Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke used county email to improperly gather information ahead of a candidate debate during his re-election bid in 2012, the Washington Public Disclosure Commission ruled Thursday.
The Commission fined Mielke $100 and suspended an additional $400 fine for four years if he avoids campaign infractions. The case stems from a complaint made by Mielke's Democratic opponent, John Roskelley, following a debate in front of the Newman Lake Homeowner's Association in June 2012.
The homeowner's association president, Staci Lehman, sent Mielke and Roskelley a list of questions ahead of the debate that centered around the area's complex property tax assessments to establish flood control for the area. Mielke asked his office assistant, Nancy Voermans, to get information from County Engineering employee Jane Clark. Voermans used her official county email to make the request, what Commission staffed called a violation of state law prohibiting candidates from authorizing public employees to participate in campaign activities.
Voermans did not testify at the hearing because she was ill. Mielke said after the hearing that her testimony may have changed the outcome.
"Nancy's affidavit specifically says, 'I never got any direction on this,'" Mielke said.
Clark later sent Roskelley the same information she provided Mielke on the Newman Lake levies.
The decision lays to rest a bitter campaign that saw Mielke sue Roskelley alleging the Democrat was violating state law by running for election in a county district where he didn't live. Roskelley called the lawsuit "dirty politics" at the time, saying he was building a new home in the district when he announced his intention to run.
That challenge was dismissed just a week before the Newman Lake debate.
Mielke said he'll pay the fine imposed by the commission Thursday.
"It's time to move on, and put this behind us," Mielke said.