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Tuesday, November 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Online ads in support of Nadine Woodward deemed legal

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 27, 2019

Spokane mayoral candidate Nadine Woodward reacts with supporters as results come in during an election night watch party on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, at Barrister Winery in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane mayoral candidate Nadine Woodward reacts with supporters as results come in during an election night watch party on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, at Barrister Winery in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The state Public Disclosure Commission dismissed complaints this week against Nadine Woodward and political groups that support her candidacy for mayor.

The commission declined to open a full investigation into accusations that online campaign ads in support of Woodward did not adequately disclose who had sponsored them.

The online ads, which were paid for by the Washington Realtors Political Action Committee, properly displayed their sponsor upon a single click-through, determined PDC Compliance Officer Jennifer Hansen.

Multiple versions of the complaint were filed in July by Guy Thompson against Woodward’s campaign and a number of political groups that have supported her with independent expenditures, including the Spokane Good Government Alliance, Washington Realtors PAC and Concerned Taxpayers of Washington State.

In his complaint, Thompson expressed concern that the ads did not display who had paid for them.

But under guidance issued by the PDC, online ads may display its sponsor “on a webpage that is conspicuously linked to the small ad and reached with one mouse click,” and do not have to display a sponsor on the ad itself.

The ads documented in Thompson’s complaint were displayed on websites in the leadup to the Aug. 6 primary election. They showed a picture of Woodward and, in purple lettering, stated “it’s time for change.”

Woodward’s opponent, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, has also been the subject of a campaign finance complaint that was dismissed.

Glen Morgan, executive director of the group Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, alleged in July that Stuckart has accepted accepted $521 in anonymous contributions, which is $221 more than the $300 permitted by state law. He asserted that Stuckart’s campaign must immediately forfeit $221 to the state.

In response, Stuckart noted that the section of law cited by Morgan states that the limit is “one percent of the total accumulated contributions received in the current calendar year, or three hundred dollars, whichever is more.”

Since his campaign had to that point raised about $144,000, Stuckart said his anonymous cash contribution limit would be $1,437. The commission agreed in an Aug. 28 dismissal of the complaint.

Morgan also filed a complaint against Stuckart in January, which was promptly discarded

The complaint alleged that Stuckart had failed to report an in-kind contribution to his mayoral campaign when he appeared in an ad in support of the public safety levy earlier this year.

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