On September 2019, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) received a complaint alleging that Elizabeth Hartsoch, a candidate for City Council Member for the City of Bellingham in 2019, may have violated RCW 42.17A.240 by failing to provide sufficient expenditure details and for failure to report the candidate registration/filing fee.
PDC staff reviewed the allegation, and the May and July 2019 C-4 reports filed by Ms. Hartsoch and found that the Campaign, through its consultant, made a $1,302.21 expenditure towards "pieces of walk literature," but failed to include the number of literature materials purchased. Staff also found that the Campaign initially neglected to report the PDC filing fee as required by the law/rule, but later amended both C-4 reports and included the required details.
Staff determined that the noncompliance was a result of a minor error, which the Campaign remedied by filing amended C-4 reports as soon as it received a copy of the complaint. Staff also noted that Ms. Hartsoch is a first-time candidate who does not have any prior violations with the PDC.
Based on these findings staff has determined that, in this instance, the Campaign's failure to properly and accurately describe an expenditure and report a contribution for registration fee, is a violation that does not warrant further investigation.
Ms. Hartsoch made a minor or ministerial error(s) on a few expenditures already disclosed on her C-4 reports, which did not materially impact the public interest since the expenditures were timely disclosed on the initial reports, except for the filing fee, which was included after the May 2019 C-4 was amended. After being notified of the error(s) by the PDC, Ms. Hartsoch amended the C-4 reports after four days of receiving the complaint disclosing the proper expenditure descriptions and making the necessary technical corrections.
Based on this information, the PDC dismissed this matter in accordance with RCW 42.17A.755(1).Disposition: Request for Technical Correction (Resolved 11/07/2019)