Tag: campaign finance


State Campaign Finance Investigators Recommend Dismissal of Complaint Against Conservative Group

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission investigation staff today recommended dismissal of a complaint lodged by the State Democratic Party against Americans for Prosperity Washington relating to mailings the organization sent out in 2010. Although the PDC has yet to officially act upon its recommendation, but that action to put an end to the year-long inquiry could happen soon, perhaps after the commission hears the results of the investigation at their Dec. 8th meeting.

The decision comes as welcome news to current AFPW Chairperson Nansen Malin.

“AFP has always maintained that this was a frivolous complaint,” Malin told NW Daily Marker by email this afternoon. “I am pleased with the recommendation.”

The reaction from State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz was considerably less exuberant:

“It is a travesty that the PDC staff took over a year to assess whether the unethical, behind-closed doors actions of the Koch Brother’s backed AFP-WA violated state law. AFP-WA was given a free-pass to influence the 2010 election cycle without a word from the state agency that is supposed to serve as our campaign finance watch-dog.

“Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and countless other right-wing organizations are planning to pour hundreds of millions in shady money into the 2012 election cycle. The PDC staff has just issued a road map as to how they can funnel their dirty politics into Washington State.”

The recommendation to dismiss turned on two key questions. First, did the activities of AFPW conform to the state’s legal definition of a political committee; second, were the mailers sent by AFPW in 2010 political independent expenditures or electioneering and therefore subject to limitations and disclosure requirements. The PDC’s report clearly answers each question: No and no.

The PDC determined that although AFPW did target Democratic candidates with their mailings, the content of the pieces did not solicit recipients to vote one way or another, but instead offered a general negative criticism of how each candidate had voted in the past, there was no call to action that could be called political advertising. The report finds that AFPW engaged in “issue advocacy,” and as such cannot be subject to government regulation.

You can read the entire PDC report here.


[photo credit: dan taylor]


Inslee Refunds $32,000 in Overlimit Campaign Donations

Congressman and candidate for Washington State governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) has refunded more than $32,000 in contributions from his gubernatorial campaign account, according to the Associated Press.

Two weeks ago, NW Daily Marker was the first to report that several donors to Inslee’s campaign had given more than the maximum amount allowed during an election cycle. The overlimit donations were caused when Inslee rolled over funds from his congressional campaign fund. The most recent interpretation of campaign finance laws by the State Public Disclosure Commission determined that Inslee had to count previous donations against limits in the current 2012 cycle.

The refunds amount to a very small percentage of Inslee’s campaign account and he is still left with nearly $1.3 million cash on hand compared to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna’s roughly $900,000.


[photo credit: stevendepolo]


Inslee Discloses Details of Disputed $200K Transfer from Fed Account, Several Donors Over the Max

On Friday, congressman and Democratic candidate for governor Jay Inslee disclosed the details of a near-$200,000 rollover from his federal campaign fund, a transaction completed at the end of June. The Republican candidate in the race, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, called the transfer into question on several grounds, precipitating a partial reversal of the Public Disclosure Commission’s earlier signal of thumbs-up to Inslee. In late July, the Public Disclosure Commission determined that the transfer was permissible, but that individual donors would need to be identified and their contributions would have to be counted against limits in this election cycle. The PDC also implied that donors should consent to having their contributions rolled over.

Finally, a month after the PDC required the Inslee campaign to submit the itemized account of names and amounts, the list was dumped on the election finance watchdog the day before a lazy Labor Day holiday weekend. But based on NW Daily Marker’s analysis, though Inslee has edged closer to fixing errors in the reporting his campaign finances, it now appears that he has taken several thousand dollars in campaign contributions above legal limits.

A list of ten individual contributors in the PDC database are shown to have contributed more than the $1,600 allowed for each election (primary and general) to Inslee’s gubernatorial campaign fund. Three donors have exceeded the limit for both elections. The total amount of contributions over the maximum is $12,500, perhaps small compared to the total amount in Inslee’s campaign coffers but where dollars are concerned, zero-error tolerance is a universal standard.

Inslee spokesperson Jaime Smith implied to The Seattle Times on Friday that they were aware infractions may have occurred, but were not sure what the exact numbers were:

Spokeswoman Jaime Smith said some donors had rolled over their federal money and given on top of that. She said the campaign would be disclosing some refunds next week, but she didn’t have a final number available.

Inslee’s amended C3 cash receipt report also changed the amount of small donations (those under $25) received on a single day – June 27th – from $388 to $2,523.


[photo credit: flickr]


McKenna Raises $150K More Than Inslee in June

The books are closed on June 2011 in the Washington State Governor’s race and according to filings with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, Republican candidate Rob McKenna raised slightly more than $154,000 in the first official month of the campaign than Democrat Jay Inslee.

The total amount raised by McKenna last month was $667,290 compared to Inslee’s $513,000, though McKenna spent $189,767 to bring the two campaigns nearly even in their cash-on-hand at the end of the period. The cash box at Inslee for Washington, however, has $53,000 in I.O.U.’s; McKenna’s campaign is currently debt-free.

According to a press release issued Monday night from the McKenna campaign, $25,591 of their June donations came from donors volunteering to re-allocate monies already given to his attorney general’s re-election campaign fund. McKenna feels that the size of the haul and where the donations are coming from are signs his campaign is generating broad enthusiasm among Washington voters.

“Not only did previous supporters step up to give our campaign a real boost, but the large number of new donors show that citizens want a New Direction for Washington State,” McKenna  said in yesterday’s release.

Inslee started passing the hat more than week before his official June 24th announcement, taking early donations a few days after Gov. Chris Gregoire formally declined to run for a third term.

Who were the donors queued up to make the earliest donations christening each campaign?

Roberta Riley, general counsel of Planned Parenthood of Western Washington is a charter member in Inslee for Washington, giving a combined $3,200 in personal and group contributions. Dunn PAC gave $1,000 to Team McKenna on his first day of receiving.



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