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March 19, 2007

PDC says King County Republicans violated campaign laws

Posted by David Postman at 9:18 AM

The staff of the Public Disclosure Commission has found a long list of campaign violations by the King county Republican Central Committee. A staff report says enough problems were found that the commission should forward the case to Attorney General Rob McKenna. The PDC is limited in the total amounts of fines it can levy in the case to $4,200. The PDC's assistant director, Doug Ellis, told me this morning:

"We believe the seriousness of what we found should preclude having a penalty of only that amount."

The King County Republicans filed numerous reports late; in one campaign account 74 percent of contributions and 70 percent of expenditures were filed late in 2006. And some came in 268 days late. Reports that were filed were incomplete. The PDC staff investigation found that the party failed to list employer and occupation information for 91 percent of donors required to submit that information. That information was filed last week.

The investigation was begun after a citizen's complaint from attorney Richard Pope, a frequent commenter on local blogs and a pretty dedicated investigator in his own right. His original complaint to McKenna is a thorough piece of work. (Pope, by the way, was also responsible for last week's find that former Congressman Rick White had his license to practice law suspended -- and is now in inactive status -- for failing to pay bar association dues. I first saw that in a comment Pope posted at

It would have behooved King County Republicans to take his complaint more seriously. The PDC's investigation found:

On August 23, 2006, Richard Pope, the complainant, sent an e-mail to Michael Young, KCRCC Chairman, and Geoffrey Tamman, informing both of the committee's reporting problems. Mr. Tamman responded that same day to Mr. Pope and Mr. Young, saying he was no longer the official treasurer, having resigned in February 2006, but acknowledging that he was assisting in the process of getting the office assistant trained. He also assured Mr. Pope that he and the KRCC were taking this matter very seriously.

But when asked by PDC investigators about the problems, Young "stated that they came aware of the reporting problems during 'the last filing period of the 2006 election cycle.'" When the Pope e-mail was brought up, "KCRCC acknowledged this communication. However, at the time, they believed their treasurer, Geoffrey Tamman, was handling the situation."

Young told investigators the party's reporting problems were due to "difficulty transitioning to ORCA (the PDC's campaign reporting software), office staff turnover, and the treasurer's (Geoffrey Tamman) busy travel schedule."

The commission meets in Olympia Thursday. If a majority of commissioners agree with the staff recommendation, the case will be referred to McKenna. Here's what Ellis says happens next:

"They would look at the investigative report, determine if they need additional information prior to filing with the Superior Court and they could also began negotiations with the Respondent to determine if a settlement could be reached without formal charges being filed. The timing of such activity would be up to the Attorney General's Office."

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