December 21, 2020

New Commission Chair and Vice Chair 

The Commission chose Fred Jarrett as its new chair to replace David Ammons, who presided over his final meeting. 

Nancy Isserlis, a Spokane attorney who joined the Commission in 2020, replaces Jarrett as vice chair of the Commission. 

Jarrett joined the PDC in 2019, following a decades-long career of public service as Mercer Island mayor, state senator and representative and Senior deputy county executive in King County. He also had a 35-year career at the Boeing Co. 

Commissioners and PDC staff members thanked Ammons for his dedication to the PDC. 

Jarrett praised Ammons’ ability to build relationships with both PDC staff members and citizens. 

“The respect he treats them with allows them to be the best they can be,” Jarrett said. 

Ammons, a former statehouse reporter for The Associated Press and communications director for the Secretary of State, has been a fixture at the PDC since its inception in 1972. He was among the first to use the trove of political financing information made available by Initiative 276 and to report on the PDC’s work. 

Ammons said it has been an honor to serve on the PDC. 

“Initiative 276 arose from the people and was one of the earliest and best sunshine laws in America,” Ammons said. “It continues to have that sterling reputation.” 

Major advances in disclosure of money in politics marked Ammons’ four years on the Commission, including the publication of millions of PDC records on the state’s Open Data portal, the development of two major reporting systems that help candidates and elected officials report fully, and the online publication of financial affairs disclosure statements for the first time in Washington state.  

He also spearheaded the PDC’s ongoing project to improve digital political advertising transparency, leading a forum that drew experts from around the country to Olympia in January 2020.  

“Our commitment to emerging technology has become a watchword,” Ammons said. “It will equip us to be watchdogs to the rapidly changing political advertising ecosystem.” 

 

Commission fines Snohomish County sheriff recall committee 

The Commission voted unanimously to fine the Committee to Recall Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney $300 for late disclosure of in-kind contributions by attorneys working on the recall charges. 

The Commission also voted to conditionally defer action against the committee for exceeding contribution limits, provided the committee does not coordinate with future candidates for the sheriff job or members of the Snohomish County Council and its staff. 

The committee agreed to pay the penalty and accept the conditions in a stipulated agreement. 

In other enforcement actions: 

PDC staff closed a total of 43 cases between Oct. 14 and Nov. 23, 2020.  

They included five cases closed with written warnings and another five resolved through statements of understanding. During a brief enforcement hearing, the commission found that a candidate violated state laws by failing to register as a candidate and failing to file a Financial Affairs (F-1) report within two weeks of declaring a candidacy. 

The candidate was assessed a penalty of $500, with $300 suspended, as long as the missing reports are filed within 30 days and no further violations arise within four years. 

As of Nov. 23, there were 53 active cases. Click on this link for details about enforcement cases.  

 

Amend partial Financial Affairs (F-1) filings now 

In the spring at the outset of the Covid-19 emergency, the PDC allowed filers to partially complete their Personal Financial Affairs (F-1) reports if they lacked access to financial records because of the emergency. 

While the state of emergency has continued, the PDC is asking an estimated 300 filers to either amend and complete their 2020 reports or provide an explanation about why they cannot. 

The partial filing option will not be available for reports due in 2021. 

 

Comments on proposed rules for foreign involvement in campaigns 

Commission members heard comments on proposed rules that would govern implementation of Substitute Senate Bill 6152 , passed by the Legislature in 2020. 

Written and oral public comment came from political parties, business and advocacy groups and others. 

The new law prohibits foreign national financing or involvement in campaign-related contribution or expenditure activity. The law also requires an entity to certify that any contribution it makes does not include any foreign national funding or involvement.  

The law is also the subject of litigation from individuals and groups alleging that it would interfere with the free speech rights of foreign nationals who are refugees, lawful temporary residents and others. 

The PDC adopted emergency rules that apply through February 2021. The proposed permanent rules would replace the emergency rules.  

The Commission plans to consider the permanent rules again at its Jan. 28 meeting. 

 

Commission regular meeting dates for 2021 

Jan. 28  

Feb. 25 

March 25 

April 22 

May 27 

June 24  

July 22 

Aug. 26 

Sept. 23 

Oct. 28 

Dec. 2 (Nov./Dec. meeting) 

 

All regular meetings begin at 9:30 a.m., unless a different time is noted on the agenda. Meetings are streamed live at https://www.youtube.com/user/WASTPDC/live