February 7, 2013 in City

Council members break email rules

Stuckart, Waldref apologize for campaign messages
By The Spokesman-Review
Jonathan Brunt photo

Signs regarding Spokane’s Proposition 2 are out in many parts of the city, including north of the Maple Street Bridge.
(Full-size photo)

• Questions about your ballot?

Read about the items under consideration in the Feb. 12 special election at spokesman.com/elections.

For more on this story, go online at spokesman.com/blogs/spincontrol

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 that included their opinions on the three proposed measures that will be decided by voters in the city’s Feb. 12 special election.

They say they sent the messages by accident from 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.

Anderson said that if anyone filed a formal complaint against them, the violation would likely be considered minor – if it was an isolated incident. Spokane Citizens for Responsible Government, the campaign in support of Proposition 2, which would require a supermajority to raise some taxes, highlighted the violation in a news release. And on Tuesday real estate agent Ken Garceau filed a complaint about the emails with the Spokane Ethics Commission.

“It’s just an interesting coincidence that they both happened to fail to not use their city email addresses,” said City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, Spokane Citizens for Responsible Government committee member.

Waldref said she used the online newsletter service MailChimp to send her newsletter on Jan. 31. She told City Council members in an email that she forgot to change the email address before sending the letter.

Stuckart said he discovered the problem soon after sending his newsletter on Sunday and informed city attorneys about the violation on Monday. He said he also has sent a message apologizing for the violation to the same people who received the newsletter.

The violation is just one of several allegations on both sides of Proposition 2, the most debated of the three items under consideration in the Feb. 12 special election in Spokane.

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