More campaign audit results released
Four more completed audit reports of 2018 state Senate races were presented to the Commission. Audited candidates included two Republicans and two Democrats: Jeff Holy and Marty McClendon, and Emily Randall and Jessa Lewis.
The four new limited-scope audits showed that candidates substantially complied with reporting requirements and employed sound internal control procedures. They join previous audits of four other 2018 Senate races.
Next up for the auditors: a review of eight 2020 state House races.
Concepts for digital political ad library discussed
Commissioners got a first look at what digital political ad disclosure might look like, if it were connected with campaign expenditure reporting and integrated into the PDC website.
Members of the public could use the website to find a candidate and click from that campaign’s expenditure reports to ad details maintained by commercial advertisers. (Facebook currently has a policy to not sell political advertising to state and local campaigns in Washington state. It’s included here for illustration purposes.)
The idea has been shared with advertisers to elicit feedback. Next steps include exploring technical details and ensuring access to the specific information that’s needed to comply with state disclosure laws for political ads.
Work continues on surplus funds interpretation
Commission members discussed a draft interpretation that would guide how candidates handle surplus funds left after a campaign concludes.
They agreed to defer adoption of the interpretation while staff completes further outreach with stakeholders and evaluate the amount of campaign activity regarding post-election transfer of surplus funds. The Commission plans to continue its discussion at a future meeting.
Grassroots lobbying legislation proposed
The Commission heard a brief report on a bill to further regulate grassroots lobbying, that was introduced late in the 2021 legislative session. The proposal aims to require more disclosure so that citizens can know the source of messages – be it nonprofits, political organizations, corporations or others – seeking to influence legislation.
Commission Chair Fred Jarrett said the topic is ripe for discussion, and that PDC staff should think about how best the Commission could weigh in on the proposed legislation before the start of the 2022 session. The Commission plans to discuss it and other topics for potential legislation at its July meeting.
In a continuation of an enforcement action initiated at the March 25, 2021, Commission meeting, the Commission voted to adjust and suspend a fine issued at the March meeting to Justyn Turner, a former school board member for the Mary Walker School District.
The adjustment was made to reflect that a Personal Financial Affairs (F-1) report had been submitted prior to the March 25 hearing, and after information about Turner’s serious health issue was reported to the Commission.
The Commission voted to issue a $250 fine, but to suspend the entire fine as long as there are no further violations.
In PDC Case 80210, the Commission voted to fine Olivia Deleon, a former school board member for the Mount Vernon School District, $1,500 for failure to file two Personal Financial Affairs (F-1) reports covering calendar years 2018 and 2019. PDC staff noted that Deleon had two previous violations, for missing F-1 reports from calendar years 2016 and 2017.
Other enforcement statistics:
As of April 12, the PDC had 27 active cases. Between March 15 and April 12, the staff closed 17 cases.
Next Commission meeting: May 27, 2021