State PDC to fine Stober for Kent City Council campaign violations in 2011, 2013

Kent City Council candidate Bailey Stober says he has agreed to pay a fine to resolve campaign violations found by state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) investigators when he ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2011 and 2013.

Bailey Stober is making his third run for the Kent City Council.

Bailey Stober is making his third run for the Kent City Council.

Kent City Council candidate Bailey Stober says he has agreed to pay a fine to resolve campaign violations found by state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) investigators when he ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2011 and 2013.

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.

Stober’s case is on the July 23 agenda of the PDC in Olympia for alleged violations of failing to timely and accurately file reports of contributions and expenditures during his 2011 and 2013 campaigns for the council and by failing to make his campaign books open for public inspection during the 2013 campaign.

The PDC staff began an investigation in January 2014 after Kent resident Don Mason filed a complaint in November 2013.

“I accept full responsibility for the rule violations,” Stober said in an email on Friday to the Kent Reporter. “I have accepted this responsibility publicly since Day 1 and have never denied it. But let me be clear – these are paperwork violations. These aren’t criminal allegations.”

Lori Anderson, PDC communications officer, confirmed Stober’s case would be heard next week but wouldn’t say whether an agreement had been reached between staff and Stober.

“My coworkers don’t share those details with me … or anyone else,” Anderson said.

Anderson explained cases are often settled before a PDC hearing.

“Once these cases are scheduled, the staff tries to negotiate a stipulated settlement, which can include penalties,” she said. “If staff is able to negotiate a stipulation, it is presented to the commission instead of putting on the hearing. The commission has the ability to accept or reject the stipulation.

“The commission can make revisions, but both the staff and the respondent have to agree with the revisions. In the case where the commission wants to revise a stipulation and the parties do not agree, then there would be a hearing.”

Fines can be as high as $10,000, Anderson said. The commission will decide what fine between $0 and $10,000 is appropriate for the violations in a particular case.

“I have worked with the PDC staff on a stipulated agreement which will settle this matter once and for all, the agreement will be available to the public on July 23 and it stipulates that I pay a monetary fine,” Stober said.

Stober apologized for the campaign violations and hopes voters still choose him.

“I am sorry to the voters and residents of Kent who are disappointed in me for not closely following these rules and I will work even harder to regain your trust and support,” he said.

In its notice of administrative charges after a nearly 18-month investigation, PDC staff says 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. Testimony from Stebbins and Stober to investigators indicated Stober filed the reports.

Stober also failed to preserve records from his 2011 city council campaign. He told PDC staff he had no banking records or other records of contribution or expenditure activity in 2011. He said he was not aware the law required him to keep such records for five years and that he had discarded the records following his campaign.

In Stober’s 2013 race against Ken Sharp, Stober failed to disclose contribution and expenditure activity electronically. Stober told PDC staff he encountered technical difficulties but thought he successfully filed the reports by the end of his campaign. About one-third of his reports were disclosed on paper rather than electronically. Staff also discovered that 100 percent of his campaign expenditures ($10,306) for 2013 were disclosed six months after the election, between 148 and 362 days late.

Also in 2013, Stober failed to make or honor campaign books inspection appointments, according to PDC staff investigators. Mason requested in phone calls and emails to inspect the campaign books. Stober agreed to show Mason but then said he couldn’t make an appointment they had set up at the Kent Library.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Stober said the fact the PDC finally set a hearing for his case didn’t warrant any media attention.

“This isn’t news,” Stober said. “The Kent Reporter has mentioned this in at least half a dozen stories since the investigation was opened over a year and a half ago. I also would like to add that the PDC opened 40 other investigations during the same month. Unfortunately, the PDC has been used as a tool of political revenge.”

The commission will announce at its July 23 meeting how much of a fine Stober must pay for the campaign violations.

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