The State of Washington is suing Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman for multiple public disclosure law violations, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced in a news release this afternoon.
“The complaint alleges the Wyman campaign failed to timely file contribution and expenditure disclosure reports, as required under the state’s campaign finance laws. It also alleges that the campaign failed to timely deposit contributions,” reads a news release from the Attorney General’s office.
Ordinarily, these announcements include a brief statement from the Attorney General himself about the case, but that’s not so in this instance, owing to Ferguson’s decision to recuse himself. (Ferguson and Wyman are both seeking reelection to statewide positions with the backing of their respective parties. Ferguson was nominated last month by the Democratic Party for Attorney General, and Wyman is fervently supported for Secretary of State by the Republican Party).
The complaint against Wyman stems from a citizen action notice sent by the Washington State Democratic Party back in the spring. The matter subsequently came before the Public Disclosure Commission, which investigated.
PDC staff reached the following conclusions, as characterized by the AG’s office:
Wyman filed 11 reports for the campaign’s April 2016 activity 10 days late, disclosing $30,567 in additional contributions in May 2016. The campaign also filed an amended campaign summary report to include the late contribution disclosures, as well as $943 it had failed to account for in a previous report.
After staff presented their findings, the PDC voted to refer the matter back to the Attorney General’s office, since it originated as a citizen’s action.
Before that vote, commissioners expressed a desire to see the matter be settled, given that Wyman had participated in the PDC investigation and sought to take ownership for her campaign’s reporting failures.
However, state’s attorneys have decided to proceed to court with their case.
Since becoming Attorney General, Bob Ferguson has made enforcement of Washington’s public disclosure laws a priority, and has gone after pretty much everybody, from SEIU 775NW to serial offender Tim Eyman. Kim Wyman can hardly complain about unfair treatment — her campaign broke the law and the Attorney General’s office are moving to hold her accountable.
The Washington State Republican Party’s response to the lawsuit was to attack Bob Ferguson, who has a Libertarian opponent in the general election (not a single Republican filed to run against Ferguson):
Here are the facts:
The Wyman campaign treasurer SELF-REPORTED to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) regarding the late filing of some donation reports. The mistakes were minor and technical in nature – the public was not harmed in any way. The usual procedure is for the state’s PDC to handle and resolve such routine matters.
However, at the request of the chairman of the Washington State Democrat Party [sic], Ferguson went around the PDC and filed a LAWSUIT against Kim Wyman!
This collusion with the State Democrats is a clear conflict of interest, as Attorney General Ferguson has donated to, and actively campaigned for, Kim’s Democrat [sic] opponent. Even though the AG has had this information for months, he carefully timed his action to make headlines right before ballots arrive in voters’ homes.
This cynical and partisan ‘October surprise’ is intended by Ferguson to favor Kim’s inexperienced left-wing opponent.
The lawsuit filed by Ferguson’s office is a gross abuse of the Attorney General’s office, a waste of taxpayer money, and politically motivated. This is partisan party politics at its worst, designed to harm Kim Wyman,who has an impeccable reputation for serving all citizens of the state. Call Bob Ferguson at […] or email him at […] and tell him: stop the partisan nonsense, stop wasting taxpayer money, stop the lawsuit against Kim Wyman!
What a laugher.
Newsflash to Susan Hutchison: Politics is partisan by its nature. Anyone who holds and defends an opinion or a set of values is a partisan. You ought to understand that better than most people, given that you head up a political party.
If you don’t like partisan politics — or, as you put it, partisan party politics — then you’re in the wrong job. (That’s a nice pointless redundancy you’ve got there, by the way. Why use only one word when you can use two?)
After the Wyman campaign sounded a similar note, Washington State Attorney General’s Office Communications Director Peter Lavallee released a sternly-worded statement admonishing Wyman’s campaign (and the WSRP by extension):
I want to set the record straight: Contrary to any insinuation by the Kim Wyman campaign, Attorney General Bob Ferguson played no role in the decision, the substance or the filing of today’s campaign-finance complaint. Career Attorney General’s Office legal staff made those calls.
The Wyman campaign might have missed this passage in our press release: ‘Attorney General Bob Ferguson is recused and has been screened from involvement in the matter.’
The following statement from the Wyman campaign is thus inaccurate and highly misleading, suggesting, as it does, personal involvement by the AG: ‘I expect that the Attorney General will follow the PDC’s recommendation to treat this as a minor violation with extenuating circumstances, and that he is not pursuing this purely for political purposes.’
I trust the Wyman campaign will draw the proper distinctions going forward.
Susan Hutchison and the Washington State Republican Party didn’t complain when Ferguson’s office went after SEIU 775NW or the Washington State Labor Council. But now that it’s Kim Wyman who’s had a complaint filed against her, they’re up in arms and crying foul. It certainly seems they’re on edge about the possibility of losing an office they’ve controlled for over fifty years.