Kent City Council candidate Bailey Stober must pay a $2,000 fine as ordered by the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) for campaign violations in 2011 and 2013 when he ran unsuccessfully for the council.
The commission ordered Stober on Thursday to pay $1,000 within the next 12 months and the remaining $1,000 within 24 months as part of a payment plan, said Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman. The commission concluded Stober failed to file contribution and expenditure reports in a timely manner as well as committed other violations.
The PDC agreed to suspend an additional $2,000 in fines as long as Stober has no more campaign violations in the next four years. Commission staff reported that Stober so far has complied with campaign reporting requirements during his race this year for the council. PDC staff said the amount of the fine was based on the type of violations as well as comparable past cases.
Stober is on the Aug. 4 primary ballot in a race against Tina Budell and Hira Singh Bhullar to replace Councilwoman Deborah Ranniger, who decided not to seek re-election. The two candidates with the most votes advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
“I accept full responsibility,” Stober told the PDC at its Thursday meeting in Olympia, according to the commission’s website video. “There are no excuses. As a candidate, the buck stops here.”
PDC staff began an investigation in January 2014 after Kent resident Don Mason filed a complaint in November 2013 about alleged campaign violations by Stober. Investigators found that Stober racked up a number of violations.
Staff found that Stober failed to amend a C-1 candidate registration form in his 2011 race against Ranniger that listed Janet Stebbins as his campaign treasurer on 17 reports even though she no longer performed treasury duties and that he failed to preserve donation and expenditure records from his 2011 campaign.
In 2013 when Stober lost to Ken Sharp, investigators found that Stober failed to make his campaign books open for public inspection. In both years, Stober failed to file the campaign reports in a timely and accurate manner, according to PDC documents.
Stober asked for and received a payment plan to cover the fine. PDC staff said Stober indicated he couldn’t afford to pay the full fine now because of significant personal expenses he had taken on by retaining custody of his grandmother had put him in a financial bind.
When a commissioner asked staff if those extra personal expenses had been verified, he was told staff did not verify that Stober had taken on additional financial obligations.
Mason, who filed the initial complaint, attended the meeting in Olympia.
“It’s over now,” Mason said during a phone interview. “I feel good about doing what I did. The laws are the laws and he (Stober) violated them.”
Mason said the fine should have been higher. The PDC can fine candidates as much as $10,000 for campaign violations.
“I was disappointed since there was about eight different things (violations) listed,” he said.
Mason had hoped to testify before the PDC but didn’t get that chance.
“I would’ve said there are laws and he (Stober) broke laws,” Mason said. “If every candidate did that they would need a thousand people to handle the cases.”
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