January 20, 1996 in City

Momentum Says Rules ‘Overlooked’

Lynda V. Mapes Staff writer

Momentum is one of Spokane’s largest business associations. And its president is Gordon E. Budke, managing partner of Coopers and Lybrand, one of the country’s biggest public accounting firms.

But when it comes to bookkeeping, Momentum needs a little work: the organization will plead no contest to a finding by the Public Disclosure Commission that it failed to report more than $300,000 in campaign contributions over the last several years.

The business group, with more than 550 members, has contributed $473,000 to local ballot initiative campaigns since 1987 and didn’t report a penny of it.

Janelle Fallan, executive director of Momentum, said the failure to report was an oversight. “We were not trying to hide anything. If we were we would not have made such large contributions.

“When you are a busy and active organization sometimes things get overlooked that should be taken care of. Sometimes things fall through the cracks.”

Momentum staff did not realize they were supposed to report the contributions to the PDC, Fallan said. “It was a misunderstanding.”

State law requires reporting of campaign contributions, and Momentum could be fined up to $2,500 for multiple violations of reporting laws.

“We know they take violations seriously, as do we,” Fallen said.

Since the problem was brought to Momentum’s attention in August, they have filed the necessary reports, Fallen said.

She will appear in a public hearing before the PDC Tuesday on the findings that Momentum reported the contributions late.

The organization has given major contributions to the city’s biggest ballot questions over the years, including $100,000 to local ballot propositions in the last year alone.

Momentum put $50,000 into the campaign to build a Pacific Science Center at Riverfront Park and $50,000 into We the People, the charter review ballot proposition.

Looking for better terms

First former House Speaker Tom Foley sued to get rid of congressional term limits, and won. Now state lawmakers are looking to loosen up term limits at the state level.

Rep. Marlin Appelwick, D-Seattle, wants state law to be changed to allow lawmakers to serve 12 years in either house of the Legislature.

Current law, passed by the voters in 1992, allows lawmakers to serve up to 14 years in the Legislature, but no more than six years in the House and eight in the Senate.

Under Appelwick’s proposal, lawmakers could spend their entire 12 years in office in one body.

Changing the law would require a constitutional amendment, no easy feat. It requires a vote of two-thirds of each chamber, and approval by the people in November.

If that doesn’t work, Appelwick says he’ll file a suit to challenge the law’s constitutionality. He figures he can risk it: his district is safe.

But maybe Foley thought so, too.

Roughing it in Olympia

For Sen. Jim West, R-Spokane, the West Side truly is the Wet Side. His camper leaks. In the roof. Right over his head. “Like Chinese water torture. Bink, bink, bink,” West said, striking his forehead with a finger.

Like many lawmakers, West crashes in a camper during the session to save money. Good strategy, unless it leaks.

Other lawmakers have had rough starts to this whirlwind, 60-day session, too. Latecomers like Rep. Duane Sommers, R-Spokane, find themselves learning how to drive at the Indy 500.

Sommers served in the Legislature before. But he’s still had quite a jump start this session, because he’s finishing out the second half of former Rep. Todd Mielke’s term.

He’s walking into the middle of bills and debates left over from last session, and has already cast votes on major legislation.

“It’s like walking on stage in the middle of a play. And I feel like I don’t know any of my lines.”

, DataTimes

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