Topic: Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission
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October 30, 2013 at 5:36 PM
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission today approved a $1,500 fine against a political action committee (PAC) supporting Ed Murray for mayor for failing to report the source of a campaign contribution.
The vote was 4-0 to levy the fine, with half suspended if there are no further violations through the 2015 election cycle. An investigation by commission staff found that Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), the political arm of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, violated city campaign disclosure rules when it failed to disclose a $15,000 contribution from Vulcan that was earmarked for Murray. CASE bundled contributions from many business groups and distributed them to campaigns for several different races in the primary election.
Because the Vulcan contribution came with restrictions about which race it could be used in, the source of the money should have been reported and Vulcan listed as one of the top five donors on literature mailed by People for Ed Murray, the commission investigation concluded.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s re-election campaign filed an ethics complaint in September alleging that two business-funded PACs colluded to conceal information from Seattle voters, including other business donations to the Chamber PAC. The Murray campaign was not implicated in the findings.
October 29, 2013 at 4:49 PM
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.
September 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM
Post updated at 6:30 p.m. with comment from Chamber spokeswoman.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s re-election campaign filed an ethics complaint today alleging two business-funded PACs supporting challenger Ed Murray “may have colluded to deliberately conceal information from Seattle voters.”
The complaint to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission by McGinn campaign attorney Gary Manca targets People for Ed Murray and Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), two PACs that have backed Murray with independent expenditures in the mayor’s race.
The complaint’s language is in keeping with the overall McGinn campaign theme of portraying Murray as a tool of the downtown business establishment.
Manca cited late disclosure filings and transfers between the two PACs, arguing Murray’s “corporate backers” may have been trying to hide the extent of their support from Seattle voters.
As we reported Thursday, CASE, the PAC for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, did fail to properly register and file with the Seattle Ethics Commission until Thursday, when it corrected the omission by filing dozens of tardy campaign disclosures.
A chamber spokeswoman, Terri Hiroshima, said the late filings were due to an inadvertent error — the group had been filing electronically with the state Public Disclosure Commission but neglected to activate a “toggle switch” in the PDC computer system that would have automatically also sent the documents to the Seattle Ethics Commission. “There is no basis for this complaint,” she added in an email.
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