Case #73852
Respondent name: Tana Senn (Surplus Account)
Complainant name: Glen Morgan

A complaint was filed alleging that Tana Senn, an incumbent Washington State Representative for the 41st Legislative District and a candidate seeking re-election to that office in 2020, may have violated RCW 42.17A.430 by making a $1,000 prohibited expenditure from the Tana Senn Surplus Funds Account to the Eastside Democratic Dinner Committee.

On July 9, 2020, the Tana Senn Surplus Funds account filed a C-4 report for June of 2020, disclosing $1,524.50 in surplus funds expenditures were made during June that included a $1,000 contribution made to the Eastside Democratic Dinner Committee on June 11, 2020.

According to its website, the Eastside Democratic Dinner Committee (Committee) is made up of regional Democratic Party organizations that supports “Democratic party building efforts” for four legislative district organizations in East King County. The Committee works collaboratively with the 5th, 41st, 45th and 48th Legislative District Democratic organizations, and the Committee’s leadership consists of each of the four Chairs of those East King County Legislative District Democratic organizations.

Representative Senn and her Treasurer both “mistakenly believed it was a political party and not a PAC (and therefore a permissible use of the funds). It was not until reading the complaint that we realized our mistake, and a request was immediately made for the refund of the donation.”

The $1,000 contribution made using surplus funds was refunded by the Committee and received and deposited by the Tana Senn Surplus funds account on July 23, 2020.  A C-3 report was filed by the Tana Senn Surplus funds account on July 24, 2020, disclosing the receipt and deposit of the $1,000 refund of contribution from the Committee as July 23, 2020.  

Staff found that while the Eastside Democratic Dinner Committeehas a direct nexus to the 5th, 41st, 45th and 48th Legislative District Democratic organizations since the Chairs are its Officers, the surplus fund expenditure was not made to a bona fide political party committee.  The $1,000 contribution was timely refunded by the Eastside Democratic Dinner Committee, and staff’s review indicated the contribution had not been spent prior to being refunded. 

PDC staff found no evidence of a material violation that would require conducting a more formal investigation into the complaint or pursuing enforcement action in this instance. Staff is reminding Representative Senn concerning the importance of carefully reviewing expenditures made from the surplus funds account to make sure all expenditures are permissible in accordance with RCW 42.17A.430, especially contributions made to political party organizations.  The PDC has dismissed the complaint in accordance with RCW 42.17A.755(1). 

Disposition: Case Closed with Reminder (Resolved 09/22/2020)
Date opened: 07/21/2020
Area of Law: RCW 42.17A.430

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