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Western Washington political activist alleges financial disclosure violations by Spokane Democrats

UPDATED: Fri., March 17, 2017, 9:49 p.m.

Glen Morgan, a Thurston County resident and political activist, has filed more than two dozen financial disclosure complaints, mostly against Democratic officeholders and candidates in Washington. This week, he alleged Spokane County Democrats failed to disclose thousands of dollars in salary payments to the party’s former chairman. (Glen Morgan)
Glen Morgan, a Thurston County resident and political activist, has filed more than two dozen financial disclosure complaints, mostly against Democratic officeholders and candidates in Washington. This week, he alleged Spokane County Democrats failed to disclose thousands of dollars in salary payments to the party’s former chairman. (Glen Morgan)

A Thurston County activist who has successfully challenged big-name Washington Democrats for their financial filings has set his sights on the Spokane County Democratic Party and its former chairman.

Glen Morgan, executive director of the group Citizens Alliance for Property Rights and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Thurston County office, alleges the party did not report significant contributions and expenses to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission in 2015 and 2016 in an effort to conceal salary payments to then-Chairman Jim CastroLang, who was also the organization’s executive director.

Through its current chairman, the Spokane County Democrats said they are conducting a full audit of their finances and called Morgan’s complaint “exaggerated and overblown.”

Morgan earlier brought campaign finance charges against Washington House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, prompting involvement by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office. Ferguson filed charges in Thurston County Superior Court against Chopp and his campaign, and the case was settled with a fine of $3,480 and attorney’s fees earlier this week.

The 12-page complaint filed against Spokane Democrats, which Morgan sent to The Spokesman-Review, alleges the party did not report $17,000 worth of salary paid to CastroLang last year as the organization’s executive director, and that several expenditure reports were filed up to six months after they were required by law.

“This has all the indications of significant bad behavior,” Morgan said.

CastroLang said he couldn’t comment on the allegations.

Andrew Biviano, who was elected the new chairman of the party this year, said in a written statement the organization was already coordinating with the Public Disclosure Commission to correct past bookkeeping errors and has brought on additional staff to meet reporting requirements.

“Our only goal is to ensure we are in full compliance, with full transparency,” Biviano said in the statement.

Internal financial records of the Democratic Party’s finances obtained by The Spokesman-Review show the party was logging CastroLang’s salary in their own software, but those amounts were not part of expense reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission until the end of October. Salary expenses have been reported since then.

Morgan has filed 26 complaints with the Public Disclosure Commission since the beginning of the year. None of those complaints was filed against Republican officeholders or organizations, but Morgan said his goal is reform of the system, not picking political targets.

“I don’t really care who’s violating the law. I think everybody is at this point,” Morgan said. “It’s entirely impossible to comply with the requirements.”

The allegations against the Spokane County Democratic Party are “just off-the-charts bad” compared to other complaints, Morgan said.

Morgan, who also held leadership positions with the conservative think tank Freedom Foundation, said he hadn’t looked into the financial reporting by Spokane County Republicans. His complaint includes attached minutes from the Democratic Party’s executive board, documents that are not available through public record requests.

Morgan declined to say where he’d obtained the minutes, saying he works with “whistleblowers” all over the state.

In his statement, Biviano said the party would not “address each and every allegation made by Mr. Morgan in the complaint, as these issues should be resolved by the PDC rather than in the media.”

Citizen complaints are evaluated by the commission’s executive director according to a procedure outlined in state law. The director determines if an investigation is necessary and whether to involve the attorney general.