Posts tagged: PDC violations
OLYMPIA — The attorney general will investigate possible legal action against an Iowa group that spent nearly $300,000 on last year's food labeling initiative but didn't report its donors until after the election.
The state Public Disclosure Commission referred a case against Food Democracy Action to the attorney general's office for possible legal action after members said the PDC doesn't have the authority to issue a stiff enough fine. The commission is limited to a fine of $10,000.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson is already suing Grocery Manufacturers Association, a group opposed to the initiative, for failing to follow state campaign disclosure laws.
Food Democracy Action, described by its attorney Greg Wong as a small non-profit based in Iowa, began raising money in July to support Initiative 522, a measure that would require most processed foods in Washington that contain genetically modified foods to note that on their label. Eventually it formed a political action committee for Washington and over the next five months, it spent more than $295,000 to support I-522.
But it didn't register with the PDC until Oct. 25, and didn't file its first lists of contributors until Nov. 22, some two weeks after the election. Its expenditure reports weren't filed until Jan. 15. It faces multiple violations of failing to meet deadlines for reporting contributions and expenditures from July through January.
The group has limited staff and no experience with Washington election laws, Wong said. The yes campaign for I-522 spent some $8 million, and Food Democracy Action's contributions were a small percentage of that, he added.
But the contributions still amount to “very large dollars,” commission attorney Linda Dalton said before commissioners voted unanimously to send the complaint to the attorney general.
A Democratic political strategist active in shadowy independent ads in a Spokane legislative campaign faces court sanctions for campaign violations in an Everett primary race.
Lisa MacLean’s tactics to hide who was contributing to efforts to sway the 38th District state Senate primary were so “reprehensible” that election may have to be overturned, the Public Disclosure Commission said Thursday. It voted 3-0 to refer the case to Attorney General Rob McKenna.
MacLean and her firm Moxie Media have set up a series of political committees this year to funnel money from unions, abortion rights groups and trial lawyers into hard-to-track independent campaigns all over the state, including two committees that attacked GOP challenger Mike Baumgartner this month.
Read more inside the blog….
OLYMPIA — The state Public Disclosure Commission voted today to ask Attorney General Rob McKenna to seek civil penalties prosecute a liberal political strategist for concealing the sources of money that helped defeat a Democratic incumbent in the August primary. The violations are so severe, the board said, the primary could be overtuned and the election redone.
The PDC voted 3-0 to reject an offered settlement of $30,000 from Lisa MacLean for disclosure violations in the campaign against state Sen. Jean Berkey of Everett. MacLean helped set up political action committees that concealed that labor unions were helping to fund a Republican challenger as well as a Democratic opponent to Berkey in the primary.
MacLean’s firm, Moxie Media, helped set up Progress PAC and Stand Up For Citizens PAC, which collected money from labor unions to support Democrat Nick Harper over Berkey, whom the unions opposed because of votes against key legislation in the last session. Moxie also set up two other groups, Conservative PAC and Cut Taxes PAC, which sponsored mailer ads and robocalls in support of Republican Rod Rieger. Pre-election reports didn’t disclose the source of the money for the pro-Rieger ads.
Harper finished first in the election and Rieger finished second, 124 votes ahead of Berkey.
A PDC investigation showed MacLean deliberately obscured the source of the money for the independent campaign helping Rieger. Contributions that should have been revealed before the election weren’t disclosed until almost a month after the election. MacLean kept her name off the ads, also, using the name of another member of the firm “because he has a lower profile,” the PDC staff reported. She created secondary PACs to move money around, and told donors it was unlikely they’d be linked to it before the election.
MacLean was willing to settle the complaint for $30,000 but the PDC board said the violations were, in the words of Commissioner Jane Noland “reprehensible.” They turned the case over to the attorney general under a statute that allows for a court to overturn an election if it finds violations by political committees may have effected the outcome. It also allows for fines of $10,000 for each violation of state campaign laws, and treble punitive damages if a judge determines they were intentional.
So why should readers in Spokane care about all this? Because MacLean and her company, Moxie Media, have been busy in the 6th District Senate race, too. More on that later, and in Friday’s Spokesman-Review.