John McCoy

John McCoy

McCoy fined for late reporting of thousands in contributions

In some cases, contributions did not get disclosed until more than two years after they were received.

OLYMPIA — Democratic state Sen. John McCoy of Tulalip was fined $5,000 by the Public Disclosure Commission Thursday for failing to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he received between January 2015 and early 2018.

Under a stipulated agreement with the commission, McCoy admitted to violating state campaign finance laws by not reporting $38,926 in contributions in a timely manner.

He also admitted to not filing required reports of expenditures when they were due and failing to make deposits of some contributions within time frames defined by law.

Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement. It requires McCoy to pay half the fine within 30 days with the rest suspended as long as he commits no new violations for four years.

“The facts laid out here are true and correct,” McCoy testified to the commission Thursday. “I accept full responsibility.”

McCoy, 74, is seeking re-election in the 38th Legislative District which encompasses Everett, Tulalip and parts of Marysville.

A former state House member, he was appointed to the Senate seat in 2013 and won his first full term in 2014. McCoy is seeking a second term and is opposed this fall by Republican Savio Pham of Everett.

On May 1, Justin Matheson, executive director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission alleging McCoy had “habitually and willfully” broke the law by not disclosing the source of the contributions and how he was spending some of his campaign funds.

Matheson filed similar allegations with the Office of the Attorney General and the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Commission staff provided McCoy a copy of the complaint May 2 but did not begin their formal investigation until July when it became clear that the attorney general and the county prosecutor were not proceeding.

In their probe, commission staff determined McCoy’s campaign filed 18 required contribution reports late. In some cases, contributions did not get disclosed until more than two years after they were received. Similarly, some of the required expenditure reports were turned in months late.

Richard Dean Ledford, McCoy’s treasurer since 2000, submitted a formal response to the complaint in July. In it, he cited several medical and traumatic events in his life, and his wife’s, that contributed to his falling behind in getting reports done. These included his undergoing brain surgery in October 2014 and injuries suffered by he and his wife in a head-on traffic collision in March 2017.

Ledford, in the response, also pointed out that a computer virus irreparably damaged his campaign finance filing software and he was forced to reconstruct the files. The campaign attained compliance in March, according to commission staff.

McCoy told commissioners he was aware of the Ledfords’ medical issues but assumed everything was up to date. He also said that because he was not actively campaigning in that period he did not expect contributions to be coming in.

“I should have paid more due diligence,” McCoy told commissioners.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

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