The Spokane Ethics Commission ruled quickly on Wednesday against a complaint filed against Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.
Rev. James CastroLang, who leads the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Colville, filed a complaint alleging that McLaughlin violated city ethics rules when her campaign took an image from the city’s Webpage or Facebook page and used it in a campaign mailer.
McLaughlin, a Republican, is running against state Rep. Andy Billig, a Democrat, for the state Senate seat now held by retiring state Sen. Lisa Brown. CastroLang, a Spokane resident who supports Billig’s campaign, said he acted independently of the Billig campaign. He argued in his complaint that McLaughlin used city resources for her personal gain.
The picture in question was one taken by city spokeswoman Marlene Feist when Mayor David Condon signed into law the current water rates with five council members in attendance.
Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo said the city considered the image in the public domain and not city property, at least not in relation to the ethics rules. State Public Disclosure Commisson spokeswoman Lori Anderson said state rules also don’t prohibit such use of photos in campaign literature.
The commission voted 6-0 with one abstention to rule against the complaint.
Afterward the meeting, CastroLang said he was simply seeking clarity on the rules.
McLaughlin said CastroLang appeared more interested in helping Billig than truly worried about her using a picture of bill signing in her campaign ad.
“I find it really intriguing that he would sacrifice me and my campaign for his own clarification issue,” she said.