Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund: Alleged violation of RCW 42.17A.320 for failure to include sponsor ID on written political advertising (EY 18; Nov 18)




Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund


Bret Uhrich


The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) has completed its review of the complaint filed by Bret Uhrich on November 6, 2018. The complaint alleged that WA Conservation Voters Action Fund may have violated RCW 42.17A.320 for failure to accurately and completely disclose sponsor identification on text message based political advertising. 

PDC staff reviewed your allegations; the applicable statutes, rules, and reporting requirements; the response provided by WA Conservation Voters Action Fund; and PDC guidance concerning sponsor identification for text messages issued October 13, 2018, to determine whether the record supports a finding of one or more violations.

The guidance that WA Conservation Voters Action Fund cited in their response to the allegations states, “[s]ince some phones receiving the text will not be able to follow a link, we suggest campaigns include, in addition to a web address, mechanisms that allow the recipients to request sponsor ID information. Sponsors should make that process as easy as possible, perhaps by allowing the recipient to reply with a single character that then prompts another text message with the sponsor ID information. The message would look something like this: ‘Go to www.xyzcommittee.com or text * for sponsor information.’”] 

Based on these findings staff has determined that, in this instance, failure to provide an adequate avenue for voters to receive sponsor identification without connection to the Internet does not amount to an actual violation warranting further investigation. 

Pursuant to WAC 390-37-060(1)(b), WA Conservation Voters Action Fund will receive a formal written warning concerning failure to provide an adequate avenue for voters to receive sponsor identification without connection to the Internet. The formal written warning will include staff’s expectation that WA Conservation Voters Action Fund provides a mechanism in future political advertising for non-Internet capable devices to access the required sponsor identification disclosures quickly and easily. The Commission will consider the formal written warning in deciding on further Commission action if there are future violations of PDC laws or rules. 

Based on this information, the PDC finds that no further action is warranted and has dismissed this matter in accordance with RCW 42.17A.755(1).


Case Closed with Written Warning

Date Opened

November 13, 2018

Areas of Law

Areas of law not found

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