State’s disclosure commission names Tacoma lawyer as new director

OLYMPIA — Evelyn Fielding Lopez, a Tacoma lawyer and former assistant attorney general, was named Tuesday to lead the state agency entrusted with enforcing Washington’s campaign finance laws.

Lopez, 53, will be the new executive director of the Public Disclosure Commission. The announcement came one day after a special meeting in which commissioners offered her the $116,900-a-year post. She will start work Oct. 1.

“Ms. Lopez brings to the Commission an ideal mix of proven strategic and visionary leadership, a history of collaboration, and integrity,” Commission Chairwoman Katrina Asay said in a statement.

Lopez will succeed Andrea McNamara Doyle who resigned in May after nearly four years as executive director. Fred Kiga, chief of staff to former Gov. Gary Locke, has served as interim director since June.

A native of New Zealand, Lopez grew up in Southern California, received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Irvine and went on to attend law school at the University of Washington.

She worked for the state Attorney General’s Office from 1990-2014, the last nine years as chief counsel to the Department of Labor and Industries. Last year she and her husband, Joe, opened Lopez Law PLLC in Tacoma.

Lopez will take the helm as the commission looks to upgrade its technology to make it easier for the public to track the flow of money in campaigns through the agency’s online database.

Kiga succeeded in securing money in the state budget to maintain staff and update computer systems to handle electronic filing from greater numbers of candidates and political committees.

Lopez didn’t reveal any initiatives she wants to launch immediately but said there are a lot of issues out there related to the financing of campaigns.

“If you’re a politician and you’re asking people to give you their hard earned money, you’ve got to be honest about how it is used,” she said. “I am absolutely committed to open government and an informed electorate.”

She also arrives as commissioners are pressing PDC staff to clear up a backlog of enforcement cases including three involving Snohomish County political figures.

This week could see action on a 3-year-old complaint involving professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman, of Mukilteo.

He allegedly conspired to secretly move money among the campaigns of two initiatives in 2012, according to a PDC investigation released Monday. Eyman also is alleged to have used political funds for his personal use in violation of state campaign laws.

Commissioners on Thursday will consider referring the case to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for action.

The commission is expected to act later this year on complaints filed against Aaron Reardon, the former Snohomish County executive, and Kevin Hulten, his aide.

The Reardon case is the commission’s oldest open investigation, dating back to March 2012. There is a five-year statute of limitations.

It involves allegations of illegal use of public resources for political purposes. A 2012 analysis by The Herald found Reardon used his government-issued cellphone to call and exchange text messages hundreds of times with key campaign staff and contractors who worked on his re-election effort. He also spent the equivalent of a workweek dialing up potential campaign donors when his schedule showed him holding a series of “in-office” meetings with staff.

Hulten, meanwhile, used a series of pseudonyms and web pages to target Reardon’s political rivals, records show. State election watchdogs in April 2013 began investigating Hulten after The Herald published evidence showing he’d called the commission during work hours, claiming to be somebody else and complaining about Reardon’s rival during the 2011 county executive race.

It is against state law and county code for candidates to use any public resources in an election.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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