Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What is a Public Disclosure Commission Complaint?

"The public's right to know of the financing of political campaigns and lobbying and the financial affairs of elected officials and candidates far outweighs any right that these matters remain secret and private."

[RCW 42.17.010(10)] The above quotation is from the policy provisions of the Open Government Act, better known as the Public Disclosure Law, which aptly summarizes both the impetus for and the purpose of the statute.

History: (Excerpt from PDC site).

"The origin of Washington's disclosure law can be traced to the efforts of concerned citizens who came together in 1970 believing that the public had the right to know about the financing of political activity in this state. In 1971, following an unsuccessful attempt to generate legislative action and with minimal success in 1972, those concerned citizens who now call themselves the Coalition for Open Government (COG), turned to the people. In order to place Initiative 276 on the November 1972 ballot COG gathered nearly 163,000 signatures and done so in record-breaking time. 72 percent of voters approved Init 276 which then became law January 1, 1973. In 1992, to address contribution limits and other campaign restrictions reform-minded voters passed a comprehensive campaign in Washington State where over 72% of the voters supported reform. "

I have published copies of the Public Disclosure Commission Complaints filed by myself and Professor Todd Donovan so people can see for themselves what a complaint is about.

PDC filings are financial reports. PDC complaints are a citizen review of those financial reports. The purpose of the reports is to allow voters to independently determine if they want to support a political candidate after reviewing the sources of his/her funding.

It's just numbers folks.

And, I have to wonder why a simple financial audit of donations and expenditures would create the amount of outrage and anger among Pike supporters that it has? Why the name calling, labels and accusations of wrong doing? Why vandalism? Destruction of personal property? What is the real purpose behind these personal attacks?

Hundreds of PDC complaints have been filed by candidates, political party officers, elected officials and campaign supporters over the last 34 years. The filing of campaign-related complaints is deeply woven into the political fabric of this state and nation.

The majority of Washington Candidates respond to PDC complaint filings with grace and maturity.

Very few candidates lash out in anger claiming that they are a "victim" of the individual or organization that has filed the complaint. (Sure, a snide comment or two, but most candidates accept and understand that public disclosure review is part of the election process). The Public Disclosure Commission complaint system is a part of a carefully constructed system of checks and balances that is designed to provide all candidates with a level playing field.

The Public Disclosure Commission relies on citizen complaints to assist them in their efforts to ensure that campaigns are conducted according to the laws of the state of Washington.

I hope you find the enclosed Complaints interesting - I left out Tim Paxton's complaint because Sam Taylor has the link posted on his blogs.

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