Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Negative Campaign Ads

"Gotcha! journalism might be entertaining television, but I don't believe it's sound journalism. It's hypocrisy at its best." Angelo Persichilli, The Hill Times.

Are negative campaign ads harmful to the democratic process? Do voters tune out the moment campaigns go negative?

Political Scientist Kenneth Goldstein, UW-Madison, says no. He argues that negative campaign ads like the one posted below actually benefit voters by presenting factual distinctions between candidates.

Goldstein claims that attack ads and hit pieces are "a kind of mult-vitamin for the democratic process, sparking voters' interest and participation."

"There's this gut reaction that if a political advertisement is negative, it must have a deleterious affect on American politics," says Goldstein. "Contrary to conventional wisdom, the more that people are exposed to negative advertising, the more they know, the more engaged they are and the more likely they are to vote." (Quote taken from an article by Dennis Chaptman, 1/2008, published in the University of Wisconsin-Madison News).

Chaptman includes several examples of ads, (both positive and negative for readers to review). http://www.news.wisc.edu/14606

Closer to home, a Washington State Organization, called FUSE -- sent out the following e-mail on Tuesday to announce that it has launched a campaign blitz against Dino Rossi called "Buildergate."

**Please note that a Thurston County Superior Court Judge ruled last week that the BIAW can use Return on Industrial Insurance (ROII) profits to support campaigns during the 2008 election cycle. Additional information about the case can be found in an article published by The Olympian. http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/598389.html

**Rob McKenna, Washington State Attorney General, recently filed two lawsuits against the builders for not reporting the funds, as required by Public Disclosure law. The press release can be located here: http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&id=21004

Here's the electronic press release from FUSE.

"New evidence released today clearly proves that Dino Rossi played an important role in the illegal BIAW fundraising campaign now being prosecuted by the Attorney General. In fact, Rossi was the only collaborator in the illegal fundraising scheme who was not a senior officer of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW)."'Buildergate' is a major scandal for Dino Rossi - the facts clearly show he played an important role in an illegal fundraising campaign orchestrated by an ultraconservative trade association of powerful developers to support his run for governor," said Aaron Ostrom, Executive Director of Fuse. "And this may only be the tip of the iceberg." Fuse is calling for the immediate appointment of a Special Prosecutor to fully investigate Dino Rossi's role in this fundraising scandal. The clear documentation of Dino Rossi's direct and active participation in the BIAW's illegal fundraising campaign makes it extremely important that the public have access to the full information about his role in the dealings as soon as possible. Fuse was created to fight for the power of ordinary people in politics, and against the corrupting influence of wealthy and powerful special interests. We all need to know the entire story about the BIAW's collaboration with Dino Rossi. Please sign our petition to the Attorney General, and review the full facts about this situation.

Two weeks ago the Chair of the State Public Disclosure Commission found that the participants in this illegal activity reached a "meeting of the minds" and demonstrated an "egregious lack of judgment." What he didn't know at that time was that the participants in this illegal activity included Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Dino Rossi.The evidence clearly shows that Dino Rossi contacted all of the top officers of at least one BIAW chapter, urging them to contribute to the BIAW's war chest for the Governor's race - blatantly known to BIAW members as their "Fund for Rossi." These calls were part of an illegal fundraising campaign that is now being prosecuted by the Attorney General.The facts of the Buildergate fundraising scandal, including all of the claims in this email, are clearly outlined and documented on our website. The website includes additional information about the BIAW's financial and legislative relationship with Dino Rossi over the years.Click on this link to sign our petition to the Attorney General, and to review the full facts about this situation.

More information about FUSE can be found here: http://www.fusewashington.org/page/s/buildergate

The flip side --

"Voters tuning out from soap opera election coverage", by By Angelo Persichilli, The Hill Times. http://www.thehilltimes.ca/members/login.php?fail=2&destination=/html/index.php?display=story&full_path=2008/september/22/backrooms/&c=2

"All News fit to Smear" by Andrea Peyser, of the New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/seven/02222008/news/columnists/all_news_fit_to_smear_98809.htm

Time to clean House -- or, $1.2 Trillion lost in yesterday's Stock Market Crash

“This is really a failure, at a massive level, of the political system,” said Mark Gertler, an economics professor at New York University.

In an MSNBC article by Allison Linn, "Brian Bethune, U.S. economist with Global Insight, faults government officials for using opaque terms like “downside risk to growth” to explain the problems, instead of using blunter, more obvious terms that people can understand, like “recession.” He also thinks the government hasn’t been forthright enough about how other problems, such as high oil prices, are adding to the country’s financial woes."

“They’re not communicating clearly … and as a result people don’t understand why this is a crisis and why we need emergency legislation,” Bethune said.

On Monday, the S&P and Nasdaq saw the biggest percentage drop since the 1987 crash. Stocks plunged when investors were thrown by the House decision to reject a bank bailout plan amid the worst financial crisis in years. http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/29/markets/markets_newyork/index.htm?postversion=2008092921

According to analysts, that sharp slide continued in Asian markets Tuesday, although most of the indexes closed off their low of the day. Still Japan's Nikkei lost 483 points, or 4%, while Australia's markets fell 4.3% and Taiwan's stocks retreated 3.6%."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed narrowly higher. And Europe's major indexes were mixed in afternoon trading, with Germany's Dax and the Paris CAC 40 both lower while London's FTSE inched higher.

However, numerous market analysts agreed the gains in the market Tuesday were likely to be modest.

"What we're seeing here today is a little bit of bargain hunting or short covering, at least for the moment," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners. "But this is a very tough situation. Major declines like yesterday generally don't end up reversing the next day."

Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co., said that there is growing hope among traders that enough House members will reconsider their vote to pass it later this week, and that early gains Tuesday are likely a reaction to the perception that the market overreacted to Monday's vote..

"We were taking the rescue plan for granted, and when it didn't pass, there had to be a reaction," said Hogan.

But he said that even if the bill does pass later this week, there's enough bad news still out there to keep downward pressure on stocks. For example, economists are forecasting that the Labor Department will report a loss of 105,000 jobs in September in its monthly reading this Friday, which would be the biggest job drop in more than five years.

"The market is going to be under pressure when we start to focus on fundamentals and fundamentals aren't going to look good for a while," said Hogan. "The market was down 200 points Monday morning even with the assumption of the passage of the bailout."

Congressional leaders are talking about trying to bring the legislation back, although Thursday now appears to be the earliest date for a new vote. David Kelly, chief market strategist at JPMorgan Funds, said that even if leadership announces a new deal, it's unlikely to prompt much of a rally.

"It'll be very hard for traders to put their firm's money at risk based on their perception of body language of leadership, given they hadn't properly counted the votes last time around," said Kelly.

He said there's enough risk of more bad news, such as another distressed bank sale or bank failure, that could spook markets ahead of the vote."

* The article above is compiled from information I recieved by e-mail from peers in the financial industry. I cite all sources that I could locate.

The CNN article and additional information can be found here:

MSNBC -- Allison Linn's entire article can be found here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26948627/?GT1=43001

Monday, September 29, 2008

WA Delegation split on support for Bail Out Bill

Regarding today's vote on the financial crisis bailout bill, Hunter Green, of the News Tribune tells readers of the Political Buzz blogs, "Congressman Rick Larsen said he was disappointed at the outcome. “Let me be absolutely clear – the economic rescue package I voted for today is not about helping Wall Street,” Larsen said. "It’s about protecting all of us – American families in Washington state and across the country who need our economy to grow and recover.”

"Washington state’s three Republican House members along with Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee voted against the $700 billion financial bailout package today.

In addition to Inslee, Republican Reps. Dave Reichert of Auburn, Doc Hastings of Pasco and Cathy McMorris Rogers of Deer Lake opposed the measure negotiated by congressional leaders and the White House."

Alex Johnson, a reporter for MSNBC writes, "Ample “no” votes came from both sides of the aisle, but Democratic leaders managed to persuade more than 60 percent of their members to back the measure, while more than two-thirds of Republicans balked at spending so much taxpayer money just before the Nov. 4 elections."

On MSNBC, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called her decision to vote no “one of the most difficult I have faced.”

“I agree this bill is much better than the one we started with,” McMorris Rodgers said. But “committing 700 billion of our tax dollars requires a longer, more thoughtful debate.” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26946382/?GT1=43001

Rep. Barney Franks D, Mass, chair of the House Finance Committee told NBC in an interview, “Sixty-seven percent of Republicans decided to put political ideology ahead of this nation,” he said. “The numbers of deeply offended Republicans turned out to be the number you would need to defeat the vote.”

The measure was defeated 228-205.

World stocks and the Dow plunged in response to the vote. House adminstration announced that they have cancelled the House pre-election recess and are hard at work re-writing the bailout bill.

Alex Johnson's entire MSNBC article can be read here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26946382/?GT1=43001

Hunter Green's entire News Tribune post can be read here: (Click "Political Buzz" and scroll down). Unfortunately, the direct link is no longer working: http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/politics/2008/09/29/evergreen_state_delegation_votes_5_4_on_

In a Mind Numbing Vote -- Congress turns it's back on America - meanwhile, Bank Bailouts Sweep across Europe

Five weeks away from the election: Congress refuses to deal with the Financial Crisis -- The result? Massive panic and bank failures across Europe.

Republican or Democrat, If you want to avoid a world-wide financial crash - get on the phone to your U.S. Representative.

Demand that Congress draft legislation to address the financial crisis in a fair, but financially responsible manner. What on earth are they thinking? We don't have the luxury of waiting five weeks for the results of an election!

CNN -- LONDON (AP) -- "European governments had to step in with a flurry of major bank bailouts from Iceland to Germany as fear and turmoil from the U.S. credit crisis spread through the financial system.

Even as U.S. lawmakers were preparing to vote on a massive $700 billion (€490 billion) rescue of their own banks, the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg took partial control late Sunday of struggling bank Fortis NV (
FORSY), while Britain seized control of mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley (BDBYF) early Monday.

Germany organized a credit lifeline for blue-chip commercial real estate lender Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, while Iceland's government took over Glitnir bank, the country's third largest.

The rapid-fire European bailouts were quickly followed by news that U.S. financial giant Citigroup Inc (
C, Fortune 500). was acquiring the banking operations of troubled Wachovia Corp., (WB, Fortune 500) the latest U.S. financial institution to fail or be sold. Citigroup will absorb losses of up to $42 billion in a government-facilitated takeover."

The entire article can be read here: http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/29/news/international/Europebanks_bailout.ap/index.htm?postversion=2008092911

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Land Use Accountability Project

Why do organizations like the Washington Association of Realtors (WAR) and the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) form?

What role do local, state and national organizations play in Land Use Decisions across America? (The local WA Realtors and local BIAW are chapters of well funded and much larger state and national organizations).

Why is it important for voters to understand the purpose and influence of a Business PAC?

The Center for Public Integrity recently conducted a study on Land Use Accountablity in America.

The study reveals that, "Sprawl is a national story, threatening America’s famed open spaces, challenging our rural culture and love of nature. Yet, expansion and development, too, are essential to the American character. While neither ideal should dominate, heavily-financed interests often prevail by overwhelming, sometimes corrupting, local public policy. This project examines local experiences and “connects the dots” in order to illustrate today’s national land use story."

A series of legal takings challenges have taught us that, "Generally, courts have held that local governments cannot arbitrarily limit development merely to avoid growth. The landowner has ownership rights over his or her property, or, as the old maxim dictates: Possession is nine-tenths of the law." For more information on the takings initiative movement in western states, see: http://www.publicintegrity.org/projects/entry/60/

Yet, what townships, counties, and others can do “is to draw out the permitting process, throw up environmental roadblocks, and grudgingly — and slowly — comply with the letter of the law,” explains Witold Rybczynski of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, in Last Harvest, his latest book on land development."

"If the developer’s resources and the potential profits are great enough, however, there are myriad ways in which they can influence or corrupt the system of checks and balances that have evolved over time, and sweep aside even legally sound land-use regulations."

Here's the link to the study: http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/luap/

Key Findings:

The infusion of cash by developers is corrupting land use practices in America and sparking federal investigators to examine conflicts of interest by public officials.

America’s rural culture and heritage areas are under assault and suffering political turmoil, especially in exurbia, areas on the outskirts of America’s most populous metropolitan areas .

BIAW and REALTOR websites: Are these organizations political? You bet they are!

BIAW: "The Building Industry Association of Washington exists to unite those in the building industry in Washington state in their fight against a government that has made this industry among the most regulated in the nation." http://www.biaw.com/DesktopDefault.aspx

Political page: http://www.biaw.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=3&tabid=108&navid=1

WAR: "REALTORS® don't just sell homes, we sell communities - we sell Quality of Life. We created the Quality of Life Program to educate, provide tools, develop policies, influence legislation and enhance the overall REALTOR® image." http://www.itsapriority.com/

Political page: "REALTOR® Successfully Support Candidates! A whopping 98% of REALTOR®-endorsed candidates were successful in the Primary election and are battling to win the General Election on November 4th. REALTOR®-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi received just over 46% of the vote compared to 34% in the 2004 Primary." http://www.warealtor.org/government/realtor_advocate.asp

A memorandum regarding Property Rights from local Realtor, Jon Sonie, Chair, WAR Property Rights Fairness Task Force: http://www.warealtor.org/government/images/PropRtsTFReport.pdf

Other points of view:

PERC-- "The Property and Environment Research Center—is the nation’s oldest and largest institute dedicated to improving environmental quality through markets and property rights. Research is at the heart of PERC’s work followed by outreach and education. Formed more than 25 years ago, PERC applies economic thinking to environmental problems. Located in Bozeman Montana, PERC pioneered the approach known as free market environmentalism." (FME).http://www.perc.org/index.php

Evergreen Freedom Foundation: "Growth Management - a rift between intent and reality." http://www.effwa.org/files/pdf/growth_management_act.pdf

WA Policy Center: http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/Centers/environment/index.html

Conservation Voters: "Washington Conservation Voters is the statewide political voice for the environment. We work to elect environmentally responsible candidates to state and local offices. Working with our allies in the community, we advocate for strong environmental policies and hold our elected officials accountable during the legislative session. Through our political work we are strengthening laws that safeguard the health of our communities, the beauty of our state and our economic future." http://www.wcvoters.org/

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dan Pike's Hatch Act Complaint Timeline

I put together the enclosed timeline based on an interview I had with the individual who filed a Hatch Act Complaint against Mayor Dan Pike.

The complainant has allowed me to review correspondence from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel Hatch Act Division Attorney confirming that a complaint was filed and that an official investigation has been opened to investigate several allegations against Dan Pike during the 2007 Mayor's campaign.

One of the e-mail is posted below to confirm that the investigation is taking place. It is my understanding that Tim Johnson, editor of the Cascadia Weekly has also reviewed some of the documents. Despite Sam Taylor's claims, Tim Johnson is a professional journalist who does his research.

Hatch Act Timeline

March 2008 -- A Hatch Act Complaint is officially filed with U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

April 2008 -- About 23 days later, the citizen who filed the complaint received written confirmation from a U.S. Hatch Act Unit Attorney that a formal investigation had been opened to investigate numerous allegations listed in the original complaint.

May 2008 -- OSC acknowledges in an e-mail that it has begun an investigation.

June 2008 -- A select group of individuals are contacted for additional documentation and testimony.

July 2008 -- The Complainant receives a request from the OSC for additional background materials, which he provides in the form of a supplemental complaint. (The first of many).

August 2008 -- A Washington State Agency acknowledges by e-mail that it is working in cooperation with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. OSC acknowledges it has received last supplemental complaint.

September 2008 -- investigation is ongoing - over 200 days of legal research has taken place regarding alleged Hatch Act Violations.

OSC confirms in writing that it has all the supporting documentation it needs to complete it's investigation.

I'm looking forward to reading the final report and investigation.

Honest, transparent elections are worth fighting for!

Here's a copy of an e-mail the complainant received from OSC to confirm that the investigation is taking place. I've redacted names and e-mail information, as requested by the complainant. Neither e-mail will work folks. This e-mail is not the result of a public disclosure request and Latte's policy is to not print names to protect the privacy of the individuals listed below.

Media - call the OSC contact number for media listed two posts below if you want additional information.

From: El****, N*****
Subject: Hatch Act Matter
Date: Monday, August 18, 2008, 5:28 AM

Mr. Paxton:
I received your message from last Thursday. I received both the fax and documents sent through the U.S. Mail. Thank you for sending the materials. D*** is out of the office for another week, but she will be returning to OSC. Either D*** or I will be back in touch with you shortly.
N**** El****
Attorney, Hatch Act Unit
U.S. Office of Special Counsel

Thurston County Superior Court rules Builder's can use ROII program profits for Rossi's Campaign

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy denies request for restraining order to freeze ROII funds during Lawsuit.

"Attorneys for the disgruntled companies — Sources for Sustainable Communities, A-1 Builders and SF McKinnon Co. — countered that it wasn’t BIAW’s money to spend.

“You have no First Amendment right to spend other people’s money,” attorney Andrew Friedman said." Rachel LA Corte AP.

Here are excerpts from Rachel La Corte's AP story and The Olympian's Brad Shannon's story.

Judge rejects effort to freeze BIAW spending on elections
By RACHEL LA CORTE - Associated Press Writer

"The Building Industry Association of Washington can continue to spend money on the governor’s race while a court case against the group moves forward, a judge ruled Friday.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy rejected an effort to freeze the association’s assets while three building companies challenge the right of BIAW to use a percentage of their workers compensation insurance rebates on politics. " http://www.bellinghamherald.com/elections/story/573263.html

Builders group wins ruling over use of fund
The Olympian, by Brad Shannon.

"The building industry won a high-stakes court battle Friday that ensures it can spend its multimillion-dollar profits from its industrial insurance rebate program on Republican Dino Rossi's campaign for governor.

Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rossi are virtually tied in some polls, and BIAW lawyers contended that a shutdown of their spending could affect Rossi's chance of winning.

"We're poised to compete in the marketplace of ideas against the unions, the trial lawyers, the environmentalists and the tribes," BIAW executive vice president Tom McCabe said after Judge Christine Pomeroy ruled in his favor in Thurston County Superior Court. BIAW called the ruling a victory for free speech.

BIAW's political committee, ChangePAC, has raised $2.7 million and spent more than $2 million in the governor's race so far. A rival Evergreen Progress PAC — funded substantially by the Democratic Governors Association, teachers unions and Service Employees International Union — has raised $2.9 million and spent $2.1 million to help Gregoire and attack Rossi.

In refusing to issue an emergency restraining order to keep BIAW from spending its potential $2 million cache of additional funds for campaigns, Judge Christine Pomeroy of Thurston County Superior Court said the proper course of action for plaintiffs in the case is a suit for damages."

The entire story can be read here: http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/598389.html

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Channeling Pinocchio"

Or, "Covering Fanny" (you're all familiar with the acronym - "CYA)"

In the Public Disclosure Commission staff report to the Commission, Phil Stutzman, Director of Compliance, recommended that the full Commission dismiss Professor Todd Donovan's complaint regarding $19,038.23 that was not reported by RQL PAC or by Pike's campaign.

I find the lack of reporting especially troubling -- because I know from past experience, that Bellingham voters cast ballots based on the source(s) of a candidate's funding.

$19,038.23 in a local election is not chicken feed. It is a sizable amount of money that has the ability to persuade voters to cast a ballot for a particular candidate. Especially when the in-kind mailers are mirror images of the candidate's own mailers.

When contributions of this size go unreported, people get elected under false pretenses. Or, as Joel Connelly of the PI said, "Big bucks are a clue to officeholders' alliances, growth management votes, and -- if not of politicians being bought -- at least who's being rented."

Yesterday, Sam Taylor told readers that the PDC did not consider the contribution to be an in-kind contribution.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

But like me, Sam Taylor has a personal bias. Taylor is a strong supporter and admirer of Mayor Dan Pike. And I respect his friendship with the mayor. But friendship or a "misguided sense of loyalty" does not give Sam Taylor the right to misrepresent the facts about a case.

I filed a complaint against Mayor Pike during the last weeks of the campaign, in an attempt to draw the public's attention to the fact that the Pike campaign had a pattern of reporting errors. A fact, that in my opinion, prevented voters from determining the true source of his campaign funding.

Professor Donovan, who has much more experience in this arena than I do, did an analysis and determined that 54% of Pike's contributions remained undislosed to the public before the election.

Pat Mooney, former Port Commissioner for Anacortes was removed from office for hiding 40% of his contributions. Apparently, uniform enforcement of PDC laws is not a priority at the PDC. Behavior that gets one candidate ousted from office is tolerated and encouraged with other candidates. Go figure.

Pike has demonstrated a history of not being able to report contributions and expenditures on time. A pattern that appears to be continuing -- sadly, the only thing that's changing is the level of sophistication that he is using to cover his tracks.

Here's an excerpt from the PDC Staff Report. The excerpt can be found on page two of the staff recommendation document listed at the bottom of the page.

The 2007 Dan Pike campaign received what staff determined to be in-kind contributions from the Realtor's Quality of Life PAC, valued at $19,038.23. However, staff found that the Pike campaign attempted to avoid coordinating its activities with the Realtors Quality of Life PAC and believed the expenditures to be independent expenditures.

During the campaign, Perry Eskridge, a representative of the local Whatcom County Association of Realtors (WAR), contacted the Pike campaign manager, Sati Mookherjee, and requested digital images. The campaign manager provided the images, and when additional, high resolution images were requested, the campaign manager delegated the duty to a campaign volunteer who provided the images to Mr. Eskridge. On or after October 16th, 2007, upon receiving invoices from Mr. Eskridge, the Pike campaign was unsure of the purpose of the invoices and how to report the information. Mr. Pike's campaign manager contacted PDC staff.

Based on their discussion, PDC staff told the Pike campaign that this expenditure appeared to be an independent expenditure and might not be reportable by the Pike campaign.


The 2007 Dan Pike Campaign did not violate RCW 42.17 in a manner that would warrant enforcement action. O.k., let's examine this statement closely, "did not violate in a manner that would warrant" (That means he violated the statute - but the PDC is not taking enforcement action against Pike, based on the discussion between PDC staff, and members of the campaign... Dictionary.com defines "in a manner" as in a manner, so to speak; after a fashion; somewhat.


You can read the Pike campaign's testimony to the PDC in the previous blog. That is, if you really want to get nauseated...


2007 Dan Pike Campaign (PDC Case NO. 08-102) - Staff recommends that the Commission dismiss the allegations against Dan Pike. Dismissal is appropriate because the Pike campaign attempted to avoid coordinating its activities with the Realtors and RQL PAC and believed the expenditures to be independent expenditures. In addition, the Pike campaign did not report receipt of an in kind contribution for the mailings based on advice it received from PDC staff.

A hearty thanks to the PDC for really messing up our 2007 Mayor's election!

Dan Pike couldn't have gotten into office without you! First, the leaking of Randy Unruh's e-mail; and, second, a PDC staffer informs Pike's campaign manager that she does not have to report a $19,038 in-kind contribution from the Realtors.

So, tell me members of the PDC, are you sure you don't want to file an in-kind contribution report on behalf of the Pike campaign?

Enforcement Matter - Realtors Quality of Life PAC, Case #08-103•

Report of Investigation

Report of Investigation Exhibits 1-16

Report of Investigation Exhibits 17-43

Notice of ChargesEnforcement Matter -

Dan Pike, Case #08-102•Report of Investigation

Report of Investigation Exhibits 1-15

Report of Investigation Exhibits 16-43

Staff Recommendation

The above links can be found here: http://www.pdc.wa.gov/home/enforcement/reports/enforcement.aspx?Title=2008&Page=http://www.pdc.wa.gov/home/enforcement/reports/2008.aspx

Documentation of other Public Disclosure Commission mistakes regarding this campaign: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/102/v-print/story/222827.html

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Did Randy Unruh of the PDC pick Bellingham's Mayor?

Today is the day of the Realtor's Quality of Life PAC hearing.

I've enclosed the background materials for today's hearing below.

Enforcement Matter - Realtors Quality of Life PAC, Case #08-103
Report of InvestigationReport of Investigation Exhibits 1-16Report of Investigation Exhibits 17-43Notice of Charges

Enforcement Matter - Dan Pike, Case #08-102
Report of InvestigationReport of Investigation Exhibits 1-15Report of Investigation Exhibits 16-43Staff Recommendation

The above links can be found here: http://www.pdc.wa.gov/home/enforcement/reports/enforcement.aspx?Title=2008&Page=http://www.pdc.wa.gov/home/enforcement/reports/2008.aspx

It appears that significant "fanny covering" is about to take place in Olympia.

On May 15, 2008, the Washington Public Disclosure Commission issued a Staff Report to the PDC Commission with a recommendation that the Commissioners report the following apparent violations of the Realtors Quality of Life PAC to the Attorney General's Office. That report was pulled from the PDC site last May.

Despite testimony from Chad Minnick, a campaign consultant for the Realtors, advising Ms. Whiting of the Realtors that there was too much coordination between himself and the campaigns to change the mailers to Independent Expenditures, the Realtors went ahead and mailed the pieces, violating Washington's 21 day $5,000 contribution limit before the General Election.

The Realtors contributed $19, 038 to Mr. Pike's campaign and $12,874 to Sam Crawford's campaign. They also contributed $14,738 to Larry Farr's campaign, but Mr. Farr promptly reported contribution, as required by law.

These were local races -- and the Realtors in-kind donations represent a significant percentage of each candidate's total campaign donations. A fact that Professor Todd Donovan pointed out in his original complaint against Mr. Pike. Prof. Donovan estimated that 54% of Mr. Pike's campaign contributions (estimated total of all unreported contributions) were undisclosed before the November 6, 2007 General Election. A copy of Donovan's complaint can be found here:

In 2004, the Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit against an Anacortes Port Commissioner to remove him from office for accepting contributions in excess of the amount allowed by law. The dollar amount was $1,444 dollars, or 40% of candidate Pat Mooney's spending limit. The Attorney General's press release can be found here: http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&id=4016

But that's not going to happen in in the Realtor Quality of Life PAC case.

In fact, the PDC refused to acknowledge that an influx of $19,038 during the last few days of the campaign had any affect whatsoever on the outcome of the Mayor's election.

However, PDC staff recommended that the Commission dismiss the allegations against Dan Pike. "Dismissal is appropriate because the Pike Campaign attempted to avoid coordinating its activities with the Realtors and RQL PAC and believed the expenditures to be independent expenditures. In addition, the Pike campaign did not report receipt of an in-kind contribution for the mailings based on advice it received from PDC staff."

The $19,038 reporting error, combined with the release of an e-mail written by Randy Unruh informing Pike (and the entire world) that all 67 campaign violation charges would be dismissed, represents, in my opinion, "unprecedented meddling" by a public agency in the Bellingham Mayor's race.

First, Dan Pike leaks Randy Unruh's e-mail to the media -- prematurely "clearing " himself of any campaign violation charges. Next, he contacts every media outlet and claims that he was a "victim" of a nasty, dishonest McShane supporter. (me). Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of voters are casting their ballots. Copies of Unruh's e-mails to the Pike campaign may be viewed here: http://whatcomforum.blogspot.com/2008/09/washington-state-public-disclosure.html

Second, a PDC staffer tells the Pike campaign it does not have to report a $19,038 dollar contribution from the highly controversial Realtor's Quality of Life PAC - in a community where voters historically make decisions about a candidate based on the source of that candidate's funding. Mr. Pike presented himself as a environmentally sensitive candidate.

The PDC discovers that an error has been made by a staff member, that the contribution in question -- is in fact an in-kind contribution. But no one at the PDC instructs the Pike campaign to report the Realtor's contribution before the General Election.

The three Realtor mailers were mirror images of the mailers sent out by the Pike campaign -- which indicates that there was significant coordination between the Realtors and the Pike campaign. Indeed, some of the Realtor mailers arrived in my mailbox on the same day as some of the Pike mailers. A fact that has been ignored during this investigation.

On October 19th, the PDC contacted Ms. Whiting from the Realtors Association and was told that the in-kind contributions were reported to Whatcom County candidates on October 16th, one day after the 21 day $5,000 contribution limit went in to effect.

Fully aware of the violation, the PDC did not attempt to stop the Realtors from mailing the campaign mailers, nor did the Realtors voluntarily reduce the size of the mailings to conform with Washington Campaign laws.

The mailers were mailed, despite the Realtors acknowledgement that they were way over the $5,000 limit, and two candidates, Hence, Dan Pike and Sam Crawford received thousands of dollars of illegal support during the last two weeks of the campaign. Neither man was charged. Neither man reported. The perfect campaign caper.

Here is the testimony from Mr. Pike and his campaign manager, Sati Mookherjee, who later admits in her testimony that a campaign staff person had been coordinating with Chad Minnick via e-mail on the mailers, unbeknownst to Mr. Pike or herself.

Section 3.54 Mr. Pike stated that he had no contact with anyone from the Realtors (local or state) or either of the vendors regarding any mailings they were sponsoring regarding his campaign. He stated that his campaign manager informed him that the Realtors requested photos, and stated, "Which wasn't unusual for people to ask for that. There were different groups that endorsed me that wanted images. If anybody wanted images to promote me that was fine. So we didn't even ask about why people would ask for those, we just assumed, obviously, they were aligning with us and wanted to have some images to help my candidacy."

Mr. Pike stated that he did not personally provide or have any contact with the Realtors in providing images.

Section 3.55 Mr. Pike stated that he first learned that the Realtors were doing a mailing on the day the mailer arrived in his home mailbox.

Section 3.56 Mr. Pike had no contact with PDC staff regarding the Realtors expenditures on behalf of his campaign.

Section 3.57 Dan Pike's campaign manager, Shati Mookherjee, (sic) stated during her interview with PDC staff that Mr. Eskridge (Whatcom Association of Realtors) contacted her and requested photos. She stated that at that point, the campaign didn't have many pictures, so she sent him what she had. Mr. Eskridge contacted her again because he needed better images (higher resolution), so she directed him to a campaign volunteer who better understood computer images. She stated they had no further discussion at that point and she was not aware of what Mr. Eskridge would use the photos for.

Section 3.58 Ms. Mookherjee stated that her next contact with the Realtors was when Mr. Eskridge called her to inform her that he had some "papers you guys need to file." She stated that she had a campaign volunteer retrieve them from Mr. Eskridge. She stated that a few days later, the treasurer, Ken Bronstein, contacted her seeking direction on reporting the content of the invoices. She stated that neither she nor Mr. Bronstein understood what the invoices were for and decided to contact PDC staff for help.

Section 3.59 PDC staff records show that staff spoke with Ms. Mookherjee on October 18th regarding the invoices. Ms. Mookherjee stated that she told PDC staff, "I don't understand what these are or how to file them... Perry asked me for pictures several weeks ago, which I sent him but I never asked what they were for, he never used the word mailer."

Section 3.60 After further discussion with PDC staff, Ms. Mookherjee stated that she believed that she had been advised, by PDC staff, that this was an independent expenditure and the Pike campaign did not have an obligation to report the expenditures.

Section 3.61 Ms. Mookherjee stated that once she completed her contact with PDC staff, she believed the matter involving the Realtor expenditures (invoices) had been resolved because the invoices were referencing to an independent expenditure sponsored by the Realtors. She stated that she believed the mailer had already been delivered and that she had never seen it.

Section 3.62 Ms. Mookherjee stated that several days after her contact with PDC staff, as she was reading old e-mails (e-mails she had received during the campaign but had not been able to read right away), she found an e-mail string between a campaign staffer and Chad Minnick (Realtor Campaign Consultant). She stated that she had been copied on the e-mail and not previously reviewed it. She stated that in the e-mail Mr. Minnick was requesting photos from the staff person and he referenced a plan to spend $12,000 on a mailer. Ms. Mookherjee stated that, at that point, she thought the e-mail string was regarding a new or additional project that the Realtors were also sponsoring. She did not understand that the project described in the e-mail string was the project referenced on the invoices received from Realtors Quality of Life PAC. She stated, "I thought there was some internal confusion. I thought, whatever had happened, had already happened two weeks ago and I was glad that I had never seen or heard of those mailers. I thought it was over, I thought it was moot."

Section 3.63 Mr. Pike and Ms. Mookherjee both stated in their interviews with PDC staff that the Realtor sponsored mailers had no impact on the Pike campaign's mail plan. Ms. Mookherjee stated that their advertising plan had already been created by the time they realized what the Realtors were doing. Mr. Pike stated that he was closely involved in his own campaign's mailing plan, stating, "I was involved to the extent that the pieces all got vetted through me before they would be sent out. I was pretty involved all the way through."

Section 3.64 Mr Pike and Ms. Mookherjee both stated, during their interviews, that the first time they saw the mailers was when they arrived at their respective residences.Realtors Quality of Life Over-limit In-Kind Contribution

Section 3.71 PDC staff contacted Ms. Whiting (Realtors) on October 19 and November 2, 2007 regarding the nature of the expenditures, attempting to determine whether it was an in-kind contribution or an independent expenditure. Ms. Whiting advised PDC staff that the mailers were in-kind contributions and stated that the candidates received the notification one day late, on October 16th.

Section 3.72 During her interview, Ms. Whiting stated that after she was contacted by the PDC staff regarding whether the mailers were in-kind or independent expenditure, she asked Mr. Minnick if the mailers could be changed to independent expenditures.

She (Ms. Whiting) stated that Mr. Minnick advised her that there had been too much coordination between himself and the campaigns, so the mailers had to remain as in-kind contributions.She also stated that the mailers had already been printed and did not contain the proper independent expenditure sponsor identification language (top five contributors, etc).

Section 3.73 Ms. Whiting and Mr. Wahl (Realtors) both stated, during their interviews, that there was no internal discussion regarding reducing the number of mailers to qualify the expenditures as in-kind contributions within the limits imposed during the 21 day limitation period (i.e. send out $5,000 worth of the mailers instead of the entire amount).

Section 3.74 In response to PDC staff's request for a written explanation, Ms. Whiting provided a series of e-mails between herself and Mr. Eskridge (Whatcom Association of Realtors) in an attempt to explain their internal confusion about the projects. In an October 25, 2007 e-mail to Perry Eskridge, Ms. Whiting appears to have had some level of understanding that the candidates did not receive notification in time for the expenditures to qualify as an in-kind contribution not subject to limit.(See Exhibit 15).

Section 3.75 During the investigative interviews, PDC staff asked Ms. Whiting and Mr. Wahl to sum up the situation concerning Realtors Quality of Life PAC expenditures.

Section 3.76 In her summary, Ms. Whiting stated that the mailers were in-kind contributions but, she stated, "Apparently that was not the understanding of Perry (Eskridge) or the campaigns. And so they didn't communicate the fact that they were uncomfortable to me, at least, because that would have been a red flag that maybe they don't know what's going on here."

Section 3.77 Ms. Whiting further concluded by stating, "I think the glitch is miscommunication between myself and Perry...it wasn't anything anyone did on purpose. We really wanted to keep everything out in the open... we just sort of dropped the ball in communicating this properly to the candidates."

Amended report of Investigation: http://www.pdc.wa.gov/archive/commissionmeetings/meetingshearings/pdfs/2008/08102.ROI.pdf
Report to Commission: http://www.pdc.wa.gov/archive/commissionmeetings/meetingshearings/pdfs/2008/08102.ROI.pdf

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Business PAC spending offers clues

Joel Connelly, of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, ran a story this morning about PAC spending.

I would have loved to have covered this story myself, but my reputation and credibility have been trashed by folks like Sam Taylor, over at the Bellingham Herald and his good friend and blogging buddy, (former Bellingham Herald Community Editorial Board member), Greg Kirsch, (who loves to do his hatchet work anonymously on blogs and on the Herald's electronic comment pages).

Both Taylor and Kirsch are long time supporters of Mayor Dan Pike, a candidate that has been the subject of a number of public disclosure investigations at both the state and federal level.

The Realtor complaint was the second complaint filed against Mr. Pike. Two federal complaints are still under investigation.

According to Tim Johnson, Editor of the Cascadia Weekly, http://www.cascadiaweekly.com/pdfs/issues/200839.pdf, Mayor Pike was recently ordered by the PDC to report $19,038.00 for in-kind contributions he received from the Realtor's Quality of Life PAC during the last two weeks of the 2007 election.

I hope Sam Crawford received the same request in regards to his previously unreported contributions of $12,875. By law, (RCW 42.17) voters have a right to know all sources of a candidate's contributions before the election.

Thanks, Joel, (and Tim Johnson) for taking the time to educate the public regarding the importance of campaign finance laws!

Here's Joel's article -- normally I only print excerpts and provide links to articles, but today, (forgive me Joel), I have to post the entire article. The link to the original article is posted below. (I highlighted the sections that are in bold).

"IN ITS SECOND sharply critical investigative report in three weeks, the Public Disclosure Commission staff found that a big-spending business political action committee flagrantly violated state law.

The commission will take up, at its Thursday meeting, how the Realtors Quality of Life PAC spent $46,650 on seven mailers supporting Whatcom County candidates in the closing days of the 2007 campaign and shelled out $10,000 for a TV ad.

The watchdog agency has, if it chooses, found a strategic time to bare its teeth.

The Realtors Quality of Life PAC is currently sitting on a $708,000 war chest.

The Washington Association of Realtors' legislative committee wants to pour $500,000 into "issues advertising" to "educate voters" in the next month.

"All expenditures under this motion must not advocate the election or defeat of a candidate for public office to be consistent with (federal and state) regulations," says the panel's memo.

Ignore the fanny-covering language. The real purpose of the "education" campaign would be to defeat Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Other people are engaged in similar "education."

Just last Friday, Attorney General Rob McKenna filed civil complaints against the Building Industry Association of Washington and the Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties.

The complaints followed findings by the PDC staff of "apparent multiple violations" of finance law in funneling money to their anti-Gregoire campaign.

Investigations of builders and Realtors should not be dismissed as political junkie stuff.

Nor should the public believe the customary claims -- of those caught -- that violations are "bookkeeping errors." Guys in $2,000 suits have a curious way of channeling Pinocchio.

A lot of money is in them thar books.

As the commission notes, the Realtors' PAC spent $339,769 for "independent" expenditures in the 2004 cycle, $38,386 in 2005 local elections, $359,940 "independently" in 2006, and made $105,000 in "independent expenditures" (out of total spending of $230,808) in local elections last year.

Big bucks are a clue to officeholders' alliances, growth management votes, and -- if not of politicians being bought -- at least who's being rented.

"Follow the money and the issues the money is chasing," former U.S. Rep. Jolene Unsoeld said in receiving an award last week from the Coalition for Open Government.

If you get to know who really pays for the "hit" pieces in your mailbox, it can be an important factor in how you vote.

In Whatcom County, the disclosure commission found, the Realtors Quality of Life PAC "did not identify the candidates benefitting from the in-kind expenditures and did not provide the required itemization of costs attributable to each mailer."

The final itemization of expenditures was provided 156 days late, on April 3, 2008.

The last day for making unlimited giving to local candidates for the 2007 general election was Oct. 15, 2007. After that, money and in-kind giving was limited to $5,000 in the aggregate.

"The mailings were delivered to the public between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2, 2007. The Washington Realtors Quality of Life did not cancel or reduce the size of the mailings to ensure that the value of the in-kind contributions ... was limited to $5,000," the commission staff reported.

Take an electronic trip to the Public Disclosure Commission's much-improved Web site. Good-government groups are straightforward in where the money has come from, and where it went.

With business committees, however, there are endless cutouts. They spawn front groups in numbers that rival days when the Soviet Communist Party nurtured "peace" committees.

The Affordable Housing Council is another Realtor group. Its latest filing shows $235,000 in donations, $195,285 in expenditures. A majority of the dough comes in two big gifts, $120,000 from the BIAW and $60,000 from the Olympia Master Builders.

Of the expenditures, $185,000 has gone to something called Progress for Our Community, which in turn has given $160,000 to People's Choice for Leadership. The revealing hint comes in a $38,000 allocation to Dresner Wickers & Assoc., a top Republican direct-mail outfit.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce used a front -- the Voters Education Committee -- to channel $1.5 million to smear ex-Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn when she ran for attorney general in 2004.

The committee revealed its "donation" long after the election. The Chamber of Commerce refused to name its donors, saying the money was not specifically raised to fight Senn.

Homebuilders, contractors, and Realtors aren't just reactionary robots. They ought to demand accountability from those manipulating their money.

State Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, himself in the real estate business, unloaded when I talked to him earlier this week.

"There's a huge disconnect between the Realtors Quality of Life PAC and the real estate agent out on the street," Tom said.

"They don't want their members to know how they're spending the money." http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/380283_Joel24.html

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Last updated September 23, 2008 11:22 p.m. PT

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

PDC revised rulemaking

The PDC has recently adopted a new rule, to "clarify" that candidates have an obligation to report all contributions and expenditures promptly. It reads, as follows:

Re:"21-day pre-election C-4 reports. The report filed 21 days before the election shall report all contributions received and expenditures made as of the end of one business day before the date of the report. [Effective June 12, 2008. Chapter 43, Laws of 2008]" http://www.pdc.wa.gov/home/historical/pdf/20072008LawRuleChanges.pdf

This new rule, which took effect June 12, 2008, is designed to prevent future abuse of the 21 day pre-election report rule.

A friend, someone who understands PDC law much better than I do, told me that there is no way that the PDC will hold Dan Pike or Sam Crawford accountable for not reporting the Realtor in-kind contributions.

Nevertheless, he hopes that the new rule will require candidates to report in-kind contributions promptly, so future voters will be able to make informed decisions about a candidate's source of funding before the election takes place.

And, we have WAC 390-32-010, the Fair Campaign Practices Code for candidates and political committees. It's been around for awhile. I'm especially fond of sections (6) & (8) - but all eight sections are important, if we hope to conduct future elections that discourage personal attacks on candidates and their family members.

Pursuant to the provisions of RCW 42.17.370 (1) and (6) the public disclosure commission adopts this Fair Campaign Practices Code:

(1) I shall conduct my campaign, and to the extent reasonably possible shall insist that my supporters conduct themselves, in a manner consistent with the best American tradition, discussing the issues and presenting my record and policies with sincerity and candor.

(2) I shall uphold the right of every qualified voter to free and equal participation in the election process.

(3) I shall not participate in, and I shall condemn, personal vilification, defamation, and other attacks on any opposing candidate or party which I do not believe to be truthful, provable, and relevant to my campaign.

(4) I shall not use or authorize, and I shall condemn material relating to my campaign which falsifies, misrepresents, or distorts the facts, including but not limited to malicious or unfounded accusations creating or exploiting doubts as to the morality, patriotism or motivations of any party or candidate.

(5) I shall not appeal to, and I shall condemn appeals to, prejudices based on race, creed, sex or national origin.

(6) I shall not practice, and I shall condemn practices, which tend to corrupt or undermine the system of free election or which hamper or prevent the free expression of the will of the voters.

(7) I shall promptly and publicly repudiate the support of any individual or group which resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponent(s) to methods in violation of the letter or spirit of this code.

(8) I shall refrain from any misuse of the Public Disclosure Law, chapter 42.17 RCW to gain political advantage for myself or any other candidate.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 42.17.370(1). 85-22-029 (Order 85-04), § 390-32-010, filed 10/31/85; Order 93, § 390-32-010, filed 8/26/77; Order 64, § 390-32-010, filed 11/25/75; Order 62, § 390-32-010, filed 8/26/75; Order 50, § 390-32-010, filed 3/3/75.

Now, I think that this may be a good time for me to discuss my relationship with Dan and Lisa McShane.

I met Dan McShane while he was serving on the Whatcom County Council. My other Council member is Ward Nelson.

Over the years, Dan has always treated me fairly. He responded promptly if I called or wrote him about an issue that concerned me, and always took the time to provide me with solid data to support his position on any issue that we were discussing.

Dan and I may not have always agreed about an issue, but he consistently treated me with respect, and provided me with the information I needed to make informed decisions about pending legislation.

I met Lisa McShane many years ago, at a forum, back in the days when we were working on opposite campaigns. (The first of many).

Over the years, I found Lisa to be a formidable political adversary, but she never made up lies about me. Nor did she run an unethical campaign against any of the candidates I was working for.

Sure, there were times that I ranted and raved and wished she lived in Boston, or Siberia, or any place other than in Bellingham. But, I can't say that Lisa ever mistreated me. She just flat out beat us on occasion. Fair and square. No tricks, no under-handed tactics. Just good old fashioned political savvy put to good use.

Years later, we served on a non-profit board together. During that time, I came to respect Lisa for her commitment and dedication to building a stronger, healthier community.

So, it goes without saying that I was shocked at the nastiness that erupted during the Pike/McShane campaign.

To this day, I can't explain why that campaign was as ugly as it was. In 15 years of campaigning across the state of Washington, I've never seen another campaign that could rival the Pike/McShane campaign in viciousness.

Tim Johnson, of the Cascadia Weekly had a theory that he posted in the Cascadia Weekly Gristle. He noted, that during the mayor's race, the Hannibal Lecters of the political world were recruited and turned lose during the Pike/McShane campaign.(Folks that the community had previously rejected and shunned for years, due to their past political behavior).

What was their mission? Well, from what I could tell, it appeared that they wanted to defame, bad mouth and destroy the McShanes. But they didn't stop with just the McShanes - they viciously attacked anyone who questioned Dan Pike's political behavior. Remember the Herald online comment sections?

Now, why would the former vice chair of the Republican Party (that's me) step forward to speak up on behalf of the McShanes?

I guess I'm one of those bloody idealists who believes that:

1) People have a right to disagree with me and work hard to convince elected policy makers to adopt legislation that I may not support.

2) A healthy political system requires the participation of a diverse group of stakeholders.

3) Good public policy does not come about through the "control of one party or the other" but through the practice of thoughtful, responsible compromise. In other words, the best legislation - is legislation that everyone can live with.

So, why did I support Dan McShane during the Mayor's race? First, he had the experience and people skills to do the job. I also knew that he had what it takes to build civic capacity. What is civic capacity? The ability to build solid, cooperative, working relationships with other elected officials and governments.

McShane acquired those skills while serving on the County Council. In today's political world, the ability to form cooperative working relationships with the representatives of other governments and non-government organizations is essential if a community wants to apply for grants or craft solutions for multiple jurisdictional problems. (Dan is also fiscally conservative).

Do I "dislike" Dan Pike? No. But he has not "wowed" me with his administrative skills either.

I do not trust some of the people Mayor Pike has surrounded himself with - they have a history - and it does not include the practice of building strong communities.

Some of them are bullies who enjoy using intimidation to frighten people from voicing their opinion, posting comments in the Herald, or filing PDC complaints.

I'm also disappointed to learn that Dan Pike is having a difficult time forming solid working relationships with Whatcom County Executive, Pete Kremen and Port Director, Jim Darling. Being able to work closely with other elected and appointed officials is critical if the city wants to reduce phosphorus loading in Lake Whatcom and revitalize the former G.P. brownfield site.

Both Pete and Jim have considerable political experience that Mayor Pike could benefit from.

Maybe, as Dan Pike matures politically, he will become a mayor that I can trust and support.

That would certainly be a nice development.


Monday, September 22, 2008

An "Oversight" or a case of "Partial" enforcement?

"Our Campaign Finance Laws are among the best, but they are meaningless if they are not enforced." a quote from former Washington State Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland, who is one of the complainants who filed a PDC Complaint against the BIAW of Washington in July of 2008. That case has been referred to the Attorney General's Office for Prosecution.
Department of Corrections: Penny Sweet, reported the Realtor's Quality of Life PAC in-kind on Schedule B on October 30, 2007. In-kind contributions should be filed on a C-6 form. But Latte wants to acknowledge that Penny did report the funds. Thank you, Penny.
Yesterday, Sam Taylor, over at "The Bellingham Herald," reported that the Realtors Quality of Life PAC has negotiated a settlement with the PDC which includes a fine of $130,000 ($50,000 waived if the Realtors do not have any additional violations - yes, I do my homework too, Sam). The PDC hearing is scheduled to take place on September 25th.

Taylor also reports that the PDC will not take any enforcement action against Mayor Pike for refusing to report over $19,000 dollars for in-kind contributions he received from the Realtors during his 2007 campaign. Mayor Dan Pike is quoted as saying "we were sort of innocently... caught up in this". Sam Taylor's blog can be read here: http://blogs.bellinghamherald.com/index.php?blog=12&title=breaking_pdc_says_clear_pike_big_fine_fo&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 *

If that is indeed the case, then Chad Minnick, a professional campaign consultant for the Realtors, must have a crystal ball on his desk that allows him to create mirror images of a candidate's mailers, without ever seeing them...

Not only were the Realtor mailers identical, in color, size and layout to the Pike campaign's mailers, the "text" used by the Realtors appeared to be taken directly from the Pike campaign's mailers. (Which had not been mailed out yet- so Minnick did not obtain a copy of Pike's mailer from the mail). In fact, the mailers state that they were prepared in coordination with the Pike campaign. Please see Professor Todd Donovan's PDC complaint for photos of the mailers. http://www.pdc.wa.gov/archive/compliance/complaints/pdf/2007/08-103.pdf

To add insult to injury, Mr. Minnick told Ms. Whiting, (a Realtor employee), around the 20th of October, that the mailers could not be converted to independent expenditures, because too much coordination had taken place between Minnick and members of the Pike, Crawford and Farr campaigns.

Ms. Whiting collaborated Minnick's testimony in her subsequent testimony to the PDC.

Of course, we have yet to see the PDC complaint against the Realtors. The hearing hasn't even been held yet. And, bless Sam Taylor's kind heart, he has a documented history of jumping the gun in his eagerness to make his "favorite candidate", Mayor Dan Pike, "look good".

But there's a larger question looming before us. You see, there were a number of candidates across the state who did not report in-kind contributions from the Realtors. And none of the candidates have been mentioned in any of the reports of investigation, even though the Realtors named them as recipients of in-kind contributions in their PDC reports and allegedly notified the candidates that they needed to report the in kind contributions to the PDC.

In other words, the PDC is not asking any of the candidates who refused to file a C-6, to report in-kind funds received from the Realtors, nor is the PDC identifying any of those candidates in it's complaint.

That seems unusual, considering that the PDC named every Republican candidate who received an in-kind in it's complaint against the Republican party last month.

So, what's going on here? Is the PDC telling the public that none of the candidates have a legal obligation to report the in-kind contributions? The message being - it's not important for the public to know who received the money?

Or, is the PDC telling the public that a PDC staff member erroneously told all of the following candidates that they do not have to report the contributions - ever? A decision, that would in effect, hide Realtor contribution information from members of the public?

If, by chance, a mistake was made by a PDC staff member, (the report of investigation names an employee - and that employee (I will not name her) is no longer listed as an employee of the PDC). Wouldn't you think the PDC would want to correct the error?

If the candidates who received in-kind contributions from the Realtors are as "innocent" as Mayor Pike claims, why didn't the PDC list each of the candidates in the ROI, documenting each of the in-kind contributions, like they did with the complaint against the Republicans?

Apparently, only the PDC gets to know the answer to that question. (Or, something appears to be really rotten in Denmark).

Here is a list of candidates who did not report contributions, even after the Realtors filed an amended report naming each of them as a recipient of in-kind contributions. (According to the Realtors, each of the candidates received written notification (a few days late in some cases) that an in-kind contribution had been made on their behalf).

Liz Aspen, $3,031.84 - Campaign for City Council of Woodinville (won her race for council)

Sam Crawford, $12,874.60 - Campaign for County Council of Whatcom County (won his race for council)

Liz S. Pike, $1,943.24 - Campaign for Mayor of Camas (lost her race for the mayor's seat)

Daniel V. Pike, $19,038.23 - Campaign for Mayor of Bellingham (won his race for the mayor's seat)

James Slowick, $3,481.81 - Campaign for Mayor of Oak Harbor (won his race for the mayor's seat)

John Tarrant, $2,502.63 - Campaign for Mayor of Shelton (won his race for the mayor's seat)

Robert A. Van Schoorl, $7,672.07 - Campaign for Port Commissioner of Olympia (lost his race for Port Commissioner).

*The above figures do not include independent expenditures made by the Realtors on behalf of the candidates. Independent expenditures are reported by the PAC or political organization, not the candidates.

I would like to publicly thank the following candidates for taking the time to report the realtor's in-kind contributions, as required by law.

David Carson - candidate for City Council, City of Redmond in King County. His treasurer is Karen Howard. Mr. Carson reported receiving in-kind contributions of an aggregate total of $6,805.84.

David Crosby
- candidate for City Council for the City of Spokane Valley. His treasurer is Sandy Conner. Mr. Crosby reported receiving in-kind contributions of $8,136.05 on October 10, 2007.

Larry Farr - candidate for City Council for the City of Bellingham in Whatcom County. Mr. Farr reported in kind contributions for $14,737.64 on October 16, 2007.

John L James
was a 2007 candidate for City Council for the City of Sammamish. His treasurer is Christine P James. Mr. James reported receiving an in-kind mailer on October 16, 2007, for $2,983.75 and in-kind postage of $1,501.20 for a total of $4,484.95 on October 16, and an aggregate total of $9,984.95 for the 2007 campaign cycle.

Dayle (Hank) Margeson was a 2007 candidate for City Council for the City of Redmond in King County. Mr. Margeson’s treasurer is Sheri Sanders. Mr. Margeson reported receiving an in-kind mailer on October 14, 2007 for $3,572.00 and a fee for the preparation of a mailer of $545.87 plus in-kind postage for mailer for $2,287.97 for an aggregate total of $6,405.84.

Penny Sweet, $6,276.88 - Campaign for City Council of Kirkland. Penny Sweet reported receiving an in kind contribution of $6,276.88 on Schedule B, on October 30, 2007.

Lynn E Walty was a 2007 candidate for City Council for the City of Lake Stevens. Lynn’s treasurer is Muriel Cooper. Lynn Walty reported receiving an in-kind mailer from the RQL PAC on October 14, 2007 for $4,991. Lynn also reported receiving in kind postage for $837.71. Lynn also received in-kind postage for $716.36 for an aggregate total of $6,666.42.

Randy Ransom was a 2007 candidate for City Council for the City of Woodinville, King County. His treasurer is Laura Ransom. Mr. Ransom reported receiving an in-kind mailer contribution of $2,278.50 and in-kind postage for $753.34 for an aggregate total of $3,031.84.

Brad Stark
was a 2007 candidate for City Council for the City of Spokane. Mr. Stark reported a Last Minute Contribution of $11,047.64 on October 15, 2007 from the RQL PAC.

*The above contributions do not include independent expenditures made on behalf of candidates by the Realtors. Independent expenditures are reported by the PAC or political organization, not the candidate.