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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County Democrats will pay $47,300 for campaign finance violations

Jim CastroLang, left, reads primary election results in this August 2015 photo. CastroLang, and the local Democratic Party, will pay penalties to settle a lawsuit with the state tied to late campaign finance filings. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane County Democratic Party will pay nearly $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Washington state alleging multiple violations of campaign finance reporting laws.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office announced the settlement in a news release Monday. The deal requires the Central Committee of the Spokane County Democratic Party to pay $47,300 in penalties for failing to timely report $104,000 in contributions and $110,000 in expenditures in 2016. The settlement also requires Jim CastroLang, the former chair of the party, to pay $1,500. Justin Galloway, the former party treasurer, will pay $500.

An additional $36,000 in penalties against the party will be suspended for four years, during which time there can be no new violations of state campaign finance laws.

Ed Wood, the current chairman of the local party, called the agreement “fair.”

“It’s up to us to raise the money,” Wood said. “We could use the money in other places that would be better, but it is what it is.”

CastroLang referred comment to his attorney, who did not respond to messages Monday.

The lawsuit was brought after Glen Morgan, a former official with the Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank, filed a citizen’s complaint alleging violations of the state’s campaign finance laws in May 2017. Morgan has filed multiple complaints with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission against parties and candidates, and was one of the men behind a dubious mailer sent this year encouraging voters to write-in a candidate from the 2016 race for Congress for a state Senate seat even though that former candidate endorsed the Democratic candidate in the Senate race.

At least 180 of the Democratic Party’s financial filings were late, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office, and some reports weren’t filed until after the lawsuit was initiated in Thurston County Superior Court last year. Attorney General Bob Ferguson recused himself from the case.

The penalties will be paid into the state’s Public Disclosure Transparency Account, according to the news release. Money deposited in that account must be used to implement and enforce the state’s campaign finance laws.