A Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce political-action committee supporting Ed Murray for Seattle mayor has agreed it violated city and state campaign-disclosure laws when it failed to disclose a $15,000 contribution from Vulcan, according to a proposed settlement agreement after a Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission investigation.
The commission will vote Wednesday on a recommendation to fine Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) , the Chamber’s political arm, $1,500, with half suspended if there are no further violations through the 2015 election cycle.
Wayne Barnett, executive director of the commission, said Vulcan should have been listed among contributors to People for Ed Murray, an independent expenditure committee, and also as one of the committee’s top five contributors. Vulcan had made a contribution to CASE, which then gave money to People for Ed Murray.
“When CASE made the contribution, they were obligated to disclose that Vulcan’s contribution had been earmarked for Ed Murray,” Barnett said.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s re-election campaign filed an ethics complaint in September alleging that two-business-funded PACs supporting Murray colluded to deliberately conceal information from Seattle voters, including other business donations to the Chamber PAC.
The Ethics Commission investigation found only that the Vulcan contribution should have been disclosed because it came with specific instructions for how it could be used.
Both Murray and McGinn have gotten support from independent expenditure groups that can raise unlimited money and are not subject to the $700-per-donor limit that applies to candidate committees. Two union-funded committees have backed McGinn with more than $100,000 while People for Ed Murray raised more than $150,000 for the primary. Another independent expenditure committee, People for a New Seattle Mayor, has raised more than $100,000 for the general election, with the biggest donation, $45,000, coming from the Seattle Firefighters Union, and $15,000 from the Seattle Police Officers Guild.