2000 Annual Report

Mission

The Public Disclosure Commission was created and empowered by an Initiative of the People to provide timely and meaningful public access to information about the financing of political campaigns, lobbyist expenditures, and the financial affairs of public officials and candidates, and to ensure compliance with contribution limits and other campaign finance restrictions.

Agency Goals and Objectives

  1. All filers will submit required reports in a complete, timely, and accurate fashion.

    • Filers will have the option of filing their reports on paper or electronically.
    • All requests for the PDC to conduct candidate and treasurer workshops will be accommodated.
    • Filers will have access to forms, manuals, and other instructional materials over the Internet. Requests for materials by those without access to the Internet will be processed on the same day as the request is received.
    • A member of the staff will always be available during business hours to respond to callers asking filing questions.
    • The Commission will promulgate, in accordance with Executive Order 97-02, any necessary rules, policies, and interpretations to provide guidance under the Law, and will provide timely responses to written requests for advice.
    • The Commission will perform a sufficient number of audits to provide a statistically valid finding regarding the degree of compliance with the law.
    • The Commission will hold enforcement hearings and, where appropriate, penalize filers who have not, after receiving reminder notices, filed the required reports.
    • The Commission will seek to recover through the judicial process the payment of penalties from those who fail to pay the assessments levied against them.

  2. The public will have timely and convenient access to filed reports and the ability to access data in ways that are most useful and best suit their individual needs.

    • Filed reports will be safely stored and efficiently organized.
    • Images or copies of filed reports, frequently requested material, and other items of interest will be available on the Internet, on computers in the PDC''s lobby, and by mail, fax and email.
    • The time between receipt of a filing and scanning of the report into the imaging system will be reduced.
    • The time between receipt of a filing and entry of selected information into the database will be reduced.
    • The amount of information entered into the database from filed reports will increase.

  3. Candidates, political committees, and contributors will be in compliance with the contribution limits and other campaign finance restrictions of Initiative 134.

    • A member of the staff will always be available during business hours to respond to callers asking questions about compliance with Initiative 134.
    • Filers will have access to forms, manuals, and other instructional materials over the Internet. Requests for materials by those without access to the Internet will be processed on the same day as the request is received.
    • All requests for presentations and workshops will be accommodated.
    • The Commission will process all complaints in an expeditious, consistent and fair manner that is appropriate according to the merits of the complaint and the results of any ensuing investigation.
General Information

  • Statutory Reference Code
    Revised Code of Washington 42.17
    established 1973
  • Organization
    The five Commissioners are appointed for five-year terms by the Governor with Senate consent. The Commission hires the executive director, sets agency policy and adjudicates enforcement matters.
The Commissioners who served during FY 2000 were:

    Gary Maehara (September 1994-December 1999)
    Ronda Cahill (March 1997-December 2001)
    Susan Brady (May 1997-December 2003)
    Ron Meyers (February 1998-July 1999)
    Christine Yorozu (August 1999-December 2002)
    Dean Sutherland (January 2000-May 2000)
    Gerald Marsh (January 2000-December 2004)

  • Executive Director: Vicki L. Rippie

  • Employees/Full Time Equivalents (FTEs)
    One FTE=2,088 paid hours of work per year by one or more individuals. 18 Classified
    4 Washington Management Service
    3.5 Exempt

  • Operating Budget FY 2000
    General Fund State $1,791,247
Item   Allotment   Expenditures   Disclosure   %   Enforcement   %   Administration   %
Salaries and Benefits* $1,006,338 $969,322 $600,980 62% $203,558 21% $164,785 17%
Personal Services Contracts $37,058 $37,058 100%
Travel $10,000 $14,355 $5,742 40% $7,178 50% $1,436 10%
Equipment (over $5,000) $200,000 $74,947 $74,947 100%
Goods & Services Total $574,909 $694,083 $272,680 39% $293,226 42% $128,187 19%
 
TOTAL $1,791,247 $1,789,765 $991,407 56% $503,952 28% $294,407 16%

  • Office Address
    711 Capitol Way, Room 206
    PO Box 40908
    Olympia WA 98504-0908

      (877) 601-2828 (Toll free)
    (360) 753-1111
    (360) 753-1112
    Web site:
    Email:
      www.pdc.wa.gov

Major Accomplishments

Information Technology. In the spring of 2000, with the support of the Governor and the Legislature, PDC established an IT division to spearhead its efforts to better utilize technology to fulfill its mission. Some of the primary IT achievements include:

  • March 2000 Hired Chief Technology Officer
  • April 2000 Hired Web Applications Chief who reworked the entire website to provide an updated look and navigation to adhere to Department of Information Services web site standards
  • Integrated major upgrades to the agency information technology infrastructure
  • Installed internal computer lab for software training
  • Developed a comprehensive information technology plan that is revised as changes occur
Filer Assistance and Training. The Commission provides instructional manuals, brochures and notices to candidates and political committees to help them comply with the law. This material is also available on the PDC website 24 hours seven days a week. In addition, staff provides individual one-on-one advice and compliance help to filers who call the office. During July through October, 1999, compliance staff spent approximately 60% of their time assisting customers by answering electronic mail and telephone inquiries. The installation of a toll free telephone number now offers a cost-free option to consumers.

Training and education will continue to be a critical part of the agency''s effort to promote timely and accurate disclosure. During FY 2000, Commission staff conducted 15 training workshops across the state, including 8 candidate workshops and 2 software training sessions.

Disclosure. Providing timely and convenient access to filed reports and the ability to access data in ways that are most useful is a key agency goal. During FY 2000, the PDC received 60, 211 reports from candidates, elected and appointed officials, lobbyists, lobbyist employers and political committees. These filings translated into 124,250 pages that were processed and scanned into the document imaging system. Once scanned into the system, reports are available both on the Commission''s intranet and its web site. The chart below demonstrates that images of reports were readily available for public scrutiny.

Average Number of Days from Receipt to Posting on Web Site

Reports filed
on paper
Reports filed
electronically
Campaign reports (July-December 1999)
State Executive 5.0 2.0
State Legislative 5.0 3.0
Local/Judicial 6.0 3.0
Political Committees 11.0 3.0
 
Lobbyist/Employer Reports (January-June 2000) 9.0 N/A*
 

*Electronic filing software is not yet available for lobbyists and lobbyist employers.

The Commission''s primary aim since its inception is the prompt response to requests for information from the agency''s many clients. During FY 2000, the agency replied to 2,279 requests for copies of reports or other documents.

Compliance. Staff spent 343 hours reviewing filings and conducting desk and field audits. The result of this activity showed that most filers were in substantial compliance with the disclosure laws.

Enforcement. The Commission has the authority to conduct investigations of complaints filed against elected officials, candidates for public office, political party organizations, political committees, lobbyists, and other filers. A report of investigation is prepared by Compliance/Enforcement staff for the majority of complaints filed with the PDC. Based on the evidence, the case is either scheduled for enforcement or a dismissal letter is sent to the complainant. The Commission holds two types of enforcement hearings, a brief or adjudicative enforcement hearing or full Commission enforcement hearing.

The brief or adjudicative enforcement hearing is scheduled for less serious matters with only one commissioner in attendance. If a brief enforcement hearing results in the finding of a violation, a civil penalty up to $500 may be assessed for the violation(s). A full Commission enforcement hearing is held for filers who appear to be substantially out of compliance with the disclosure law. This is a formal public hearing where evidence is presented and testimony is taken. If a violation is found before the full Commission, a civil penalty may be assessed up to $1,000 for a single violation or $2,500 for multiple violations. In addition to investigations, the Commission has the authority to conduct audits of reports filed by elected officials, candidates for public office, political party organizations, political committees, lobbyists, and other filers. Audits may be conducted randomly, for cause depending on the circumstances, or as part of an investigation.

Below is a table indicating the number and types of complaints filed:

Complaints/Enforcement Hearings/Investigations

FY 2000
 
Complaints Filed by Public 188
PDC Generated Complaints* 821
Total Complaints 1009
 
Complaints Filed Against Candidates 641
Complaints Filed by Public against Candidates 45
Complaints With Minor or No Action 55
 
*PDC generated primarily non-filing of annual Personal
Financial Affairs Statement (F1/F1A); Candidate
Registration Statement (C1) or F1/F1A; or lobbyist
employer reports (L-3).
Enforcement hearings held 451
Investigations opened 954
Investigations closed (including enforcement hearings) 758

Below is a summary of the enforcement hearings held during FY 2000.

July-December 1999 Enforcement Actions

38th District Democrats: The staff charged the 38th District Democrats with violating RCW 42.17.080 and .090 for failure to timely file its reports of contributions and expenditures between June 1997 and June 1999. The parties stipulated to facts and violations and asked the Commission to assess a penalty. The Commission accepted the stipulation and assessed a $2,500 penalty against the 38th District Democrats.

James Halstrom, Lobbyist: Mr. Halstrom was charged with violating RCW 42.17.150 and .170 by failing to timely register and report as a lobbyist. The investigation into this matter revealed that Mr. Halstrom failed to report over $500,000 in compensation received and expenditures incurred for lobbying. The parties reached a stipulated agreement in which Mr. Halstrom agreed to pay $32,000, with $16,000 suspended.

Grant Anderson: The parties stipulated that Mr. Anderson violated RCW 42.17.241 when he failed to report as a gift the receipt of approximately $9,600 in car payments made by a friend during 1994. Mr. Anderson agreed to pay $2,500 for the violation. The Commission accepted the stipulation. Dr. Joseph McGeehan, Superintendent, Highline School District: A complaint alleged that Dr. McGeehan violated RCW 42.17.130 by authorizing the use of district resources to assist a levy campaign. The parties stipulated to the facts and violation. The Commission accepted the stipulation and assessed a penalty of $2,500, with $1,000 suspended pending no further violation of RCW 42.17 for four years.

Washington Federation of State Employees: A complaint alleged that the Federation violated RCW 42.17.080 and .090 by failing to accurately report contribution and expenditure activity for its political committee. The parties reached a stipulated agreement where the Federation agreed to pay $20,000, with $5,000 suspended pending no further violation for two years. The Commission accepted the stipulation.

Washington State Department of Health: The parties reached a stipulated agreement in which the Department of Health acknowledged violating RCW 42.17.190 by using public funds to indirectly lobby. The Department of Health conducted a lobbying campaign wherein it asked the general public to assist it by contacting legislators about tobacco issues. The Department of Health agreed to pay a penalty of $2,500 for the violation. The Commission accepted the stipulation.

January-June 2000 Enforcement Actions

Laborers'' International Union of North America (LIUNA): A complaint was filed against LIUNA alleging LIUNA and its affiliated local unions violated the contribution limits set forth in RCW 42.17.640 when the local units gave contributions to several state and legislative candidates. However, WAC 390-16-311 allows subsidiary or local units to maintain their own contribution limits if the parent organization "stays out" of the election. PDC staff investigation showed that LIUNA had not contributed to state candidates or political committees and had otherwise "stayed-out" of state campaigns during the period of 1996 through 1998. The Commission dismissed the complaint against the Laborers'' International Union of North America, each of its local units, and the named candidates.

Michael Preston: A complaint was filed alleging a violation for failing to file a Personal Financial Affairs Statement in 1998 and 1999. Mr. Preston was found to have violated RCW 42.17.240 for failing to file a Personal Financial Affairs Statement in 1994 and Mr. Preston previously was assessed penalties that were not paid. Subsequently, a judgment was entered in Thurston County Superior Court for $1,339. The judgment remained unpaid. The Commission found apparent multiple violations of RCW 42.17.240 by Michael Preston and referred the matter to the Office of the Attorney General for appropriate action. This case was settled when Mr. Preston paid his outstanding penalties and filed his delinquent reports.

Alphonso Hampton: A complaint was filed against Alphonso Hampton that resulted in an enforcement hearing being held on May 25, 1999, in which Mr. Hampton was found to have violated RCW 42.17.060, .080 and .090 for failing to keep records and failing to report contributions and expenditures relating to his 1997 campaign. Mr. Hampton was assessed a penalty of $1500, with $750 suspended if he commits no violations of RCW 42.17 for two years and pays the remaining $750 within 90 days. The penalty was not paid and staff requested the Commission revoke the suspended portion of the penalty. The Commission revoked the suspension previously awarded in case #98-197 and ordered Alphonso Hampton to pay the entire $1,500 penalty assessment within seven days from service of the order.

Bob Holman and Bill Verwolf: A complaint was filed against Bob Holman, Mayor of the City of Monroe, and Bill Verwolf, Monroe City Administrator, alleging the use of the facilities of the City of Monroe to promote a local referendum violating RCW 42.17.130. The parties entered into a stipulation. The Commission voted to accept the stipulation and ordered respondent Bob Holman to reimburse the City of Monroe $1,508.21 with non-public funds by June 30, 2000, and imposed on Holman a civil penalty of $2,500. The Commission suspended $1,508.21 of this penalty on the condition that the respondent: 1) in his capacity as Mayor of the City of Monroe, does not violate a provision of chapter 42.17 RCW for a period of two years; 2) reimburses the City of Monroe $1,508.21 using non-public funds by June 30, 2000; and 3) pays the $991.79 non-suspended portion of the penalty to the Commission using non-public funds by June 30, 2000. The Commission further ordered that the charges against Bill Verwolf be dismissed.

Christine Ohlsen and Richard Ridgeway: A complaint was filed against Christine Ohlsen, a City of Tumwater firefighter alleging a violation of RCW 42.17.130 by using the facilities of the Tumwater Fire Department to appear in a No on I-695 television advertisement wearing her official uniform. In addition, the complaint also alleged a violation by Chief Richard Ridgeway for authorizing Ms. Ohlsen to wear her uniform while making the television commercial. The parties entered into two stipulated agreements. The Commission accepted the Ridgeway stipulation, with the proviso that if the suspension conditions are violated, Mr. Ridgeway shall pay the full penalty of $1,250 with non-public funds. The Commission accepted the Ohlsen stipulation in which Ms. Ohlsen agreed to one violation but was not assessed a penalty..Litigation. The following is a summary of major litigation occurring in FY 2000 in which the Public Disclosure Commission was a party. It does not include the 92 superior court cases pursued to collect unpaid penalties imposed by PDC.

FEDERAL COURT

Washington Initiatives Now v. Rippie, 213 F.3d 1132 (2000) (May 25, 2000). This was a challenge under the First Amendment to the state statute at RCW 42.17.090(1)(g) and PDC regulation at WAC 390-16-044(1) requiring initiative campaigns to report monthly the names and addresses of payment to petition signature gatherers. The U.S. District Court had granted summary judgment upholding the statute. Upon WIN''s appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the appellate court found that requiring disclosure of amounts paid to initiative circulators violates the First Amendment. The court found the statute and regulation compelled disclosure of information which chilled political speech. The court found the state''s asserted interests in fraud detection and in educating voters through campaign finance disclosure did not justify the significant burden imposed upon protected speech.

STATE COURT

Washington State Republican Party v. Washington State Public Disclosure Commission et al., 141 Wn.2d 245, 4 P.3d 808 (2000) (July 27, 2000). This was a case involving the PDC enforcement of "soft" campaign contributions in the 1996 elections and alleged violations of RCW 42.17.640 in two gubernatorial television advertisements. In subsections (6) and (14), the statute provided only certain categories of permissible uses of such funds. The State Supreme Court ruled that RCW 42.17.640''s restrictions on permissible uses in subsections (6) and (14) are unconstitutional as they were applied to "issue advocacy." The court found that "express advocacy" for or against a candidate can be regulated by the state by a statute such as RCW 42.17.640, but "issue advocacy" that educates voters about issues and candidates'' positions cannot be similarly regulated. In other words, exempt funds or "soft money" can be used (contributed and spent), without limit, for issue advocacy, despite the language in RCW 42.17.640 (6) and (14).