The Washington Public Disclosure Commission laid to rest a three-year-old election spat involving Todd Mielke on Thursday, fining the Spokane County commissioner $100 for authorizing a public employee to campaign.
The case stems from a complaint made by Mielke’s Democratic opponent in the 2012 County Commissioner’s race, John Roskelley, following a debate in front of the Newman Lake Homeowner’s Association that summer. Both Mielke and Roskelley sought information from a county engineering employee to answer questions about the area’s complex tax levies.
But Roskelley said that Mielke gave permission for his executive assistant to seek the information using county email during office hours, a violation of state campaigning laws.
Mielke’s assistant, Nancy Voermans, did not testify Thursday in Olympia due to illness. Mielke represented himself there, and said her testimony would have changed the outcome.
“Nancy’s affidavit specifically says, ‘I never got any direction on this,’ ” Mielke said after the hearing.
Both Roskelley and Mielke received the same information from Jane Clark, a county employee in the Engineering Department, prior to the Newman Lake debate. Roskelley’s complaint was filed a month after he was cleared to appear on the November ballot. Mielke had challenged Roskelley’s eligibility because he didn’t live in the county district where he sought election.
Roskelley later said he was building a home there while running, and called Mielke’s legal challenge “dirty politics.” Mielke defeated Roskelley with 55 percent of the vote that year, but the Public Disclosure Commission didn’t open its investigation into the incident until summer 2013.
Mielke said he’ll pay the fine imposed by the commission. He’s announced he’s seeking the county’s chief executive position. County commissioners will decide later this spring who will take outgoing CEO Marshall Farnell’s place.
“It’s time to move on and put this behind us,” Mielke said.
Mielke, a former state legislator, has been fined twice before by the disclosure commission for failing to file timely campaign finance reports, totaling $525 in fines dating back to 1997.
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