All Politics is Local

Head of PDC asked to resign, complaint tied to Probst ad

The Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison and top elected Republicans are calling on the state’s director of the Public Disclosure Commission to resign, saying she engaged in “illegal and unethical actions” to help Vancouver Democrat Tim Probst.

In June, a complaint filed by a research analyst with the Washington State Republican Party against Probst resulted in an investigation by the state’s disclosure commission. The state commission ruled Probst violated state campaign finance law by not filing a personal financial affairs report in a timely manner.

The commission’s finding was used in attack ads against Probst in his tight race with Rep. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver. The two are vying to replace longtime Sen. Don Benton.

Probst wanted clarification from the PDC and once he got it – since it’s campaign season – he used it in his own advertisements.

Here is what PDC Executive Director Evelyn Lopez wrote to Probst, “At no point in the PDC’s investigation was there an issue of you taking money and not reporting it to the PDC. The PDC does track campaign contributions and expenditures, and would have looked into any allegation that you or your campaign had received additional money for our campaign. The PDC did not find that you have hidden any money from our oversight.”

And then Lopez wrote, “I have reviewed the political advertisements that contain these accusations and they are not correct.”

In their letter, Republicans blasted Lopez writing, “We find no statutory authority that gives you the power to determine whether a campaign mailer is accurate or not.”

Hutchison, with the Republican party, called Lopez’s defense of Probst inaccurate and said she has a history of helping Democrats, a violation of her role as head of the nonpartisan campaign finance tracking agency.

“She has undermined public confidence in the integrity of the PDC as a neutral commission.  This is outrageous, especially in the closing weeks of an election campaign,” Hutchison said in a statement.

House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen and Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler will file a complaint with the Washington State Bar Association, according to the statement.

When asked for a response, the PDC Commission Chair Anne Levinson said they take the responsibility to “neutrally and vigorously enforce the state’s campaign finance laws.”

“If we are going to serve the public well, we have to make tough decisions, regardless of who might not like them.  We appreciate all feedback, both positive and negative, because it allows us to continuously improve.”

Check out the previous blog post about the fine here.

And check out the advertisement against Probst here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_cU9YX5VgI&w=560&h=315]

 

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .