Just days before the Nov. 8 general election, conflict continues between 47th Legislative District Senate candidates Bill Boyce, R-Kent, and Claudia Kauffman, D-Kent, over Kauffman’s claim that an anti-choice group endorsed Boyce.
Rachel Jo Elliott, director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, filed a complaint Oct. 27 with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).
“Kauffman’s email campaign is not only claiming a false endorsement but is making false ideological assumptions about a candidate and sharing them as fact,” according to the complaint taken under review Nov. 3 by PDC staff. “Boyce has soundly denounced the false endorsement claim and the ideological assumptions drawn from it.”
As reported by the Kent Reporter on Oct. 7, Kauffman sent a campaign email to her supporters that connected Boyce to the Lynnwood-based Family Policy Institute of Washington. Kauffman called the group “an extremist organization that opposes abortion rights and marriage equality.”
According to the complaint filed by Elliott, “Unchecked, these false claims on Boyce’s campaign and character stand to inflict damage on Boyce – as a candidate and an individual. This is unfair, unjust, and unacceptable.”
The complaint alleges that Kauffman violated “RCW 42.17A.335(1)(a) for sponsoring political advertising or an electioneering communication that makes a false statement of material fact about a candidate for public office.”
Elliott explained the potential impact of the violation on the public.
“Claudia Kauffman’s email campaign provides a false image of Bill Boyce, claiming ‘he was recently endorsed by the Family Policy Institute of Washington.’ This can be soundly proven false by Bill Boyce’s press release, in which he clearly states that ‘I have neither sought nor received an endorsement from [the Family Policy Institute of Washington.’”
Kauffman disputed the allegation in a Nov. 3 email to the Kent Reporter.
“As we communicated before when Bill tried to say he wasn’t endorsed by the Family Policy Institute, the complaint alleging that we are in violation of RCW 42.17A.335(1)(a) is easily disprovable,” Kauffman said. “Rachel Jo Elliott claims that the Family Policy Institute of Washington has never endorsed Bill Boyce, however a quick look on their website clearly lists him as an endorsed candidate on their front page.”
Family Policy Institute of Washington has since removed the thumbs up symbol on its website that endorsed Boyce.
“The evidence clearly shows that the Family Policy Institute of Washington has endorsed Bill Boyce, and we expect this case to be dismissed quickly,” Kauffman said. “Making this complaint so close to election day is an attempt by the Republicans to distract from the organization’s support of Bill. I believe our community deserves leaders who will focus on the issues that matter to them, not distractions or last minute PDC filing stunts.”
Boyce, in a Nov. 4 email, responded to Kauffman’s comments.
“When my opponent first used this line of attack she was quickly corrected and given an opportunity to retract her false statement. She chose not to,”Boyce said.
“I wrote a statement on my website correcting the false accusations, yet she continued to repeat the lie.
“My campaign did not file the formal complaint, but I can confirm Kauffman is knowingly spreading false statements about my position on reproductive freedom and about an endorsement I never sought nor received.
“Campaigns receive support from many groups, some who support extreme ideas. I am aware that my opponent may not have those same extreme ideas and I would not attack her based on the viewpoints of others, as she has me.”
Boyce, who is president of the Kent City Council, then emphasized his stance with Family Policy Institute of Washington.
“To be clear, I never accepted money nor sought an endorsement from the group she claims,” Boyce said. “As a matter of fact, over 50% of my individual donations come from people right here in the 47th, compared to my opponent’s less than 15%. Most of her individual support comes from Seattle.
“I want this election to be based on the truth about what we both stand for. I always have and always will hold myself to a standard that would make the people I represent proud. I do this now in Kent and plan to do it in Olympia this next year.”
Elliott also filed a complain against Seattle-based New Direction PAC “for sponsoring political advertising or an electioneering communication that makes a false statement of material fact about a candidate for public office.”
The complaint is about the same endorsement of Boyce by Family Policy Institute of Washington.
“New Direction PAC’s misleading website (and the texting campaign promoting it) is not only claiming a false endorsement but is making false ideological assumptions about a candidate and sharing them as fact,” according to the complaint. “Boyce has soundly denounced the false endorsement claim and the ideological assumptions drawn from it.”
Boyce and Kauffman are running to replace Kent Democrat Mona Das, who decided not to seek reelection after four years in office. The 47th District includes all of Covington and parts of Kent and Auburn.
It is one of the most expensive state legislative races with the highest campaign contributions and spending as Republicans try to take back the seat held by Auburn Republican Joe Fain prior to his close loss to Das in 2018. Fain defeated Kauffman, then the incumbent, in the 2010 race.
Boyce has raised $523,470 and spent $512,293, according to the PDC. His largest contributors include $90,863 from the House Republican Organizational Committee, about $88,000 from the Washington State Republican Party and $85,000 from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.
Kauffman has raised $405,675 and spent $390,374. Her largest contributors include $87,000 from the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign, $85,000 from the House Democratic Campaign Committee and nearly $70,000 from Washington State Democrats.