Case #43855
Respondent name: Clark County Democratic Central Committee
Complainant name: Cheryl Aichele

The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has completed its review of the complaints filed on December 7 and December 12, 2018. The complaints alleged that the Clark County Democratic Central Committee, a bona fide county party committee registered with the Public Disclosure Commission, may have violated: (1) RCW 42.17A.230 for failure to timely and accurately report contributions from low-cost fundraisers, and failure to timely deposit contributions from fundraisers; (2) RCW 42.17A.235 for failure to timely report contributions and expenditures and failure to maintain sufficient books of account; (3) RCW 42.17A.240 and WAC 390-16-037 for failure to accurately report in-kind contributions and expenditures, expenditure details generally, and failure to report proceeds from fundraisers; (4) RCW 42.17A.270 for failure to timely and accurately report earmarked contributions and WAC 390-17-015 for improper transfer of earmarked contributions; and (5) RCW 42.17A.460 for failure to report earmarked contributions as made from both the original contributor and the party as a conduit of earmarked contributions.

The complaint also alleged violations RCW 42.17A.430 regarding the disposal of funds and RCW 42.17A.555 regarding the use of public facilities, neither of which are applicable to bona fide party committees. 

PDC staff reviewed the allegations; the applicable statutes, rules, and reporting requirements; the response provided by Walter Smith, legal counsel for the Clark County Democratic Central Committee (CCDCC); the applicable C-3 and C-4 reports filed by Respondent; and queried the Respondent’s data in the PDC contribution and expenditure database, to determine whether the record supports a finding of one or more violations.

Staff found that CCDCC made several errors in reporting their 2016, 2017 and 2018 campaign activities that required amendments to be submitted to correct missing, incorrect or incomplete data regarding contributions and expenditures. Many of these errors were corrected by the committee after receiving the complaint and none of those errors appear to have been intentional or otherwise meant to mislead the public, and they were not material. 

Based on these findings, staff has determined that, in this instance, for calendar years 2016, 2017 and 2018, CCDCC’s failure to disclose specific expenditures timely and include the required description, failure to timely report a monetary contribution, reporting incorrect employer and occupation information for individual contributors giving more than $100 in the aggregate, and depositing a small number of contributions late, does not amount to an actual violation warranting further investigation.

Pursuant to WAC 390-37-060(1)(b), the Clark County Democratic Central Committee received a formal written warning concerning failure to accurately and timely disclose all contribution and expenditures, including detailed expenditure descriptions, all occupation and employer information for individual donors and timely deposits of contributions received. The formal written warning included staff’s expectation that CCDCC accurately and timely files all future required reports of contributions and expenditures and makes deposits within five business days of receipt of contributions. The Commission will consider the formal written warning in deciding on further Commission action if there are future violations of PDC laws or rules.

Disposition: Case Closed with Written Warning (Resolved 03/07/2019)
Date opened: 12/11/2018
Area of Law: RCW 42.17A.230, RCW 42.17A.235, RCW 42.17A.240, RCW 42.17A.270, WAC 390-16-037, WAC 390-17-015

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