On September 6, 2019, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) received a complaint alleging that Deborah Bertlin, the incumbent mayor for the City of Mercer Island and a candidate for City Council Member for the City of Mercer Island in 2019, may have violated RCW 42.17A.555 by misusing the City of Mercer Island email to support her own election campaign.
Staff reviewed the allegation listed int he complaint to determine whether a formal investigation or enforcement action is warranted. Staff reviewed all attachments submitted with the complaint, the statute, rules, and PDC Interpretation 04-02 "Guidelines for Local Government Agencies in Election Campaigns," and the response from Mayor Bertlin's counsel.
Staff found that the email sent by Mayor Bertlin to two City employees on June 30, 2019, was sent for the purpose of furthering her political campaign. Her email to the two City employees asking for the City's policy was in response/follow-up to a question that the primary candidates had been asked by a reporter and was therefore sent in Mayor Bertlin's role or capacity as political campaign candidate as opposed to her capacity as the Mayor.
While Mayor Bertlin used her City of Mercer Island email to further or assist her political campaign as political candidate in 2019, this shortcoming is mitigated by (1) No prior PDC violations; and (2) Her dual role or capacity as a Mayor and Candidate overlapped and caused the Mayor to send the email to staff using her City issued email account instead of her dedicated campaign email account or a private email account.
PDC staff reminded Mayor Bertlin about the importance of not using the City of Mercer Island's email account to assist her political campaign in the future.
Based on these findings, PDC staff dismissed this matter in accordance with RCW 42.17A.755(1).Disposition: Case Closed with Reminder (Resolved 11/04/2019)