A complaint was filed alleging that Washingtonians Win in the 19th, a political committee registered and reporting with the PDC, violated RCW 42.17A by failing to accurately disclose expenditure details on Summary Full Campaign Contribution and Expenditure reports (C-4 reports), and provide the required sponsor identification information including independent expenditure language, top contributor information, and the party preference of the candidates featured in the advertisements.
Washingtonians Win – sponsored by Maverick Gaming is a continuing political committee that registered and reported in CY 2019 and 2020. On March 1, 2020, Washingtonians Win in the 19th– sponsored by Maverick Gaming (WW19) filed a Registration disclosing that it was a Continuing Political Committee sponsored by Maverick Gaming and selecting the Full Reporting Option.
In 2020, WW19 has received $190,000 in monetary contributions, plus an additional $1,500 for in-kind contributions received from Washingtonians Win – sponsored by Maverick Gaming. In addition, WW19 disclosed receiving a total of $5,000 for in-kind contributions from Maverick Gaming for the costs associated with operating the political committee.
WW 19 timely filed the monthly C-4 reports covering the period March 1 through May 31, 2020, as well as the 21-Day and 7-Day Pre-Primary C-4 reports disclosing $155,449 in itemized expenditures that included 24 expenditures to Levy Online totaling $107,219 for billboard production and independent advertising, creative design and management fees, and a $37,100 expenditure made to EMC Research for survey work.
On June 22, 2020, WW19 filed an Independent Expenditure Report (C-6 report) checking box 2 as an Independent Expenditure of more than $1,000 and disclosing $23,528 for independent expenditures made in opposition to Representative Jim Walsh in the 19th Legislative District. The independent expenditures included six expenditures that were all made on March 10, 2020 to Levy Online for Billboard Media for $8,568, $8,175, and $2,385, and Billboard Production and Installation for $1,450 listed three times. The C-6 report disclosed that the billboards were presented to the public on May 25, June 1, and June 22, 2020.
The Committee stated the first billboards for WW19 went up on April 27, 2020, but did not support or oppose any candidate or even contain a message about any candidates, instead the billboards content only included information about coronavirus safety reminders. The first billboards to present a message regarding Rep. Walsh did not go up until June 1, 2020.
The Committee acknowledged the sponsor identification on the billboards failed to include the phrase “No candidate paid for this ad,” in addition to the top 5 and top 3 contributor information, and that the billboards have been corrected. The Committee stated Maverick Gaming was the only contributor required to have been listed in the disclaimer, and added WW19 “was not hiding the identity of its contributors, and there could be no confusion on the part of the public about who paid for the ad.” The Committee also acknowledged that billboards initially failed to identify Representative Walsh’s party preference, but the billboards have been corrected to properly identify Representative Walsh’s party preference as “Republican.”
Pursuant to WAC 390-37-060(1)(d), the PDC issued a formal written warning to Washingtonians Win in the 19th, and Maverick Gaming, concerning the requirement to provide the party preference for any partisan candidates, along with the Notice to Voter and Top contributor language, on all independent expenditures, and electioneering communications undertaken for the remainder of the 2020 election. Washingtonians Win in the 19th, and Maverick Gaming will be advised that the Commission will consider this formal written warning in deciding on further Commission action, should there be future violations of PDC laws or rules.
The PDC has dismissed the complaint in accordance with RCW 42.17A.755(1).Disposition: Case Closed with Written Warning (Resolved 09/01/2020)