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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane campaign group fails to report funds

Spokane’s Feb. 12 special election has spawned three official campaign organizations, along with campaign reporting violations.

It wasn’t until mid-December when the Spokane City Council decided to hold the Feb. 12 special election. That left a relatively short period to raise money and design strategies in support or opposition of the three propositions voters will decide on.

Library campaign

Yes for Spokane Libraries, a group working on behalf of Proposition 3, a levy for the Spokane Public Library, has had signs supporting the tax displayed throughout the city for weeks but hasn’t reported any contributions or expenses to the state Public Disclosure Commission. It likely should have been filing reports weekly since the end of last month, according to state rules.

Nathan Smith, the group’s campaign manager, said Wednesday that the group erred in interpreting the rules and would work quickly to file donation and expenditure reports by the end of the week.

“It was our mistake,” Smith said. “We are diligently trying to get it done as soon as humanly possible.”

Smith and campaign treasurer Jack Fallis serve on the Spokane Public Library Board of Trustees.

Besides signs, the group has paid for a campaign phone bank and a mailer that arrived about the same time as ballots. Smith said the group has raised about $20,000.

Proposition 3 is a levy lid lift that would increase property taxes by 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. (That’s $7 for a $100,000 property.) The tax would prevent the closure of branch libraries and likely be used to increase hours at the city’s three neighborhood library branches from 22 1/2 hours a week to 40 hours a week.

Supermajority proposition

Funding for signs opposing Spokane Proposition 2, which were ordered by Spokane Firefighters Union and Local 270 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Proposition 2 would raise the threshold needed in City Council votes to increase certain taxes from four out of seven members to five.

Kris Byrum, the campaign manager for the new group, Citizens for Democracy, said he formed it to unify opposition. He said the group has pledges for about $3,000. Beth Thew, secretary-treasurer of the Spokane Labor Council, said the council has pledged $500 to the campaign.

A group that supports Proposition 2, Spokane Citizens for Responsible Democracy, reported to the PDC on Monday contributions of $5,300, including a $1,500 contribution from the Spokane Home Builders Association Political Action Committee.

City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, a committee member of the campaign in support of Proposition 2, said the group will consider a media campaign depending on how much is raised.

Miscellaneous campaign notes

• No groups have formed to support or oppose Proposition 1, which would place the police ombudsman’s office in the city charter.

• The Spokane County Democratic Party has endorsed the library levy and Proposition 1. It voted to oppose Proposition 2 and plans to make a $200 contribution to Citizens for Democracy, said past county Chairwoman Kris Cejka.

• The Spokane County Republican Party has endorsed Proposition 2 and given a $250 donation to Spokane Citizens for Responsible Democracy, said county party Chairman Ben Oakley. The party did not take positions on Propositions 1 or the library levy.

The Spokane Firefighters Union was not late in filing campaign reports related to Proposition 2 to the state Public Disclosure Commission. This story was corrected on Feb. 7, 2013 to remove incorrect references that the union missed deadlines. Local 270 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ordered signs before the Spokane Firefighters Union and should have reported the spending to the Public Disclosure Commission by the time this article appeared.

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