Friday, May 23, 2008

My faith in the PDC is Shattered

Please note that I had every intention of attending today's hearing, but yesterday, at 6 PM, I received a telephone call from Kurt Young, a PDC Compliance Officer, informing me that I would not be able to observe the hearings (Bornemann and Pike) nor would I be allowed to listen to the hearings on the telephone.

I have requested clarification regarding the PDC hearing process from the Governor's Office. I needed to attend the hearings in order to rebuild my faith and confidence in the PDC process.

A public office is a public trust that should be free from the danger of conflict of interest.”

The drafters of the Public Disclosure Act declare “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is good for them not to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments they have created.”

We all share the goal of ensuring that state and local government and political campaign reporting remain open, transparent and accountable to the people.

The Public Disclosure Commission has a duty to establish public confidence that each individual has the ability to access records needed to help him or her understand the source of ALL funds during an election. This right is codified in statute 42.17.010.(10): "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."

I hope today’s PDC decision reflects the people’s desire that all elections are accountable, fair and transparent.

The Public Disclosure Commission was created by Initiative of the People to provide timely and meaningful public access to information about the financing of political campaigns.

I regret that the Public Disclosure Commission came under fire during this investigation, but PDC personnel have an obligation to remain impartial and not tip the balance of an investigation by attempting to stonewall citizens who are filing legitimate complaints under sunshine laws.

My faith in the Public Disclosure system was badly damaged by Randy Unruh's attempt to dismiss my complaint without fully investigating it, or allowing other staff members to review it, before he sent an e-mail to the Pike campaign stating that he was preparing a memo recommending dismissal of the complaint.

The fact that Mr. Pike would choose to release the e-mail to the media is reprehensible; and, in my opinion, demonstrates Mr. Pike's blatant lack of respect for public process and the rights of others to avail themselves of legal remedies provided by law.

I’m deeply saddened that my faith in the Public Disclosure Commission has been shattered by this experience.


In regards to Todd Donovan's complaint about the Realtors: The Realtor's Quality of Life PAC in-kind donations of $56,650 to three local candidates during the final phase of the election cycle raise important questions that I hope will be addressed during the PDC or the Attorney General's Office investigation.

1. When a potential major violation is revealed, does the PDC have the authority to issue a "stop order" to prevent a major violation from occuring? If not, who does?

2. If the PDC discovered that the RQL PAC donations were in fact in-kind contributions on October 19th, why didn't they inform candidates Pike and Crawford that they needed to report the donations within the time limit set by law?

3. Why wasn't the Pike campaign volunteer who coordinated the Realtor mailers with Chad Minnick interviewed during the investigation? Did Ms. Mookherjee call the PDC when she discovered the chain of e-mails between a campaign volunteer and Chad Minnick? Did she ask the volunteer about the work she/he was doing? I find it difficult to believe a campaign manager could be that out of touch with the day to day operations of a campaign.

4. What is the process for measuring the effects of illegal contributions on the outcome of an election? Does such a process exist? Does the PDC/AG office use it?

I sincerely hope the state will take steps to rebuild public confidence in the political process and government by addressing some of these issues.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the State of Washington set the standard in this nation regarding accountability and transparency in political campaigns.

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