The state is preparing to sue more than 50 politicians and lobbyists to collect unpaid fines imposed by the state campaign finance watchdog as penalties for violating disclosure rules.
Public Disclosure Commission staff say nearly $40,000 is owed, some of it dating back five years.
The fines were levied as penalties for breaking disclosure rules enforced by the commission.
The top two debtors are Steven Burdick, the campaign treasurer for former state representative Jesse Wineberry of Seattle, who owes $2,500; and former state senator Ray Moore, who now lives in Hawaii and owes $1,750.
Burdick was fined for using campaign funds for personal use and not keeping complete records. Moore was fined for violations of reporting procedures.
Commission staff and Attorney General Christine Gregoire’s office are preparing lawsuits against 54 current and former officeholders, unsuccessful candidates and others. Meanwhile, the commission is preparing to send out warning letters to 63 others as a prelude to possible lawsuits.
Moreover, PDC Executive Director Melissa Warheit plans to ask the 1998 Legislature to give the commission power to go after politicians who fail to pay fines by barring them from raising or spending any money in future elections, and by banning delinquent lobbyists.
Warheit said the commission will spend more on staff time and attorneys’ costs than will be recovered by filing lawsuits.
“On the other hand,” she said, “it’s important to pursue these to protect the integrity of the law.”
Those listed by the PDC, the office they sought or were elected to and the fine they face are:
Charles Baechler, judge, Pend Oreille County, $950; Juanita Reddinger, Chewelah School District, $500; Karen Cecil, East Valley School District, $350; Harvey Moses, Grant County Hosptial Commission, $250; John Hooley, Grant County Fire District 4, $250; Marty Padilha, Republic Parks and Recreation District, $250; Karen Raftis, Loon Lake School District, $100.
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