In what could be a costly turn of events for the subjects, both financially and politically, Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Executive Director Vickie Rippie has filed a detailed complaint with her own commission, alleging numerous campaign finance and reporting violations on the part of Republicans Dino Rossi, Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Washington Association of Realtors and their various committees.
The complaint alleges that the Realtors failed to properly report $415,000 of electioneering that specifically targeted Gov. Chris Gregoire, while providing over-limit in-kind advertising expenditures to Rossi and McKenna in the amounts of $498,000 and $29,000 respectively, both in excess of the $1,600 limit per election. The complaint also alleges that both Rossi and McKenna violated state law by coordinating fundraising with the Realtors, and illegally accepting the over-limit contributions.
This complaint comes on top of a previous settlement in September, in which the Realtors acknowledged nearly a million dollars of illegal expenditures between 2004 and 2007, and agreed to a $130,000 fine. Under the terms of the agreement, $50,000 of the fine would be suspended if the Realtors managed to follow all applicable laws through 2011… a sum for which the Realtors should now prepare to write a check, considering the new complaint documents violations through October of 2008, one month after the settlement.
It should also be noted the unusal nature of this complaint, coming from the Executive Director herself after a preliminary internal investigation. The PDC appears to have the Realtors, Rossi and McKenna by the short and curlies, and it’s likely only the tip of the iceberg. The violations are also quite similar to those alleged between Dino Rossi and the Building Industry Association of Washington, but not anywhere near the scale in terms of total dollars. This doesn’t bode well for Rossi and the BIAW.
Nor does it look good for McKenna, whose office would normally prosecute these charges given the PDC’s lack of statutory authority to levy penalties commensurate with the severity of the violations. McKenna has supposedly recused himself from several recent PDC cases that have come his way, passing the prosecution on to underlings, but considering his direct involvement with Realtors’ illegal activities, it is long past time for these cases to be handed off to an independent prosecutor outside the control and influence of his office. (I nominate John Ladenburg.)
The Builders, the Realtors and the Washington State Republican Party threw caution to the wind during this past election cycle, openly flouting campaign finance and reporting laws in an unprecedented effort to get their man into the governor’s mansion by any means possible, and it is hard to believe that this pattern of sustained abuse across the WSRP and its allied political committees was merely coincidental. At what point illegal coordination crosses the line to conspiracy, I don’t know, but if all that results from these violations is a series of fines—even massive fines—these well-heeled organizations will merely write it off as a post-election cost of doing business… a cost that would have been well worth the price had Rossi won.
I’m afraid that unless somebody eventually goes to jail for this kind of blatantly illegal electioneering, there’s nothing the PDC can really do to discourage it from happening again in the future.
Proud To Be An Ass spews:
This could be the end of the GOP’s golden boy in this state. As for the Realtors, they may have finally succeeded in strangling the goose that gives them all those golden eggs. Even if Rossi had won, he’d have been up against a heavily Democratic State Legislature, and the payoff for this strategy seems a bit constrained.
Jail time for top campaign officials and even the candidates whose campaign are illegally financed is the appropriate measure. It doesn’t even have to be long. In fact, it can be merely symbolic. Just enough to damage them politically.
Fines are considered a cost of doing business by the GOP and their backers. Fines trigger legal nihilism. A potential trip to the Big House will trigger sweaty palms, nervous giggles and law-abiding campaign behavior.
All Facts Support My Positions spews:
I vote big house.
They broke the law.
Prosecute, and then sentence them.
Make Bush pardon them!
So, what’s the process for recalling the AG and where do I file the paperwork?
Rossi exudes criminality, so it’s no shocker there. But McKenna? That Boy Scouty, do-gooder aire about him was his sheeps costume?
Just for the record, I voted against him.
Proud To Be An Ass spews:
Such machinations corrupt our democracy, and are thus a threat to vital national interests. The Mr. Cynicals of the world would thus say, “Jail them. Torture them. Then execute them.” I paraphrase here, but that’s what they espouse.
Why do they hate America?
Mr. Cynical spews:
Vickie Rippie is a political hack.
How many PDC complaints has she filed against Gregoire or the Democrats? NONE.
The PDC is supposed to be non-partisan…but hey, the Board is appointed by THE GOVERNOR.
Proud To Be An Ass spews:
Hey, Cyn. Don’t you have a war to fight against faucets? Grohe a pair.
Proud To Be An Ass spews:
Well cynikkkal @ 7, you are wrong as usual.
So who is the hack here? Kohler my ass.
So much for the law and order Republican set.
Proud To Be An Ass spews:
“…but hey, the Board is appointed by THE GOVERNOR.”
Piffle. Maybe if you LOONS could actually like elect a governor here once in a while, you could test that hypothesis.
But you hate science as well as America.
Suzie Q spews:
Good. Yes, someone should go to jail. Realtors/BIAW/Rossi/McKenna: all knew exactly what they’re doing. The Realtors have been coordinating with campaigns for years, pleading ignorance.
This would be a good year to beef up PDC laws in the legislature and give them real teeth. Anyone elected using illegal tactics should be removed from office.
Roger Rabbit spews:
I agree that election crimes need to be felonies carrying prison sentences. Money doesn’t mean anything to these people. They have plenty of that. They’ll never obey the law until the law speaks to them in a language they understand.
Roger Rabbit spews:
@7 “How many PDC complaints has she filed against Gregoire or the Democrats? NONE.”
As I recall, our side paid a big fine for honest mistakes.
Mr. Cynical spews:
But Vickie Rippie didn’t file the complaint, did she.
And honest mistakes??? Baloney. It was incompetence.
Weren’t you just arguing the PDC shouldn’t have jurisdiction over your campaigning? Be careful what you wish for my “short and curly” friend…
John Barelli spews:
As a member of one of the groups listed above, I can tell you that it truly pisses me off that my dues were used to support Mr. Rossi at all, much less illegally.
Our “training” information came out with “information” articles about Mr. Rossi, our endorsement screening process was ignored in his endorsement, and a whole lot of Realtors were unhappy about the way the whole thing was handled.
Yes, I sent copies to the Gregoire campaign, and indicated that I would help with any legal action they chose to take. For anyone from that campaign reading this, the offer still stands.
Unfortunately, the only alternatives to being a Realtor are to either join the National Association of Realtists (yes, there is such a thing, but when was the last time you went looking for a “Realtist”?) or to just go without, which has a number of unpleasant consequences.
(For example – unless my whole office leaves the association, I must either be a member, or move my business to a non-member office, giving up any listings I may currently have. That’s only one of the problems.)
I cannot even identify myself as a Realtor without belonging to the association, and NAR (National Association of Realtors) is quick to pounce on any non-member that uses the term.
So, even though I’m a member, I rather hope that the PDC comes down hard on my association. Dues time is coming up fast, and even with all the disadvantages of going without the association, it’s becoming more and more tempting.
Chris Stefan spews:
I’m thinking RICO charges may be the only gun big enough to give the BIAW, the Realtors, and the state GOP the hint that violating the law repeatedly won’t be tolerated.
WAR has done such a piss poor job over the last few years, both politically and on the hill, that even the republicans are fed up. I would not be surprised if someone does jail time over this latest “mistake.”
This is an echo chamber of idiots. “Go to jail”?! Public disclosure laws are CIVIL not CRIMINAL. No one will, or even could, go to jail even assuming everything in the complaint is true.
But it is nice to have a chance to expose how all you so-called progressives are actually closest totalitarians chomping at the bit for your chance to use the police power of the state to imprison those who disagree with you.
Case in point is the fat bald leader of this shithole who applauded like a trained seal when some jackass said John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur were “contributing” to the anti gas tax campaign by talking about it….now Goldy runs like a schoolgirl to ask for protection under the media exemption he wanted to deny to those who disagree with him.
I’m so glad that society has rewarded your “efforts” with yet another Darcy Burner loss, a divorce, and appearing on O’Reilly. You’ve arrived Goldy, really.
Fed up spews:
Oh Chad, you are so clever.
Bored to Tears spews:
It is called “fraud.” Heard of it? You can break campaign finance law, but at a certain point criminal charges can be brought and people can (and do) go to jail.
@20, check out the Washington State Supreme Court decision State v. Conte. Remember the Colacurcios and Strippergate? Criminal charges can apply if somebody knowingly files or causes to be filed false campaign reports. (RCW 40.16.030)
By the way, whatever happened to Brett Bader? I heard some process server was having a hard time tracking him down.
Nice to know that no one was offended at being correctly identified as crypto-totalitarians.
Can you geniuses name for me a single person (including the aforementioned Colarcurcios) who has been sentenced to prison in this state for violating campaign finance laws.
Let me know, thanks.
Tired Old Man spews:
Better yet, can someone give an example of another association or individual in this state that has EVER so blatantly, repeatedly, and intentionally (key word “intentionally”) violated campaign finance law? Come on “horsesasshole,” you sound like you are good for it.
I am not an attorney and cannot site case law or drum up Supreme Court verdicts. However, I have been in politics for a long time and can tell you, what we are seeing with WAR, this is a first. Party politics aside, I will be surprised if charges are NOT brought against those responsible.
Barelli@ #17: Sounds like you need to form a new organization – “National Association of Real Estate Professionals”(NAREP).
I was wondering what vested interest the Realtors’ association had with the Rossi campaign, but it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? A lot of Realtors go hand-in-hand with the developers, and there are a lot of Realtors who dream of becoming developers themselves. And without those nasty environmental of land management regulations to deal with, it’s more money in the developer’s pockets.
Barelli: By the way, how’s the real estate business going these days?
This past weekend we decided to tile our downstairs laudrey room before putting in a new washer and dryer. The cheap linoleum tile was tearing up from the movement of the washing machine going through it’s cycles, and this seemed like a good time to fix the problem by installing ceramic tile instead. I haven’t laid ceramic tile before, but it didn’t seem too complicated. I know that scraping the old flooring off was going to be unpleasant, I had done that before when installing linoleum flooring.
We had no sooner mentioned it to a couple of our friends than we got about six calls from other friends, who mentioned that they had a family member who was recently laid off from work and needed a job, and they had experience laying tile flooring. We decided to go ahead and hire one of them to do the job because – hey, I’ve been laid off before in tough economic times, and I respect anyone who’s willing to work hard to support their family any way they can.
So the guy we hired had laid tile for his parent’s company for about ten years, but decided to break away into another line of work a couple of years ago. But about three weeks ago was laid off from that job.
Last night he called me up and asked: “Hey, do you mind if my Dad comes and works on the job with me? He’s got thirty years of experience experience in his own company. When I told him what I was doing, he volunteered to help me. His company hasn’t had a job to do in over two months now, and he’s bored stiff.”
So it looks like the building trades are getting really pounded, right before the holidays.
The “Realtors Local Government Action Plan” is an interesting read, shows their “agenda.” Here are a few choice tidbits:
– Adopt high end growth projections
– Increase short plats to 9
– Update/increase capacity of PRD ordinance
– Adopt flexible engineering standards
– Allow final plat decisions as consent agenda items
– Fast-track permit procedures within designated development areas
– Adopt density calculations with 100% capacity credit for buffers to usable areas of site
– Urge city councilmembers to write OCD to rescind critical areas model ordinance
One of the WAR’s government affairs hand-outs expresses their biggest fear is becoming “irrelevant.”
I think RHP6033 is onto something. Start up a new group and make them “irrelevant.”
to the Realtor who doesn’t endorse the tactics of his association… ordinarily, hard money contributions to candidates from an organization have to be separated from your membership dues.. a contribution by you to a PAC account that they have. They can use general fund or dues money on issue campaigns, like 4204 or I-900. They can use general fund/dues money to educate their own members. But an independent expenditure on behalf of a candidate is a huge stretch. If you are a member of the realtors for your professional survivability, I strongly suggest that you get involved with the organization, finding other like minded realtors and vote at those general membership meetings where potential expenditures need to have gen’l membership approval. I know of a realtor who ran and won election for a House seat. She was amazed that the BIAW would actually run a negative campaign piece against her, knock on doors for her opponent, as she said she’s supported them why couldn’t they do the same for her? Politics makes for strange bedfellows. I only hope that the Realtors, the BIAW and those candidates that they collborated with in their campaigns get their just desserts. It’s because of organized, concerted efforts by these deep pocketed organizations and their favorite candidates that the price of running for office has exceeded any expectation of common cents, oops, sense.
John Barelli spews:
Yes, we have a voluntary PAC “contribution” on our dues statement. I routinely line it out and subtract that amount from my dues, as I am permitted to do.
The PDC complaint alleges that my regular non-voluntary dues money was used to fund “issue” ads that were coordinated with the Rossi and McKenna campaigns.
As for the individual talking about a separate association of real estate professionals, there is already the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.
And yes, I’m inquiring about membership.
Ok, enought time has past. No one. The PDC hands out fines and that’s it.
While we’re on the subject no one here will even acknowledge that the most rank violations of campaign finance law came from money laundered through the Democratic party to oust Doug Southerland and install your hero Peter Goldmark. Lots of good people lost their jobs because of this blatant money washing and trust me those people have plenty of time now to explore exactly how to bring PDC laws to bear on the Democrat party and Goldmark.
Is a measure of corruption when Chris Gregoire takes kickbacks from Indian Tribes in order to grant them immunity from taxes on casinos and the long term result that we might have to pay a state income tax now? Gregoire is the scandalous grinch. She’s done absolutely nothing positive for Washington State.
Talk about beating a dead horse. As has been pointed out oh so many times to you wingnuts:
1) That deal with the Indian tribes was the best she could do in accordance with both state and federal law.
2) The tribes are free to contribute money to any campaign they wish as long as they abide by the law.