with a letter from her lawyer. The move was criticized by Stutzman's lawyer, who stated that Ferguson did not have the statutory authority to file the lawsuit and that it was uncertain whether or not it was a "clear case of discrimination".[36][37]

The couple had been previous clients of Stutzman for nine years until they had requested her services for their wedding, which she refused to do based upon her religious view on same sex marriage.[38] Stutzman has since filed a counter-suit, stating that Ferguson's lawsuit was an attempt to force her to violate her religious beliefs.[39] Stutzman and her attorneys also requested that the lawsuit be dismissed, as they alleged that the suit didn't show that the couple had received any financial injury to their business or property.[40] Judge Sal Mendoza Jr ruled that the lawsuit could continue, as the time and travel spent traveling to Arlene's Flowers and finding another florist did count as financial injury.[41] On February 18, 2015, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom ruled that she had violated the state's anti-discrimination law.[42] On February 19, 2015, Stutzman stated she would appeal the ruling.[43] On March 27, 2015 Judge Alexander Ekstrom ordered Ms. Stutzman to pay a $1,000 fine, plus $1 for court costs and fees.[44][45]

Personal life[edit]

Bob Ferguson is an enthusiastic mountain climber, backpacker, and birder, and has hiked hundreds of miles of Washington trails and climbed many of the state's highest peaks.[7] After college, Ferguson traveled around the country to see a baseball game in every major league stadium.[4]

Ferguson is an internationally rated chess master.[46] His games have appeared in local, national and international chess publications, and he has twice won the Washington State Chess Championship.[46] He and his wife Colleen live in Seattle's Maple Leaf neighborhood with their twins, Jack and Kate.[4]

Electoral history[edit]

Washington Attorney General Primary Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bob Ferguson 685,346 51.68
Republican Reagan Dunn 506,524 38.20
Republican Stephen Pidgeon 134,185 10.12
Washington Attorney General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bob Ferguson 1,564,443 53.48
Republican Reagan Dunn 1,361,010 46.52


  1. ^ a b c d e Jerry Cornfield, Tough issues await state’s new attorney general, HeraldNet (The Herald, Everett, Washington, US), 2012-11-23. Accessed online 2012-11-26.
  2. ^ Schrader, Jordan (February 14, 2011). "King County Councilman Bob Ferguson to run for attorney general". The News Tribune. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d Young, Bob (October 10, 2012). "Attorney general's race: Democrat Ferguson is striving and driving". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Bob Ferguson". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson to Run for State Attorney General". Bellevue News. February 14, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Biography". December 19, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Elect Bob Ferguson". The Herald Net. October 25, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ Ervin, Keith (2003-09-18). "Ferguson campaign impresses friends, foes". The Seattle Times. 
  10. ^ "2003 Primary Election results". King County. Archived from the original on 2003-09-19. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  11. ^ Ervin, Keith (September 20, 2003). "Sullivan concedes in council contest". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  12. ^ "2005 Primary Election results". King County. Archived from the original on 2005-10-01. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  13. ^ "2005 General Election results". King County. Archived from the original on 2005-11-25. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  14. ^ a b "Ferguson: Veterans Levy Continues To Provide Job Assistance, Housing And More". May 28, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  15. ^ Chan, Sharon Pian (July 5, 2006). "King County officials fight over furniture: new vs. used". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  16. ^ Ervin, Keith (November 27, 2006). "Mental illness dilemma for jail". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Sixth Annual Fundraiser Successful Thanks to Supporters, New and Current". Sound Mental Health. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Ervin, Keith (May 5, 2007). "Public-health clinics get reprieve". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Candidate Statement". Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  20. ^ Ferguson, Bob. "An opportunity to protect King County's open spaces". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Protecting workers from wage law violations". King County. April 23, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  22. ^ Ervin, Keith (2007-11-09). "County panel backs tax boost to improve mental health care". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  23. ^ "The King County Council should approve new labor polices". Seattle Times. July 13, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Legislation Detail". Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  25. ^ Ervin, Keith (July 13, 2010). "Constantine asks unions to share in wage freeze". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  26. ^ Roberts, Gregory (April 4, 2005). "King County election chief under fire". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  27. ^ King County Elections, retrieved 2010-11-20 
  28. ^ "King county councilmember Bob Ferguson". Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Center for Human Services Honors King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson". King County Council. March 11, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Food lifeline honors ending hunger award recipients at annual bag hunger luncheon and auction". King County Council. Sep 23, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  31. ^ "November 06, 2012 General Election Results". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  32. ^ a b Young, Bob (October 23, 2012). "National Democratic group strikes in AG's race". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  33. ^ Rosenthal, Brian M. (August 7, 2012). "AG hopeful Bob Ferguson: Primary a "dream start"". The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Arlene's Flowers in Richland sued by gay couple". Tri-City Herald. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  35. ^ "Washington State Sues Florist for Declining to Beautify Same-Sex 'Wedding'". North Carolina Register. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  36. ^ "State's case against florist fires up gay-marriage critics". Seattle Times. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  37. ^ "ACLU files lawsuit for gay couple denied service at Washington flower shop". OregonLive. April 18, 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  38. ^ Murphy, Kim (April 10, 2013). "Washington sues florist who said no to a same-sex wedding". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  39. ^ "Arlene's Flowers Controversy Continues". KAPP TV. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  40. ^ Schilling, Sara. "Richland florist asks judge to toss lawsuit". Yakima Herald. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  41. ^ "Lawsuit against Arlene's flowers allowed to go on". Tri-City Herald. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  42. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (February 20, 2015). "Washington florist rejects settlement offer after court rules she can't refuse service to gay weddings". Washington Post. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 
  43. ^ "Florist who refused to do flowers for gay wedding to appeal". Associated Press. February 19, 2015. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 
  44. ^ Nunnally, Derrick (March 27, 2015). "Judge Fines Washington Florist Over Same-Sex Wedding Flowers". ABC News. Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  45. ^ Smith, Samuel (March 30, 2015). "Christian Grandma-Florist Fined $1,001, Ordered to Work Gay Weddings but Refuses, Says She Won't Betray Jesus; State Threatens to Take Her Home, Business Away". Christian Post. Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  46. ^ a b "Chess geeks rally for Bob Ferguson". Seattle Times. March 29, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Rob McKenna
Attorney General of Washington