The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has completed its review of the complaint filed on October 30, 2019. The complaint alleged that Anna Rohrbough, a candidate for Snohomish County Council, Position 2 in 2019, may have violated: (1) RCW 42.17A.555 for misuse of public facilities by using a county sheriff’s ride-along event to benefit her 2019 election campaign; and (2) RCW 42.17A.320 for failure to include complete sponsor identification in online political advertisement paid for by the 2019 campaign.
PDC staff reviewed the allegations; the applicable statutes, rules, and reporting requirements; PDC Interpretation 04-02; and the response provided by Anna Rohrbough, to determine whether the record supports a finding of one or more violations.
The complaint included an additional allegation regarding a possible breech of the signed contract Ms. Rohrbough agreed to when participating in the ride-along related to the use of what she observed during the event. Apart from the portion of the ride-along event resulting in a possible violation of RCW 42.17A.555, staff found this allegation to be outside of the PDC’s jurisdiction and did not address this part of the complaint.
Anna Rohrbough is a current elected official and was a candidate for a separate county-wide office in 2019. It appears that her failure to disclose a complete sponsor identification for online poltical advertisement sponsored by her campaign, was due to a misunderstanding the applicable statute. Sponsor identification is used to inform the public who has paid for or sponsored a political advertisement. Although the half dozen online advertisements referenced above did not contain the mailing address of the sponsor required in RCW 42.17A.320, the sponsor was still clearly identified as the 2019 Campaign to Elect Anna Rohrbough.
Staff found no evidence to prove that Ms. Rohrbough used the ride-along event to support her campaign. Ms. Rohrbough responded promptly to the complaint and has not previously been found in violation of PDC laws or rules.
Based on these findings staff has determined that, in this instance, failure to include complete sponsor identification in online advertisements paid for by the candidate’s campaign, does not amount to a finding of a violation warranting further investigation.
PDC staff reminded Anna Rohrbough about the importance of including sponsor identification, including the name and address of the sponsor, as required on written political advertisements in accordance with the statutes and rules.
Based on this information, the PDC finds that no further action is warranted and has dismissed this matter in accordance with RCW 42.17A.755(1).Disposition: Case Closed with Reminder (Resolved 01/02/2020)