June 01, 2022

Dr. Umair Shah, state Secretary of Health, asked for reconsideration of his request made at the April 28, 2022 Commission meeting. He asked for an exemption from disclosing his residential address on his Personal Financial Affairs (F-1) statement.

The April request was denied, with the Commission citing a lack of information about specific threats to Shah. But the Commission urged him to ask for a reconsideration if he could identify a specific threat to him, rather than to public health officials in general.

Shah returned with a reconsideration request and more information. The Commission heard Shah’s request in a closed session, at his request.

After hearing the additional information, the Commission granted Shah’s request for the exemption saying he had demonstrated a specific and serious personal safety concern. The Commission also decided to include information gathered in the closed session as part of the public record.

The Commission also granted reporting modifications to three others: Christopher Jordan, candidate for Spokane County Commissioner; Norma Rodriguez, Benton County Superior Court Judge; and Joseph Evans, Pierce County Superior Court Judge.

Enforcement hearings

The Commission issued fines after conducting six enforcement hearings focused on elected officials who failed to file Personal Financial Affairs (F-1) statements on time.

Commissioners levied the maximum fine of $10,000 on William (Beau) Burkett, mayor of Buckley, for failure to file a report for 2021. The Commission agreed to suspend $4,000 of that penalty if Burkett files that report and other past due reports within 30 days, and makes arrangements to pay outstanding fines. Burkett has six prior fines totaling $3,850 for previous violations, with no payment as of the date of the hearing.

Charla Neuman, Sumner City Council member, was fined was fined $2,000 for failing to file reports on time for 2020 and 2021. Neuman was previously fined $250 for failure to file a report for 2019, but has not filed that report or paid the penalty.

Jerry Lord, Chehalis City Council member, was fined $750 for failing to file reports on time for 2020 and 2021. Lord did file those reports before the hearing, but is still working on a delinquent report for 2019. Lord was previously fined $250 for that missing report.

Jessie Deardorff, Ferndale School Board member, was fined $2,000 for failing to file reports for 2020 and 2021. Deardorff was previously fined $250 for failing to file a report for 2019. That penalty was paid, but the report was not filed.

Jesse Campos, Pasco School Board member, was fined $500 for failing to file reports on time for 2020 and 2021. Campos filed those reports, but filed them late. Campos was previously fined $250 for a missing report for 2019.

Jerrall Haynes, a former Spokane School Board member, was fined $3,000 for failing to file reports on time for 2020 and 2021. Haynes had two previous fines for delinquent reports, $1,000 for a 2019 report and $100 for a 2017 report. The 2017 report was filed and the penalty paid.

Petition for advisory committee

Commissioners heard from supporters of a petition asking for the PDC to adopt rules establishing a formal stakeholder advisory committee.

A letter signed by 19 individuals asked the Commission to broaden input on policy matters beyond accepting written and verbal comments at its meetings. They want the Commission to engage in longer, two-way conversations on regulatory issues and agency-proposed legislation.

Commissioners asked their attorney to research whether state statutes authorize them to create such a committee. They also questioned whether an informal body would be a more flexible approach to answering the concern.

The Commission has until late June to respond to the petition.

Changing of the guard

The Commission wished Chip Beatty a happy retirement, following his 18 years at the PDC, most recently as the customer service and outreach director. He was well known to campaigns as a go-to source for guidance on PDC reporting requirements and an advocate for the public’s right to political disclosure. He also was generous with his time, always willing to share the knowledge he’s gained from working in many different positions within the agency.

The Commission welcomed Kendra Hodgson to Beatty’s former position. She comes from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, where she was the Cannabis Examiner Manager since 2018. Her work there included overseeing a team that supports licensees and vendors, interpreting laws and regulations, and serving as a business owner on major IT projects. Prior to that, she worked for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and at the state Employment Security Department.

Enforcement stats

As of May 19, 2022, PDC staff had 34 active cases based on complaints from the public, and 27 active cases based on complaints filed by PDC staff. Six of the 27 staff-generated cases were heard at this meeting.

Between April 19 and May 19, PDC staff closed 10 cases based on complaints from the public and 56 based on complaints filed by PDC staff.

Next regular Commission meeting: June 23, 2022.