PDC dismisses complaint about late filings
A complaint alleging that Shauna Beeman, who ran unsuccessfully for Okanogan County commissioner, failed to file required campaign contribution and expenditure reports has been resolved after Beeman worked with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) to file the reports. Beeman (a Republican) lost her bid to unseat Okanogan County Commissioner Chris Branch (no party preference).
After an investigation, an explanation from Beeman, and Beeman’s filing of the missing reports, the PDC dismissed the matter last week. “Shauna Beeman was a first-time candidate who has fully acknowledged violation(s)… and cooperated with the PDC staff by taking responsibility and filing the missing C-3 [contribution] report and amending the C-4 [expenditure] reports that needed to be amended,” the PDC said. The PDC’s review was issued Dec. 2.
In her response to the PDC, Beeman said, “I was not aware that my reports had not been filing. I only discovered this error when the Newspaper published an article and I saw it did not list my campaign donations correctly. I then went in and attempted to correct those reports but was not able to do so without assistance.”
Beeman said she had worked with PDC staff who helped her correct “the data report issues that had kept my reports from filing.”
“We discovered that I needed to impute [sic] a registered voter count to ORCA in order for my Republican Party Donation to be accepted,” Beeman wrote. ORCA is the software used by the PDC for candidate reporting.
Because contribution limits are tied to the number of registered voters in a district, candidates must enter that number, PDC Communications Director Kim Bradford said. Political parties are permitted to contribute more than individuals, she said.
Although Bradford didn’t know the details of Beeman’s case, she said first-time candidates often have trouble navigating the system or don’t understand the requirements. While a candidate can still file the reports without the number of registered voters, the system will give them an “error” message and candidates may not realize they can file the report anyway, Bradford said.
On Nov. 13, Beeman successfully filed a contribution report and amended six expenditure reports, the PDC said. The contribution report was due in August, they said.
Beeman said the PDC employee also helped her correct dates so that her reports accurately reflect expenditures.
“There’s a special code you have to put in for the report to file. If you’ve never done it before, you wouldn’t know,” Beeman said in an interview last week. “I kept getting an ‘error’ and spent two-and-a-half to three weeks with the PDC before we could figure it out. There are so many intricacies.”
Often, reports would look like they went through, but they hadn’t, Beeman said. “There are no warning signs,” she said.
Only when she saw a newspaper article detailing the total amount each candidate had raised did Beeman realize something was wrong, because she knew she had received more contributions, she said.
“It’s not a user-friendly system — anybody will tell you,” Beeman said, noting that she runs her own business and is accustomed to using accounting software. After the help from the PDC and re-filing all the documents, Beeman said she now knows how to tell if everything is in order.
Many people employ a campaign manager who would know what to look for, but she decided to run a low-cost, grassroots campaign because people in the county are struggling financially, Beeman said.
“This was my first time campaigning so the PDC reports were a sharp learning curb [sic],” Beeman said, noting that she had learned a lot and thanking the PDC for helping her resolve the issues.
Public’s ‘right to know’
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 complaint alleged that Beeman hadn’t filed any reports for a three-month period from July through October and that some reports misclassified contributions for the primary and general elections. The complaint also alleged that Beeman hadn’t reported a $500 donation from the Okanogan County Republican Party.
In the complaint, Bull said, “the lack of timely reporting… point[s] 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.”
If Beeman runs for office in the future, she will be informed that the PDC expects her campaign to file timely and accurate reports, the PDC said.
Campaign-finance reports from commissioner candidates
All candidates, statewide, were required to file expenditure reports on Oct. 13 and Oct. 27 and a contribution report on Monday before Election Day (Nov. 2), but Okanogan County Republican Commissioner Andy Hover, who was re-elected to a second term, filed his last contribution report Oct. 15.
Hover didn’t file another report because he hasn’t received any contributions since then, he said last week. Since people in the county were recovering from a wildfire, Hover urged anyone who wanted to give to his campaign to donate it to wildfire recovery instead.
This year, his campaign was particularly frugal, with little travel, Hover said. “I do not like taking money from people to run a campaign,” he said.
The other candidates for county commissioner have all submitted their November tallies.
As of his last filing, Hover reported raising $3,100 and spending $3,893. His top contributor was Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp, which gave $1,000. When he filed for the election, Hover reported a starting balance of $8,632 from his last campaign. He used a few hundred dollars from that for this year’s campaign, he said.
Hover’s challenger, Democrat Katie Haven, who lost the election, raised $44,883 and spent $43,896. Her top contributor was Sylvia Haven, of Seattle, who gave $2,000.
County Commissioner Chris Branch (no party preference) who was re-elected to his seat, raised $13,192 and spent $12,853. His top contributor was Nancy Soriano, of Riverside, who gave $2,000. Branch had a starting balance of $705.
Shauna Beeman, a Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Branch, raised $4,702 and spent $3,989. She was her own top contributor, providing $684 in in-kind donations. The Okanogan County Republican Party gave her $500, the second-largest contribution.
Reporting requirements change over the course of the campaign and there are specific deadlines close to the general election. Candidates are required to file a report every time they deposit contributions in the bank, generally weekly. A final report is due in December, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.