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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Public Disclosure Commission

GMO labeling group faces legal action for campaign 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.

Opponents of Prop 2 miss finance deadlines

NOTE: This post was updated at 6:25 p.m. Feb. 6, 2013 to reflect that the Public Disclosure Commission provided the Spokane Firefighters Union with incorrect information about when it needed to file campaign spending reports.

Thanks to Proposition 2, Spokane’s special election on Feb. 12 is heating up.

Each side is accusing the other of stealing signs. One side is accusing the other of campaign reporting violations. The other is crying pettiness.

Accusations of sign stealing are hard to pin down and are so common that we don’t typically investigate them. Though there are notable exceptions.

We at Spin Control will make an attempt, however, to sort through the potential of campaign finance violations.

Stuckart, Waldref apologize for violations

Two Spokane City Council members have apologized for using their city email accounts to send campaign messages.

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref sent electronic newsletters to supporters recently that included their opinions on the three proposed measures that will be decided by voters in the city’s Feb. 12 special election.

The messages were sent via their city email accounts.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said government officials should not use government email accounts to promote or oppose items on a ballot.

Library campaign promises to fix reporting violations

Yes for Spokane Libraries, a group working on behalf of Proposition 3, a tax levy for the Spokane Public Library, has had signs supporting the tax displayed throughout the city for weeks, but hasn’t reported any contributions or expenses to the state Public Disclosure Commission. The group likely should have been filing reports weekly since the end of last month, according to state rules.

Nathan Smith, campaign manager of the group, said Wednesday that the group erred in interpreting the rules and would work quickly to file contribution and expenditure reports by the end of the week.

“It was our mistake,” Smith said. “We are diligently trying to get it done as soon as humanly possible.”

Complaint filed against flyers targetting McLaughlin

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Dozens if not hundreds of fliers left on cars and doorsteps against Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin’s campaign for state Senate could violate state disclosure law.

The black-and-white fliers that appear to be printed with a copy machine or computer printer criticize McLaughlin, a Republican, for her vote in support of revoking the alcohol impact area in the West Central neighborhood. One version of the flier said, “Nancy McLaughlin voted for fortified malt liquor sales over safe neighborhoods. We don’t need that kind of representation in Olympia.”

PDC: Inslee campaign followed rules

The state’s campaign watchdog on Monday rejected complaints about contributions and spending by Democrat Jay Inslee.

 Just days before Washington’s voter get their ballots in the mail and just over three weeks before the deadline to mail them back, the Public Disclosure Commission voted unanimously to reject a complaint against Inslee filed by McKenna’s campaign manager, Randy Pepple…

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Let’s get real and just sell space on the ballot

Washington voters are on track to have at least nine statewide measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, which would be a state record. While some applaud this as a triumph of direct democracy, it is, more accurately, a triumph of electoral capitalism.
Along with three referenda placed on the ballot by the Legislature, the six initiatives seemingly destined for the ballot are beneficiaries of substantial corporate sponsorship, which provided money to pay people who gather signatures on their petitions.
Relying on volunteers to gather signatures has become so 20th Century, although a seventh initiative, to legalize marijuana, might succeed if its supporters can stay motivated through July 2. Meanwhile the paid campaigns are booking dates to turn in petitions with a hundred thousand or more extra signatures.
Early contributions to some successful petition drives are so substantial it only makes sense to dispense with the alpha-numeric designations to initiatives and award naming rights…

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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