The Public Disclosure Commission is beginning to set hearings for complaints filed in the fall of 2007.
Not many readers understand the role the PDC plays in regulating campaign activity, so I am posting a copy of a past PDC Stipulation and Order to help readers understand the Public Disclosure Commission's role in the decision making process.
This is a copy of a Stipulation and Order regarding a PDC Complaint filed against one of my former employers, State Representative Jim Dunn from the 17th Legislative District.
Representative Dunn allegedly used his legislative website and e-mail address in the voter's phamphlet, triggering a PDC Complaint in 2006.
COMPLAINT 2006 – NO. 6
In Re Dunn
STIPULATION AND ORDER
I. Nature of the Complaint
The Complaint alleges that Representative Jim Dunn, a candidate for re-election from the 17th Legislative District, submitted as his campaign contact in the Clark County Voter Guide Pamphlet a web site which was in fact his legislative web site. It is alleged that this use of the legislative web site is a violation of the Ethics in Public Service Law (Act), RCW 42.52.180.
II. Procedural History
The Complaint was received by the Board on August 28, 2006. An investigation was
conducted pursuant to RCW 42.52.420 and the Board discussed the results of the
investigation at a regularly scheduled meeting on September 21.
The Complaint alleges a legislator’s use of a public resource, a legislative web site, to assist a campaign for election to legislative office. The Board has both personal and subject-matter jurisdiction.
IV. Determinations of Fact
1. Rep. Dunn is a candidate for election in the 17th Legislative District and submitted a short statement with campaign contact information for the Clark County Voter Guide. The contact information read as follows: Address: Friends for Jim Dunn, 13215 C8 SE Mill Plain Blvd 362, Vancouver 98684; Telephone: (360) 256-1405; E-mail: StateRep@JimDunn.com; Web site:http://www.jimdunn.ws/
2. The physical address listed in the voter’s guide is Rep. Dunn’s home address. The
e mail address is a non-legislative e mail address and the "web site" is a pointer to
Rep. Dunn’s legislative web site.
3. The Clark County Elections Office advised that the voter’s guide was placed on-line on August 16 and was mailed the week of August 28.
4. From August 16 until September 5 the use of www.JimDunn.ws would directly
connect the user to the Representative’s legislative web site. Rep. Dunn "redirected"
this address/pointer to his campaign web site on or about September 5 after being
notified of the complaint.
5. Rep. Dunn’s legislative web site has an e-mail function allowing visitors to the site to contact him. Incoming and outgoing e mails from this site were obtained and
reviewed. The time frame for this review was from August 16, the day Clark County
election officials advised the voter’s guide went on-line, to September 5 when the
pointer was redirected to the Representative’s campaign web site. No campaign emails
6. Rep. Dunn describes the use of his legislative web site as a campaign contact,
through the use of "pointer" www.JimDunn.ws, as unintentional.
V. Determinations of Law
1. RCW 42.52.180 prohibits a legislator from using or authorizing the use of facilities of the legislature, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of a person to an office or for the promotion of or opposition to a ballot proposition. "Facilities of an agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationery, postage, machines, and equipment, use of state employees of the agency during working hours, vehicles, office space publications of the agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the agency" (emphasis added).
2. RCW 42.52.180 is violated if a legislator (a) uses the legislature’s toll free hotline number in campaign mailings (Complaint Opinion 2001-No.5); (b) uses his/her
legislative address or phone number in campaign mailings even if the mailings
contain a warning that the address and phone number should only be used for
legislative business (Complaint Opinion 2002-No.5); or (c) uses his/her legislative
e-mail address as a campaign contact (Complaint Opinion 2004-No.3).
3. Utilization of a "pointer" which invites and directs others to use that avenue of
communication for campaign contact and which, when used, connects the user to a
legislative web site, is in reality no different than providing the legislative web site as a campaign contact.
VI. Summary and Order
Although no campaign e mails were discovered on the legislative web site during the time it was available as a campaign contact, and Rep. Dunn did re-direct the pointer to his campaign web site when the matter was formally brought to his attention, it was the Representative’s responsibility to insure that his campaign contact information did not include the use of his legislative web site.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Rep. Dunn has violated
RCW 42.52.180 and shall be penalized by a letter of instruction and this Order is served on him as the letter of instruction.
Wayne Ehlers, Chair
I, Jim Dunn, have had the option of reviewing this Stipulation and Order with legal counsel, or have actually reviewed it with legal counsel, fully understand its legal significance and have voluntarily signed it as a resolution of this matter.