All Politics is Local

Why the Clark County GOP has to shut its office

earl bowerman

Clark County Republican Party Earl Bowerman

Looking for money to pay off a court judgement, the Clark County Republican Party will close its office off of N.E. Covington Road. But Earl Bowerman, the party’s chair, said it’s really not that big of a deal.

“While it’s disruptive, it’s not devastating,” said Bowerman.

Bowerman said that on Saturday, the party’s office will be closed and all its furniture, computers, supplies, papers and other materials will be moved into storage. He said that the party’s cut-out of President Donald Trump will be handled with particular attention and gentleness during the move.

He said that the reason the Clark County Republican Party is leaving its offices is because of penalties it still owes stemming from a 2017 Washington Attorney General’s office lawsuit brought against it. The lawsuit alleged the party was chronically late in filing campaign contribution reports required by state law. According to the lawsuit, the party was late in reporting $586,268 in contributions and $463,079 in debts and expenditures dating back to 2012.

In January of last year, a Thurston County Superior Court judge entered a default order against the party after it failed to respond to the state’s complaint. David Gellatly, the party’s then-chair, negotiated the settlement down to $74,725.

Bowerman had previously told The Columbian that the party was hoping for a large cash infusion to keep the office open. But that didn’t work out. Filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission show that the party last paid $1,400 for office rent on Jan. 4.

He pointed to a Feb. 11 letter from the Attorney General’s Office showing that the party is current on its obligations under the judgment, after having failed to make required payments due Sept. 1 and Dec. 1 of last year. (Bowerman was elected chair of the party Dec. 8).

According to the letter, a portion of the civil penalty will be suspended if the party avoids further violations, bringing the amount owed to $46,726. The party agreed that beginning in June of last year it would make quarterly payments to the state consisting of half of its net monetary contributions (after accounting for expenses in collecting those donations). The letter states that the party’s violations were “more extensive than any other county committee the State encountered to date.”

While the Clark County GOP pays off the debt, Bowerman said the party’s committee will continue to meet in other locations. He said that the party’s voter integrity committee met at a local pizza place. He said that the Clark County Republican Central Committee, comprised of the party’s board and precinct committee officers, will hold its quarterly meetings at the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center.

Despite the penalty, Bowerman remained upbeat about the party’s future. He said the party’s board is working well and pointed to the GOP’s success in local elections last fall.

“This is Republican country,” he said.

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