Something's amiss with Schmidt's campaign finance data
If you’re looking up state Senate candidate Ralph Schmidt’s campaign contribution information on the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website, you might want to take that information with a grain of salt.
Some of the entries are duplicates, making it appear as if the Democrat has received a higher number of contributions than he actually has. Schmidt attributed the duplicate entries to problems navigating the PDC’s software, and PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said the agency plans to work with Schmidt to correct the errors.
One of those errors: Schmidt listed two $900 donations from electrician unions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48, and a union called 485 West Electrical Workers.
As far as I could gather, there isn’t an electrician union associated with the number 485 in Washington state. Schmidt said on Friday that he only received one $900 check from an electrician union, and that check was from Local 48. The other $900 in the PDC’s data is a duplicate, he said.
The information included in the PDC’s campaign contribution database comes directly from political candidates, who are required to regularly report their campaign contributions and expenditures through the agency’s website.
Schmidt, who has a master’s degree in taxation and is running for a seat recently held by budget guru Joseph Zarelli, said the problem must have occurred when he changed the way he reported his campaign finances.
At first, Schmidt said he planned to raise no more than $5,000, which meant he could participate in the PDC’s “mini reporting” program. Mini reporting would have allowed him to keep paper records rather than upload all of his campaign’s financial information using the PDC’s electronic filing software.
When he decided to raise more than $5,000, Schmidt had to switch to electronic filing and apparently had some difficulty navigating that system.