Sunday, March 23, 2008

Washington State Public Disclosure Commission Announces a Third Formal Investigation into Mayor Dan Pike's Campaign Activities

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission issued a letter on March 22nd formally announcing the Commission's intention to open a third formal investigation into Dan Pike's campaign activities.

The new complaint alleges that former Transportation Director, Dan Pike, used Skagit Council of Government facilities for political activity during his bid for Mayor of Bellingham campaign. The complaint alleges that a minimum of ten months of campaign related e-mail was sent to campaign supporters and to the Pike for Mayor Campaign from Mr. Pike's Skagit Council of Government e-mail account.

Tim Paxton, a resident of Bellingham filed the complaint in February, after a protracted struggle with Skagit Council of Governments for Mr. Pike's e-mail and web surfing records through a public disclosure request. Mr. Paxton received two separate disks of e-mail and a stack of printed e-mail over a two month period. But many of Pike's printed e-mail were redacted (blacked out) by Skagit Council government's (SCOG) attorney.

SCOG refused to fill Mr. Paxton's web surfing public disclosure request. In response, Mr. Paxton wrote the Attorney General and the Attorney General's Office issued a letter ordering SCOG to comply with the request as required by state law. At one point, SCOG attempted to charge Mr. Paxton $2,000 dollars for a copy of a record the Attorney General's Office reported only

costs pennies to produce.

Paxton is still fighting to obtain a copy of Mr. Pike's web surfing records. The Center for Justice, a Washington State non-profit Legal Association in Spokane has recently filed a public disclosure request with SCOG for web surfing records.The Center for Justice has a distinguished record of filing lawsuits against public agencies that do not comply with public disclosure or open meeting act laws.

Paxton requested a 45 day response from the PDC, as provided by law, but the PDC issued a statement to the state Attorney General's Office that the agency will not be able to comply with the request, due to the complexity and volume of Pike campaign complaints currently under investigation.

At the federal level, the Federal Election Commission is formally investigating a complaint filed by Todd Donovan that alleges Dan Pike accepted foreign campaign donations, in violation of Federal Election Law.

A second federal complaint was recently filed under the Hatch Act. The individual who submitted the complaint tells Latte Republic that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel is conducting a preliminary investigation to determine if the federal government will file a formal complaint against Mr. Pike. The Hatch Act complaint alleges that Mr. Pike used his Skagit Council of Government office to conduct prohibited political activity during his campaign for Mayor of Bellingham. The complaint also alleges that Mr. Pike's campaign was illegal from June 13, 2007 forward, and that Pike was not eligible to be a candidate for Mayor under the state and local employee provisions of the Federal Hatch Act.

Mr. Pike and Brett Bonner, a local KGMI radio talk show host, launched a three week media blitz to convince Bellingham Voters (who were actively voting) that the first complaint was nothing more than a dirty McShane campaign stunt. (The first PDC complaint against Dan Pike was filed by me in late October of 2007).

In what appeared to be an effort to humiliate, ridicule and embarass me, Bonner launched a series of personal attacks against me on his radio programs (which are summarized in a spiteful letter he posted to me on his KGMI blogs). His boisterous attacks include an unsupported allegation that I had violated federal campaign law when I served as treasurer for the Healthy Bay Initiative.

A second PDC complaint was filed by WWU Professor Todd Donovan in November of 2007. Donovan's complaint, in part, alleges that the Washington State Realtors provided significant financial support for the Pike campaign that was not reported to the PDC or members of the public. In the complaint, Donovan alleges that up to 54% of Mr. Pike's donations/expenditures may have been hidden from the public while votes were being cast. Professor Donovan is a statistician and internationally respected scholar on elections, campaigns and politics.

The Public Disclosure Commission opened an independent investigation to examine the in-kind/independent expenditure activities of the Washington Realtor's Association based on Donovan's complaint.

The PDC was in Bellingham two weeks ago to interview Mr. Pike and two other candidates who received financial support from the state Realtor's Association. Only one Candidate, Larry Farr, reported the Realtor's in-kind expenditures as required by law.

Meanwhile, I have been called a bitter, angry woman for filing the first complaint back in October of 2007.

If filing a complaint against a candidate for allegedly breaking campaign laws results in me being called a bitter, angry woman by members of this community, so be it.

I'll wear that label proudly

It's nice to know that future candidates will think twice before they ignore local, state and federal campaign laws.

The Center for Justice website is located at:

Latte Republic will publish copies of the PDC complaints later in the week.

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