Conservative blog alleges Mary Benton misused campaign funds
Update: Mary Benton got back to me very late last night, and I updated this blog post at 1:18 p.m. to reflect that.
Reality Clark County, a conservative-leaning blog focusing on local politics, pointed out yesterday an apparent problem with Mary Benton’s campaign spending in her race for Clark County council District 2.
The post alleges that Benton, a Republican candidate, is spending money earmarked for the general election in her primary campaign. Such spending is illegal under Washington Administrative Code 390-17-300. Benton, meanwhile, denied the accusation. Here’s the full text of the law.
(1) Pursuant to RCW 42.17A.405 and 42.17A.410, if a contribution is designated in writing by the contributor for a specific election, the contribution will be attributed to the contributor’s limit for that designated election.
(2) An undesignated contribution made prior to the date of a primary election shall be attributed to the contributor’s limit for the primary election. Undesignated contributions made after the date of the primary shall be attributed to the contributor’s limit for the general election.
(3) Any portion of an undesignated contribution made prior to the date of the primary which exceeds the contributor’s primary election contribution limit shall be attributed to the contributor’s limit for the general election.
(4) Contributions for the primary election shall be accounted for separately from those for the general election, such that campaign records reflect one aggregate contribution total for each contributor giving in the primary election as well as one aggregate contribution total for each contributor giving in the general election.
(5) General election contributions shall not be spent for the primary election if to do so would cause the contributor of the general election contribution to exceed that contributor’s contribution limit for the primary election.
(6) If a candidate loses in the primary election, or otherwise is not a candidate in the general election, all contributions attributed to the primary election remaining after repayment of outstanding campaign obligations shall be considered surplus funds, disposal of which is governed by RCW 42.17A.430. If a candidate loses in the primary election, or otherwise is not a candidate in the general election, all contributions attributed to the general election shall be returned to the contributors of the funds in an amount equal to the contributor’s general election aggregate total. If a portion of a contributor’s general election contribution was spent on the primary election consistent with subsection (5) of this section, the amount returned to the contributor may be reduced by the amount of the contribution spent on the primary election.
According to the Public Disclosure Commission, Benton has spent $14,425.35 in real money on her campaign. That does not include in-kind donations. She took out a $2,500 loan, so let’s assume she’s spent $11,925.35 in cash from donations. However, she’s only received $9,363.36 in donations for the primary. That leaves $2,561.99 unaccounted for.
Benton saying representative of nothing more than delays between online donations coming into her bank account (which often takes up to ten days, she said) and reporting spending to the Public Disclosure Commission as donations are still coming in.
“The people behind this blog know this simple fact and pretend there is some breach in protocol when there is not,” Benton told me by email.
I’ll watch all the candidates campaign contributions in the next couple of days.