NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

State of Washington sues Kim Wyman for public disclosure law violations

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.

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