February 2, 2017

The Public Disclosure Commission is seeking public comment on a **draft** interpretation regarding Seattle Democracy Vouchers.

Background:

In November 2015, Seattle voters approved I-222, which, among other things, adopted a Democracy Voucher Program to be administered by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC).  Under the Democracy Voucher Program, eligible Seattle residents will receive four $25 campaign contribution vouchers, and residents may give one or more voucher to any eligible candidate.  Candidates who qualify to participate in the program will be able to convert each $25.00 voucher into a $25.00 campaign contribution and may use the money to finance selected campaign activities.

A Seattle resident wishing to contribute a voucher to a candidate has three options to assign his or her voucher.  The resident may deliver the complete voucher to: (1) the candidate; (2) the SEEC; or (3) to a candidate’s registered representative.  A resident, or the candidate’s representative, may deliver the voucher by mail, in person, or electronically by a secure SEEC online portal.

SEEC Request for Guidance:

The SEEC asked the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) to consider:

  • Whether Democracy Vouchers are contributions, and subject to the rules applicable to contributions? and
  • Whether the “bundling” provisions of RCW 42.17A apply to the bundling of Democracy Vouchers?

Read the PDC Staff analysis and Commissioner comments from the January 26th, 2017 commission meeting.

Read and comment on the Draft Interpretation which will be discussed at the February 23rd, 2017 commission meeting.

 

November 22, 2016

In 2014, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) found the Food Democracy Action! (FDA) and Food Democracy Action! Yes on I-522 (FDA-WA State PAC) had committed multiple apparent violations of RCW 42.17A and referred the matter to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office for appropriate action.

November 21, 2016, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor ruled that as a result of their violations of state campaign finance disclosure laws, Food Democracy Action! (FDA) must pay a $319,281 penalty (for concealment and late reporting), $2,895.16 in investigation costs, plus attorney fees and trial costs to be determined separately.

Anne Levinson, chair of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission stated, “The PDC was created by the public to ensure compliance with our state’s campaign finance disclosure laws. We will vigorously enforce the laws through investigations and litigation whenever there is any attempt to inappropriately influence our elections. Tactics such as these designed to disguise donors and keep the public in the dark will not be tolerated.”

This is one of two campaign finance disclosure cases related to I-522. Earlier this month, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association was ordered to pay $18 million in penalties and damages for its systematic effort to conceal the sources of $11 million in contributions to oppose I-522.

The PDC is pleased to see the work of the Commission is preserving the integrity of Washington elections and the transparency that the citizens of Washington worked so hard to achieve.

November 3, 2016

The Grocery Manufacturers Association was ordered to pay $18 million, the largest campaign finance penalty in US history. 

Anne Levinson, chair of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, which enforces our state’s campaign expenditure and disclosure laws, praised the decision: “The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the integrity of elections in our state. The PDC and the Attorney General will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action whenever there is an attempt to conceal campaign donors.”

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) was created and empowered by Initiative of the People to ensure compliance with and equitable enforcement of Washington's disclosure and campaign finance laws. PDC Executive Director Evelyn Fielding Lopez added, “If you are going to engage in politics in Washington, you need to play by Washington’s rules”

More information is available in the Thurston County Superior Court ruling and news release from the Washington State Office of The Attorney General.

 

July 1, 2016

On June 30, the Public Disclosure Commission released a new online reporting system for lobbyists and their employers.  The new system is a component of the PDC's phased plan to modernize its online presence and provide timelier and more robust public access to information about who lobbies state government, what issues are lobbied, and how much is spent on those efforts.  

The new system replaces legacy software that was costly to maintain and difficult to support.  Many efilers had simply given up using the old system an reverted to manually filing reports.  The new system was developed by PDC staff and incorporates suggestions offered by people who file reports.  Additionally, the PDC assembled a group of volunteers who, for the last six months, have met every two weeks to review the development team's progress and help design the application.  The PDC believes this input will be critical to the success of the new system.  Lobbyists are not required to efile disclosure reports, but the PDC encourages efiling because it means more timely access to the information.

The Public Disclosure Commission was created and empowered by voter-approved Initiative 276 to provide timely and meaningful public access to accurate information about the financing of political campaigns, lobbyist expenditures, and the financial affairs of public officials and candidates and to ensure compliance with and equitable enforcement of Washington’s disclosure and campaign finance laws.

June 23, 2016

Judge Anne Levinson (ret.) of Seattle and Judge John Bridges (ret.) of Malaga were elected Chair and Vice-Chair of the Public Disclosure Commission, effective July 1.  The Chair is chosen annually by fellow commissioners, and presides over commission meetings and enforcement matters.

“As Chair, I want to ensure the PDC continually works to provide timelier and more robust public access to campaign finance information, resolve complaints more quickly, and strengthen enforcement,” stated Levinson.       

Levinson was appointed to the Commission by Governor Inslee in December 2014 and has served as Vice-Chair since June 2015.  A respected policy advisor, Commissioner Levinson also co-chairs Governor Inslee’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families, provides independent review of Seattle’s police accountability system, and advises courts on system reform.  She formerly served as a municipal mental health court judge, as the Chair of the State's Utilities & Transportation Commission, and in several roles for the City of Seattle, including Legal Counsel, Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Mayor Norm Rice.  Before joining the Commission, Levinson has chaired or advised a number of statewide ballot measure campaigns.

Commissioner Bridges retired from the judiciary in 2013 after serving 24 years on the Chelan County Superior Court bench and was appointed to the Commission in January 2015.  During his time on the bench, Commissioner Bridges presided over several election cases and a wide range of trials.

The Public Disclosure Commission was created and empowered by voter-approved Initiative 276 to provide timely and meaningful public access to accurate information about the financing of political campaigns, lobbyist expenditures, and the financial affairs of public officials and candidates and to ensure compliance with and equitable enforcement of Washington’s disclosure and campaign finance laws.

April 11, 2016

The Public Disclosure Commission on April 11 launched a new website that supports its mission to provide timely and meaningful public access to accurate information.  Replacing the website is the first phase of on ongoing project to overhaul and modernize the PDC's online presence.

"Users told us what they wanted and we analyzed past website traffic to better understand their needs," stated Evelyn Fielding Lopez, Executive Director.  "The new website incorporates new features such as a prominent display of newly registered candidates on the homepage, and reorganizes existing features to put the most used services front and center.  The website uses the Drupal content management system, which gives us the flexibility to easily change and rearrange content as users' needs change and, most importantly, it works well on mobile devices."

The next project phase will focus on improving the online database search applications.

The Public Disclosure Commission was created by voter approval of Initiative 276 in 1972.  I-276 was a groundbreaking effort to make government more transparent and allow the public to "follow the money" through campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure.

September 22, 2015

The Public Disclosure Commission has appointed Tacoma attorney Evelyn Fielding Lopez to the position of Executive Director, effective October 1, 2015.

A former assistant attorney general, Lopez served in various management roles in the Attorney General’s Office, most recently as the Chief of the AGO’s Labor & Industries Division from 2005 to 2014.

“Ms. Lopez brings to the Commission an ideal mix of proven strategic and visionary leadership, a history of collaboration, and integrity,” stated Katrina Asay, Commission chair.

“This is a pivotal time for the PDC,” said Asay.  “The Legislature has given the Commission the resources it needs to replace outdated filing software, develop a better website, and make other overdue upgrades.  The Commission and staff are committed to eliminating backlogs and resolving new complaints more quickly.  Evelyn will provide the unifying and decisive leadership needed to keep the positive momentum going and carry out the Commission’s mission of providing timely and meaningful public access to accurate information about campaign finances, lobbying expenditures, and the personal financial affairs of government officials as well as ensuring compliance with and equitable enforcement of Washington’s disclosure and campaign finance laws.”

A native of New Zealand, Lopez is a member of the Ngati Huri of the Ngati Raukawa (Maori), Pititu Marae.  She holds a law degree from the University of Washington.

The Public Disclosure Commission was created and empowered by voter-approved Initiative 276 to provide timely and meaningful public access to accurate information about the financing of political campaigns, lobbyist expenditures, and the financial affairs of public officials and candidates and to ensure compliance with and equitable enforcement of Washington’s disclosure and campaign finance laws.

May 26, 2015

The Public Disclosure Commission has appointed Fred Kiga interim executive director to replace Andrea McNamara Doyle who has resigned, effective June 1.

“We appreciate Fred’s willingness to step in and lead the agency while the commission recruits a new, permanent executive director,” said Grant Degginger, Commission Chair.  "Fred's extensive knowledge of state government and his many years of experience leading teams in both the public and private sectors will help make the transition in leadership as smooth as possible."

Mr. Kiga was most recently Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for Vigor Industrial, until the company relocated all headquarter functions out of state.  He has also held executive management positions at Amazon.com, The Boeing Company, and Russell Investment Group.  Mr. Kiga served in senior positions as a member of Governor Gary Locke’s administration from 1997 through 2003.  As the Director of the Department of Revenue, he led the agency through technology initiatives, including development of the nation’s first internet tax filing system and a web-based sales tax geographic information system.  Mr. Kiga was responsible for the oversight of all government operations, including strategic planning, policy development, budgeting, and operations, as the Governor’s chief of staff.

Mr. Kiga holds Juris Doctor and MBA degrees from the University of Washington.

The Commission’s departing executive director, Andrea McNamara Doyle, will work through the end of May and then continue in an advisory role through June to effectuate a smooth transition.

The Public Disclosure Commission was created and empowered by voter-approved Initiative 276 to provide timely and meaningful public access to accurate information about the financing of political campaigns, lobbyist expenditures, and the financial affairs of public officials and candidates and to ensure compliance with and equitable enforcement of Washington’s disclosure and campaign finance laws.

April 8, 2015

Andrea McNamara Doyle, Executive Director of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, has announced her resignation, effective May 31, 2015. 

 “I would like to thank Andrea for her excellent leadership,” said Grant Degginger, Chair of the Public Disclosure Commission.  “Under her management, the Commission has continued to fulfill its mission with fewer resources while at the same time developing an innovative plan to improve customer service through strategic investments in new technology.  She has inspired innovation throughout the agency.”

Ms. Doyle was appointed Executive Director in August 2011.   “I am proud of my efforts to guide the agency through a prolonged and difficult period of downsizing.  Together with a strong, committed Commission and a small but dedicated staff, we have addressed myriad challenges posed by antiquated technology, continuous growth in campaign spending and the related increase in complaints about illegal campaign activity, repeated attacks on the fundamental principles underpinning our state’s award-winning disclosure system, and the understandable frustration of the voting public whose trust and confidence in the political process is being tested on many levels,” stated Ms. Doyle.  “As a result of our work over the past 3-1/2 years, the agency is now well positioned to make meaningful progress when additional resources become available to support the Commission’s urgent technology needs.”

The Commission will meet later this week to discuss options for recruiting a new executive director and interim agency management.

April 8, 2015

Retired judges John Bridges and Anne Levinson were recently appointed by Governor Inslee to the Public Disclosure Commission.  PDC Chairman Grant Degginger announced the appointments during the December 4 Commission meeting, saying “We are excited for the opportunity to welcome two new commissioners.  John Bridges and Anne Levinson are exceptionally well-qualified additions and we look forward to working with both of them.” 

Governor Inslee commented, “This can be a difficult job, but I know both John and Anne bring a judicial perspective that will be valuable to the Commission.  Though they have different backgrounds and come from different sides of the Cascades, both bring reputations that are beyond reproach and skills that will serve the voters of Washington well.”

Judge Bridges retired from the judiciary in 2013 after 24 years on the Chelan County Superior Court bench.  He received numerous awards while in office, including Washington State Bar Association’s Family Law Judge of the year and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association’s Judge of the Year.  In 2007, the Washington Judges Foundation recognized Judge Bridges for his service in public legal education. 

Commissioner Bridges’ appointment takes effect today with a term end date of December 31, 2018.  He succeeds Barry Sehlin, whose term expired at the end of 2013.

Before her appointment to the Seattle Municipal Court, Anne Levinson chaired the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commissioner and served as deputy mayor for the City of Seattle.    After retiring from the bench, Judge Levinson helped create a new community-based agency to lead reform in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.  She also serves as an independent advisor to the City of Seattle to review administrative police misconduct investigations to ensure their thoroughness and objectivity and to recommend policy, training or system reforms related to police practices.

Levinson succeeds Kathy Turner and will join the Commission January 1, 2015.

The Public Disclosure Commission was created by voter approval of Initiative 276 in 1972.  I-276 was a groundbreaking effort to make government more transparent and allow the public to “follow the money” through campaign finance and lobbyist disclosure.

May 17, 2012

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission today added lobbying data to its online searchable database. 

Lobbyist disclosure was enacted through the passage of I-276 in 1972.  Paid lobbyists register with the Public Disclosure Commission before lobbying state government and file monthly reports disclosing their compensation, entertainment expenses, campaign contributions given, and other lobbying-related expenditures.  State and local public agencies disclose their lobbying-related expenses on quarterly reports.

The new feature gives the better access to private sector and public agency lobbying data, including the ability to perform custom searches.  Enhanced features include:

  • Immediate access to Lobbying totals for private lobbyists, their employers and public agencies who lobby.
  • The ability to “drill down” into the detailed information of private lobbyists and their expenses, compensation and other reported expenditures.
  • Access to government contractor lobbyist data.
  • The ability to look at lobbying expenses by category or employer as reported on the L2’s.
  • The ability to look at lobbying expenses as reported by the employers in the annual L3’s.
  • The ability to look at public agency lobbying by either individual agency, legislature view or contracts view.
  • The ability to save as PDF, export to Excel, Subscribe via RSS, review a glossary of terms and read how to use the system in a comprehensive help file for any of the query system areas.
  • The ability to link to any of your favorite social media services for that particular webpage view with the click of a button using the AddThis toolbar.
  • New Advanced Search capabilities of all three lobbying categories.
  • New Advanced Search capabilities to save as PDF, export to Excel, Subscribe via RSS, review a glossary of terms and read how to use the system in a comprehensive help file as well as linking to favorite social media services with the click of a button using the AddThis.

Take the survey
The Public Disclosure Commission has been actively working to improve access to disclosure data. You can help by taking a quick, 5 minute survey to help us understand how you utilize our current search tools.

This work is part of the PDC's Next Generation Data Access Project which recently resulted in the publishing of 5 million records on the Washington State Open Data Portal.

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