March 24, 1998 in City

Agency Rules Donations To Locke Campaign Legal

Associated Press

Ten thousand dollars in campaign contributions to Gov. Gary Locke from members of a Buddhist temple were legal, the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency said Monday.

Concluding an investigation that began in October, the state Public Disclosure Commission staff said it found nothing illegal by Locke in accepting the money or by the contributors in giving it.

In a statement issued by his press office, Locke said he was pleased.

Based on news reports suggesting illegal contributions to Locke’s campaign, the PDC reviewed $10,000 in donations that Locke received from people associated with the Ling Sheng Ching Tze Temple in Redmond, which Locke visited three times in the summer of 1996.

The money included a $5,000 cash donation that the temple’s grandmaster, Lu Sheng-Yen, handed to Locke in a traditional Chinese red gift envelope after giving Locke a tour of the temple on July 11, 1996.

Locke said he didn’t peek inside the envelope until he got back to his campaign headquarters. When he discovered the envelope contained thousands of dollars, he said, he had the money immediately returned.

Under state law at the time, donations of more than $50 in cash were forbidden. And contributions from individual donors were limited to $1,100 in the primary election and another $1,100 in the general election. They were also required to be made in the form of a personal check or a cashier’s check.

Commission investigators said they determined that the $5,000 in cash came from five different people, including Sheng-Yen, but was delivered in the same envelope.

Once the money was returned by Locke, the contributors were asked that each person write a check for their contribution. The contributors wrote personal checks, which were then transmitted to the campaign, investigators said.

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