A complaint was filed against Loren Culp, the incumbent Police Chief of Republic, and a candidate seeking election to the office of Governor of Washington State in 2020, alleging violations of RCW 42.17A.445 by making expenditures from his 2020 Gubernatorial Campaign that constituted a personal use of contributions.
On April 29, 2020, PDC staff held an Initial Hearing (Case status review) pursuant to RCW 42.17A.755, and WACs 390-37-060 and 390-37-071, and opened a formal investigation concerning this matter. PDC staff's investigation found that the Campaign purchased 732 copies of American Cop and used the books as a fundraiser. That resulted in the Campaign receiving a total of $10,230 in net contributions from the proceeds of the sale.
The sale of the book American Cop was directly related to Loren Culp’s campaign for Governor of Washington State, and was part of the campaign fundraising strategy. While the sales price of the books sold to the Campaign were based on the fair market value, due to his ownership interest in American Cop, Mr. Culp nonetheless personally benefitted from the sale of the books purchased directly from the publisher at the wholesale price.
Staff found that a potential conflict of interest exists where, as here, a candidate or his/her business provides goods or services to his/her campaign, and may profit from that sale, in this case of the book American Cop.
However, there are a number of mitigating factors in this specific instance that renders the allegation as a minor violation of RCW 42.17A, including that: (1) Mr. Culp is a first-time candidate for public office; (2) a demand for the book American Cop existed prior to Mr. Culp declaring his candidacy for Governor; and (3) the Culp for Governor Campaign disclosed receiving $278,991 in total contributions received through April 30, 2020, so the $10,230 paid by the Campaign for the books, and the $10,230 netted for the Campaign, each represents a small percentage of total Campaign funds.
To resolve this violation, pursuant to WAC 390-37-060(1)(d), Mr. Culp will receive a formal written warning concerning the payments made to him through his business, American Cop, based on the sale of books to the Campaign using Campaign funds. Mr. Culp will be informed that the Commission will consider the formal written warning in deciding on further Commission action if there are future violations of PDC laws or rules.
The PDC dismissed the complaint in accordance with RCW 42.17A.755(1).Disposition: Case Closed with Written Warning (Resolved 06/03/2020)