Saturday, January 30, 2016

Update on the Rivers PDC Case.

Well, after again waiting 2 days for the PDC investigator to get back to me, I decided I'd had enough, and I sent the following letter, via email, to the Attorney General, Legislative Ethics Board and the Executive Director of the PDC.

Here's the letter:
Dear Mr. Attorney General,

I am writing to you in the hopes that your good offices can take a look at a current issue involving the state’s Public Disclosure Commission.

Approximately a year ago, I was reviewing my state senator’s PDC filings (Sen. Ann Rivers - R 18) when I noticed a huge jump in claimed funds raised.

Overnight, the amount exploded from around $7000 to around $175,000.

The date was February 10, 2015.

I looked at the number of donors/donations at that time being reported by Rivers for the 2016 campaign cycle (74) and I knew that such a figure was impossible…. if each donor had maxed out to Rivers, she wouldn’t have even $74,000.  Further, there was no indication of a transfer from surplus funds that would have accounted for the remainder of the money, particularly since, to the best of my ability to look up her surplus fund account, she had never accrued more than $30,000.

I didn’t say or do anything about it, but I noted that with the increase, this first term senator had somehow managed to become THE best-funded legislator or candidate for the 2016 cycle in the entire state.  By far.  More than, for example, the Senate Majority Leader.

I found that a bit odd, but I believed that the system would correct itself, so I took no action.

Months went by.  Nothing happened.

Now, the importance of the PDC filings is obvious: I won’t review them here.  But the visual of having a huge fund-raising edge over any other serving legislator or candidate speaks to using this vastly inflated number as part of a shield to deter any other prospective candidate from filing against her in the upcoming election cycle.

While I and a few others know the number she is currently showing (Around $255,000 or so… still the most in the state) is vastly inflated, those pondering a political run against Rivers would certainly entertain second thoughts upon seeing her war chest.

To that end, I called the PDC office late last summer and discussed this situation with an investigator, requesting that she look into this issue informally to get the number corrected.  While talking to me, she looked up Rivers’ file and determined that on February 10 of last year, something had happened to inflate the number.  I asked her to look into it, contact Rivers and ask her to correct the number informally.

Months went by and nothing happened.  Rivers number kept growing.

Finally, on October 5, I filed a formal complaint with the PDC, via fax, complaining that the number, which has been certified to me by an accountant as being totally inaccurate, needed to be corrected.

I received no acknowledgement of any kind.

Weeks went by.  On November 23, I again filed the same complaint with the PDC, a copy of the first complaint to get the number corrected.

Again, I received no acknowledgement of any kind.  More weeks went by.

On New Years Eve, I contacted the PDC via email to find out what was going on.  They replied to me on January 4th of this year that the investigator who had been assigned the case, Bill Lemp, would be out of the office until the 6th of January and that he should provide me with an update at that time.

He did so.

Hi Kelly,
I am working with Senator Ann Rivers new treasurer, once I received the information I have requested I will be able to move forward with this case.  I have had a face-to-face meeting with Senator River's treasurer and our filing specialists are also working with the treasurer.

Once I make a definite decision on how to proceed with this case, I will let you know.


William A. Lemp III
Lead Political Financial Investigator

OK.  Reading between the lines, he’s acknowledged there certainly IS an issue here, otherwise, no face to face meeting with Rivers’ treasurer would have been required, nor would their “filing specialists” need to “work with” the treasurer.

I thanked Mr. Lemp for the update, on January 6th and on January 11, he responded by telling me that as ”new information comes available and I am able to move forward on this case I will let you know.”

I have heard nothing since: I emailed Mr. Lemp on Wednesday asking for an update and I have heard nothing as of this writing.

Time is running out to get this fixed. 

As I see it, the PDC knows the number is inaccurate, but they are unable to determine exactly how it became that way.

Rivers has obviously known the number is wildly inaccurate, but because it benefits her in her effort to keep her seat, she has done nothing to address the issue, allowing this obvious lie to stand.

The issues are clear:

1. Can PDC computers be manipulated in any way?

2.  Why didn't Rivers act to address this issue?  There's no way she doesn't know; there's no way she hasn't known for almost a year that this number is flat wrong.

3.  Why has it taken, literally, almost 4 months of formal requests and months before that after an informal request to even begin to address this issue?

4.  Why is this taking so long?  Is Rivers exerting some sort of influence, directly or indirectly, on the PDC staff?  What's going on here?

The reality is that I have tried to use the system in place to get this issue resolved.  No formal investigation is taking place, or if it is taking place, it’s not listed on the PDC web site.  I have called, emailed, explained and cajoled… but nothing is being done that I can see and Rivers’ fundraising number as I write this remains unchanged… at a quarter of a million dollars, that she simply does not appear to have.

I ask your office to look into this and take the necessary action to address this matter.

At a minimum, the people of this state MUST be able to maintain confidence in the system we voted into place and look at the PDC web site assured that what they find there is absolutely accurate numbers as to how much and who is providing it and where is it going.

As of this writing, I’m already wondering how many other reporting candidate's numbers are inaccurate and who else may be showing the incorrect information that we count on in our state’s electoral process.

Thank you for your time.

K.J. Hinton
Constituent – 18th Legislative District.


Katrina Asay, Chair of the PDC
Anne Levinson
Grant Degginger
John Bridges

Legislative Ethics Board
Well, it's fairly clear that the mail gets read in Olympia.

The case has been assigned a number (Case Number 2495) and alleges violation of RCW 42.17A.235 and .240, for "late or inaccurate reports."  That took place roughly within 2 hours of my sending the emails.  The PDC themselves derived chapter and verse: I had no idea which RCWs were involved or how they would verbalize the allegation(s)

That this fake number developed during session (and during the fundraising freeze) is also of note.

Now, for supporters, there seems to be among them a certain kamikaze element who will say anything, true or not, in response to this... except what they SHOULD be saying:  "Rivers, you screwed up.  Why didn't you fix this?  And what, exactly, are you going to do about it?"

I fully expect some Jim Mains' style retaliation.  But the reality is, as time-honored a defense as deflection may be, that doesn't change the fact of the matter:  Sen. Ann "Gas Tax" Rivers' PDC fundraising number is no where near accurate and that she has known that for a year... and because it benefits her, she's allowed it to go on.

Anything else babbled by Rivers' surrogates notwithstanding.

No comments: