The state Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced that it filed a complaint in Thurston County Superior Court on Friday alleging campaign finance violations by the King County Democratic Central Committee (KCDCC).
Specifically, the AGO asserts KCDCC failed to timely file a total of $65,442 in expenditures and $74,261 in contributions throughout 2016, according to a media release from the Attorney General’s Office.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, recused himself from any involvement in the matter.
After the state Public Disclosure Commission began an investigation, the AGO received a Citizen Action Notice alleging multiple violations of the state’s public disclosure laws in March 2017.
After receiving the notice, AGO staff determined KCDCC failed to timely file any reports of contributions received or expenditures made during election year 2016. An initial review showed numerous reports were filed between one and eight months late.
Among other reporting deficiencies:
• KCDCC received contributions from seven political committees totaling $30,000, and failed to timely report the activity.
• In the weeks leading up to the 2016 general election, KCDCC made contributions to five candidates for public office, totaling $30,500. KCDCC did not timely report those contributions.
• KCDCC did not begin filing updated reports until Nov. 21, after the PDC staff began investigating, and two weeks after the Nov. 7 general election, inhibiting the public’s right to know who is contributing to Washington political committees.
• KCDCC also failed to timely update its committee information with the PDC when it appointed a new treasurer.
The state seeks penalties and injunctive relief. The defendant will have 20 days from the date they are served to respond to the state’s complaint.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Dalton and Assistant Attorney General Walter Smith are handling the case.
When the Attorney General’s Office receives a Citizen Action Notice, it has 45 days to investigate and respond to the citizen. If the Attorney General’s Office or local prosecutor does not start litigation, the individual may sue in the name of the state. If litigation is successful, any penalties awarded would go to the state, and the individual’s attorney could recover attorney fees and costs. If the citizen’s litigation is unsuccessful, the defendant may recover attorney fees from the state.
The Attorney General’s Office enforces the state’s campaign finance disclosure law to ensure free, open and fair elections in Washington state.