By Mike Baker Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Secretary of State Sam Reed recently retracted a $50,000 charitable donation that he gave to state educational center, redirecting that money back into politics to help Republicans in this year’s election.
Reed’s cash movement took place in his so-called surplus account, which is used to store excess campaign cash that he’s amassed over the years. The Associated Press had previously reported how those accounts have little oversight and were used by other politicians to purchase alcohol, iPads, baseball tickets and clothing.
Reed initially gave $100,000 in 2009 to the Washington State Heritage Center Trust. He recalled half of that money in June of this year, according to finance reports filed for his surplus account.
The Republican said he donated the money under the stipulation that he could withdraw it if the development of a Heritage Center building did not go forward in a timely fashion.
“Now I’m going to be basically using it for other purposes,” Reed said. He said that includes giving the money to the state Republican party.
Earlier this month, Reed gave $80,000 from his surplus account to the state Republican party.
Within two days of those donations, the party had given $40,000 to Kim Wyman, the Republican candidate seeking to replace Reed.
Politicians are not allowed to transfer money directly from a surplus account to another person’s campaign.
Reed’s account had about $113,000 before his October transfers, so most of his account has now been drained. Reed, who was first elected to his current post 12 years ago, is retiring in January.
The Washington State Heritage Center hasn’t been constructed yet due to state budget issues. Officials envision that it will include exhibits documenting the state’s history, a learning center for kids and new facilities for the state library and state archives.
Alex McGregor, chairman of the Washington State Heritage Center Trust, did not return several phone calls in recent days. But the $50,000 retraction appears to be a significant chunk of money for the group, since it amounts to about one-quarter of the group’s annual fundraising dollars in recent years. The nonprofit’s latest IRS filing shows it had $750,000 in assets at the end of 2010.
That project is part of the secretary of state’s office.
Wyman’s bid to replace Reed has been a competitive one, though she is operating with a fundraising deficit. Democratic candidate Kathleen drew has raised about $320,000, compared to Wyman’s $260,000, according to finance reports.