PDC staff seeks dismissal of complaint against Inslee

Investigators for the state Public Disclosure Commission are recommending a complaint be dismissed against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee for alleged violations of state election laws.

A special meeting of the commission will be held at 2 p.m. Monday to consider the recommendation.

The complaint was filed by the campaign manager of Republican Rob McKenna, Inslee’s rival. It accused Inslee of making illegal transfers from his congressional campaign to his gubernatorial campaign.

PDC staff, in a report posted online, said they found no evidence of contributions being improperly moved between accounts or late filing of reports detailing the transfers.

Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager, also alleged Inslee should have registered as a gubernatorial candidate because he conducted a poll in January 2011 and did campaign-related research three months later.

Investigators concluded the $60,000 spent on the poll and research “was to assist Mr. Inslee in evaluating his options” and not for the purpose of aiding his candidacy for a specific office. Under state law, a person must file as a candidate when they spend money on activities “with intent” to promote their candidacy. Investigators decided Inslee did not trigger that requirement.

Inslee hired Feldman Group to conduct a poll in January 2011 and paid the firm $25,570 out of his congressional campaign fund. PDC investigators were told the group polled 600 people between Jan 18-20 to assess his prospects if he ran for governor.

In April, Inslee paid $34,609 to New Partners Consulting to conduct opposition research on himself. Again, PDC staff was told, the purpose to gather information in advance of deciding what to do.

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