Fred Jarrett presided over his first Commission meeting as chair. Jarrett joined the Commission in 2019, following a long career of public service as Mercer Island mayor, state senator and representative and senior deputy county executive in King County.
Spokane attorney Nancy Isserlis, who joined the PDC in 2020, is the Commission’s new vice chair.
The Commission voted to adopt permanent rules governing requirements for the Personal Financial Affairs (F-1) statements required from elected and appointed officials.
The new rules clarify reporting periods, the definition of direct financial interests and who qualifies as an officer of an entity. They also update the timeline for filers to submit requests for exemptions to reporting requirements and provide greater specificity regarding confidential relationships that might qualify to not be reported.
PDC staff closed 36 compliance cases during the period between Nov. 24, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021.
As of Jan. 28, 2021, 24 active cases remained – the lowest number in more than five years. Staff anticipated closing several of those cases soon.
Deputy PDC Director BG Sandahl told Commission members that complaints filed with the PDC trended downward in 2020 – a trend that follows previous even-numbered election years.
Campaigns in those years, which largely feature races for state-level positions, are often run by professionals who have experience with campaign finance statutes and PDC rules, Sandahl said. The pandemic, which curtailed some kinds of campaign activity, may have also played a role, she added.
Staff anticipates an uptick in complaints this year, when local campaigns will dominate. Local races generate a greater number of candidates as well as more first-time candidates.
Read enforcement case files on the PDC website.
The Commission voted to extend the time period covered by previously adopted emergency rules implementing Substitute Senate Bill 6152, legislation regarding foreign involvement and financing in campaign activities. The law went into effect in June 2020.
The emergency rules, adopted in 2020 and set to expire in February, were extended for 120 days. In the interim, the Commission will continue to work on permanent rules.
PDC Commission and staff members continue to study how to improve disclosure of information about digital political advertising and access for the public.
One concept under review would have commercial advertisers who accept Washington state political ads register with the PDC and receive a vendor identification number. When a campaign purchases an ad from one of these advertisers, it would receive a code that is a combination of the vendor number and a tag associated with the ad. That code would be reported in campaign finance reports, thus allowing the public to match expenditure data with advertisers and with specific ads.
PDC staff are continuing conversations with campaign and advertising professionals to determine the technical aspects of how such a system could work.
Next Commission meeting: Feb. 25, 2021