Cites gap in required financial filings with PDC
A complaint filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) alleges that Republican Shauna Beeman, who’s challenging incumbent Okanogan County Commissioner Chris Branch (no party preference) for the District 1 seat, didn’t file required reports of campaign contributions and expenditures for months. The complaint was filed on Thursday (Oct. 29).
Beeman filed a total of five reports in June and July, before the primary, covering mid-May through early July, according to PDC records. But Beeman didn’t file any additional reports until last Saturday (Oct. 24), when she submitted two contribution reports and three expenditure reports for July through Oct. 12.
The complaint alleges that Beeman “chose not to file any PDC forms during the period starting July 19 through October 24, a full 3 months.” The complaint states that “the rash of late filings made on Oct. 24” included contributions for the primary election and classified a contribution received in July — before the August primary — as for the general election.
The complaint also alleges that Beeman didn’t report a $500 donation from the Okanogan County Republican Party made on Oct. 3, although it was “received and proudly announced by Beeman on her Facebook page” on Oct. 6. The Republican Party listed the donation in its Oct. 12 filing with the PDC.
The complaint alleges that Beeman neglected to report newspaper and radio ads she placed in September and October and missed the required filings 21 and seven days before the election.
The complaint was filed by Salley Bull, an independent who unsuccessfully challenged Republican incumbent Okanogan County Commissioner Jim DeTro for the District 3 seat two years ago.
“The lack of timely reporting of contributions and expenses, the incorrect dates and incorrect primary/general designations, and not fully reporting known general election information point to a complete disregard to follow state campaign regulations and disregard to her voting public’s need — and right — to know who is bankrolling her campaign, and what she is spending the money on,” Bull wrote in the complaint.
Reporting requirements change over the course of the campaign. Until June 1, candidates are required to file a report every time they deposit contributions in the bank, PDC Communications Director Kim Bradford said.
Starting June 1, bank deposits must be reported by the following Monday. Since contributions must be deposited within five business days, active campaigns make at least one weekly deposit — and therefore file a weekly report with the PDC.
Candidates must submit expenditure reports 21 and seven days before Election Day (this year, on Oct. 13 and 27). A contribution report is due Monday (Nov. 2) before Election Day. A final report is due in December.
PDC complaint process
When it receives a complaint, the PDC assesses it for jurisdiction and evidence of a possible violation. If it meets those tests, the PDC opens a formal complaint, Bradford said.
Once they open a complaint, PDC staff evaluate the nature of alleged violations and possible remedies, and request a response from the candidate, due within two weeks. The PDC has 90 days to determine if there has been a violation and if disciplinary action is indicated, Bradford said.
There are several possible outcomes after PDC staff investigate a complaint. If they find no evidence of a violation or there is an acceptable explanation, the complaint is dismissed. If violations are minor, the PDC could issue a warning, which would remain in the record of the person or organization that committed the violations.
If the findings are more serious, PDC staff and the candidate could agree on a statement of understanding, where the candidate admits to the violations and pays a penalty up to $1,000. Bradford said.
For violations deemed more serious, the PDC opens a formal investigation that is ultimately brought before the commission itself for a hearing.
The commission — which functions like a judge, hearing evidence from PDC staff and defense from the person charged with violations — can issue penalties up to $10,000 per violation. There are no deadlines for completing a formal investigation, Bradford said.
Any penalties collected by the PDC go into a Legislative fund. The PDC can request an appropriation for specific expenses, such as a system to help candidates file reports, but not for regular operating expenses, Bradford said.
If the PDC opens a complaint after researching the allegations against Beeman, it will be posted online at http://www.pdc.wa.gov.