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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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October 26, 2007 3:12 PM

When did Rossi become a candidate?

Posted by David Postman

On Sept. 8, a former Dino Rossi campaign staffer registered the Web site, which the candidate made much of in his announcement speech Thursday.

Rossi campaign spokeswoman Jill Strait says the candidate did not ask Swanson to register the Web site that has become central to Rossi's campaign. She also said Swanson, who was on the Rossi payroll in 2004 and briefly in 2005, is not part of the campaign this time.

So what? Well, if that expense — and it doesn't matter how small — was done with Rossi's consent, then he would have had to register as a candidate more than a month ago. The law says someone becomes a candidate when he or she

(a) Receives contributions or makes expenditures or reserves space or facilities with intent to promote his or her candidacy for office;

(b) Announces publicly or files for office;

(c) Purchases commercial advertising space or broadcast time to promote his or her candidacy; or

(d) Gives his or her consent to another person to take on behalf of the individual any of the actions in (a) or (c) of this subsection

And once one of those things is triggered, a candidate has two weeks to file paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission and start reporting expenses and contributions.

It may not even matter what Swanson did. The question could be moot because Rossi did file a 2008 declaration of candidacy, back in 2005 when he was raising money to challenge his defeat to Christine Gregoire. But if Rossi says that's what covers him on this technicality, then what about his claim that he was not a candidate while promoting his non-profit Forward Washington? He submitted his resignation to that post Sept. 11.

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