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Thursday, November 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Johnson denies disclosure allegations

Mary Lou Johnson said she's complying with state laws regarding campaign finance disclosure after a complaint was filed targeting a recent television ad and mailings.

Michael Cathcart, government affairs director at the Spokane Home Builders Association, sent a copy of his complaint to the Spokesman-Review last week. The Association has donated $900 to and endorsed Al French, the incumbent Republican and former real estate broker.

The complaint, which Johnson said she had not seen Monday, alleges the Democrat violated the rules of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission by not including a spoken statement of her party affiliation in a recent television ad. A guide to political advertising sent out by the disclosure commission in July states candidates should "clearly speak the sponsor’s name and any party preference" in broadcast advertisements. A similar complaint was lodged by backers of incumbent state Sen. Michael Baumgartner against his opponent, Rich Cowan, last week, prompting both Johnson and Cowan to say they'd be adding audio to address the issue in their ads.

Cathcart also alleges Johnson has failed to report the expenses of filming that ad, the amount she's paid to have it aired and the expenses tied to a mailer that began arriving in the county last week. The most recent due date for expense reports was Tuesday, when candidates were required to disclose all expenses and contributions since Oct. 13.

Johnson said the campaign ad was an in-kind contribution, for which she received a receipt Oct. 14. She wrote a check for the mailer postage costs the next day, then the costs of printing the mailers on Thursday, she said.

"We've been really, really careful," Johnson said.

Cathcart said via email he had not spoken with French about the complaint, but had informed his campaign manager.

French has reported TV and radio ad buys totaling more than $23,000, running from now through Election Day. He's also spent more than $2,600 on print advertisements, including in the Spokesman-Review, according to public disclosure reports.

The next reporting date is Oct. 28, just seven days before the general election. French defeated Johnson by fewer than 300 votes in a three-way primary that included just the third district of the county. All Spokane County voters will receive a ballot for the general election, which French believes will boost his support.



The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.