Meet the McKinneys

As reported in this March 2017 expose by Sandy Robson, the Whatcom Tea Party changed its name to Common Threads Northwest. That marketing move mirrors the November 2017 deceptive campaign mailer sent out by Whatcom Republican candidates claiming to be non-partisan.

In the March story, Robson reveals two new players in Whatcom politics–the husband and wife team of James and Laura McKinney–who assumed key positions in the Anti-Indian, Tea Party network: James as Executive Director of Common Threads Northwest, and Laura as Director of Operations and Communications for the Whatcom Business Alliance–an advocacy organization in support of fossil fuel export at Cherry Point.

James McKinney is known for comparing environmentalists to communists. Laura was elected to the Blaine School Board in November 2017.

This is how the Tea Party became a powerhouse. They run candidates for school board, which makes their name familiar, then run them for state and county offices.
It’s an apprenticeship program, that trains Christian Right candidates to avoid exposure.
Allied with real estate developers–that spend a lot of advertising money in local media–they essentially get a free ride for their racism.

White Power

To illustrate the horizontal integration of the Anti-Indian Movement, Chet Dow, secretary/treasurer of the Whatcom chapter of Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, is also a board member of the Northwest Business Club–a Whatcom Republican Party affiliate–and is listed as an officer on the PDC registration for the Anti-Indian PACs, SaveWhatcom and WhatcomFirst. As noted in A Tea Party by Any Other Name, Dow is a director of Common Threads Northwest, the successor to the Whatcom Tea Party, which spawned these PACs.

Additionally, Dow was an executive board member of the Whatcom Republican party. As a Whatcom County Charter Review Commissioner in 2015, Dow demonized environmentalists for opposing the Gateway Pacific coal export proposal. As noted by Sandy Robson, in 2013, the Gateway Pacific coal export consortium contributed $149,000 to the Anti-Indian PACs.

The timeline White Power on the Salish Sea puts Dow’s abhorrent conduct in context.

The Struggle

The Friday Harbor Film Festival features Dolores, the award-winning documentary about Dolores Huerta–famed Chicana human rights activist and labor organizer. As co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Huerta–who will attend the festival–was the less-known partner of Cesar Chavez, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Imagine your personal property–inherited from your ancestors–is acknowledged by the highest court in the land as belonging to you and your kin, and hordes of strangers move in and take it. That might tend to be upsetting, especially if you and your ancestors repeatedly–over the course of two centuries–attempted to resolve things amicably.

Water is one of those belongings of the Coast Salish and other indigenous peoples. It sustains all life.

With the theft of water by real estate developers, the life of the native salmon and the life-ways of the indigenous people who depend on them is stolen. As Jamestown S’Klallam tribal chairman Ron Allen remarks,

From our perspective, the conversation here is about how we can implement responsible stewardship over water resources to the benefit of everyone.

Shutting Down Fish Farms

Why would state agencies charged with overseeing fisheries and the environment ever have allowed Atlantic salmon fish farms to exist in Washington?  The short answer is corruption. Fish farm owners are large corporations, and permitting invasive species like Atlantic salmon to spread their diseases in the Salish Sea was the result of lobbying.

Why anyone would want to eat these mushy fish–full of antibiotics–is a mystery, but as the Chinese learned, the routine misuse of antibiotics (especially in factory-produced meat and seafood) has lethal impacts on public health. With antibiotic resistant bacteria now creating epidemics in Russia, shutting down fish farms in the US makes sense.