Posted by: sweeneyblog | March 29, 2014

Follow-up on Rep. Vincent Buys PDC Troubles

Rep. Vincent Buys

Rep. Vincent Buys

The Public Disclosure Commission investigated Rep. Vincent Buys alleged violations of campaign fundraising laws and responded. I first identified them in my article here, and as a result, the Whatcom Democrats filed a PDC complaint.

The central issue is that Buys sent out invitations to a campaign kickoff, through mail and facebook, during the legislative freeze. State law reads that during the legislative session, “no state official or person employed by or acting on behalf of a state official or state legislator may solicit or accept contributions to a public office fund, to a candidate or authorized committee, or to a retire a campaign debt.”

The PDC complaint filed alleges that an invitation to a campaign kickoff qualifies as a “solicit” for contributions. Andrea McNamara Doyle, Executive Director of the Public Disclosure Commission wrote a response that reinforces that point.

In a letter to Mike Estes, chair of the Whatcom Democrats, she states that, “Commission staff has previously advised legislators that contributions may not be solicited or accepted at campaign events that are advertised during the freeze but held after the session. This advice holds true regardless of whether the event was advertised as a fundraiser.” You can read the letter here.

However, they did state that, “No further action on this complaint is planned unless evidence of impermissible fund raising is provided. The Respondent is being informed of staff’s application of the session freeze requirements, including that in-kind contributions to assist with staging a campaign event are also contributions subject to the freeze and therefore cannot be solicited or accepted for an event that is advertised during the freeze period.”

In other words, he can have his event without problem, he just cannot ask for or receive any donations at that event because he advertised it during the legislative freeze. The event was held on March 22nd, the Whatcom Republicans shared photos of the event on their facebook here.

The next deadline for declaring any donations is April 10th, it will be curious to see if any money comes in to the Vincent Buys campaign in light of this recent slap on the wrist.

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Responses

  1. When it’s all said and done, we’ve got to realize that in Rural Howcome County (aka 42nd District) the odds of getting multiple Democrats elected are slim. If we have to have a Republican Representative, I’d a lot rather have Vince, who has a head on his shoulders and a little integrity, than the Rep that Cascadia Weekly unabashedly named the “Shitbird” who has about as much ability to represent his constituents rather than his party and to think for himself as my dog has ability to dish out his own dog food in measured amounts for him and his fellows. I hope Vince weathers this. I have a feeling that JO is vulnerable, even to a Republicritter challenger. Now, if we could just find Doug a real job…

  2. Not even a fine? Go ahead, break the rule, get even less than a slap on the wrist? Geez.

    • He only broke the rule if Buys “accepted” contributions at the kickoff. No evidence that this happened was cited.

  3. Hey Riley, where is your outrage on :”Shitbird” in blanketbell’s comment? A little selective aren’t we.

    • I let it stand because it was referencing Tim Johnson’s controversial piece in the Gristle where he called Overstreet a shitbird. I’m not perfect, I just want to keep things from getting too heated here.

      • Right!!!!

        I am sure if a Democrat 9or Tim Johnson) had been called a “shitbird” you would have responded. Could it have something to do with the fact that you are the Vice Chair of the Whatcom Democrats?

  4. In the main blog post above, I fail to see how the excerpt from the PDC excecutive director’s letter to Estes reinforces the point that a campaign kickoff invite qualifies as a solicitation of funds. The excerpt does not in any way prohibit a “campaign event”, rather it makes clear the point that money cannot be solicited or accepted by the campaign.

    I summarize this “issue” as follows:
    A “campaign kickoff” is not a solicitation of funds, so no solicitation occurred. Webster/Merriam cannot manage to name anything having to do with “fundraiser” in its definitions of “campaign” and “kickoff”. PDC has no evidence of impermissible fund raising.

    And yet, we still see the following in print:
    *Under RECENT POSTS in the sidebar, a link to “…Vincent Buys PDC Troubles”
    *In the first sentence of the blog post above, “…Vincent Buys alleged violation of campaign fundraising laws”

    So, two questions:

    1. How can this issue correctly be called “Vincent Buys PDC Troubles”? At what point was Buys in trouble with PDC?

    2. For each example of an “alleged violation of campaign fundraising laws” , can someone describe the violation in detail, and cite exactly what regulation has been violated?

    As I posted under one of the earlier blog posts prior to the event:

    RCW 42.17A.560

    (1) During the period beginning on the thirtieth day before the date a regular legislative session convenes and continuing through the date of final adjournment, and during the period beginning on the date a special legislative session convenes and continuing through the date that session adjourns, no state official or a person employed by or acting on behalf of a state official or state legislator may solicit or accept contributions to a public office fund, to a candidate or authorized committee, or to retire a campaign debt. Contributions received through the mail after the thirtieth day before a regular legislative session may be accepted if the contribution is postmarked prior to the thirtieth day before the session.

    I presume this is the pertinent law. There are two restrictions listed: no solicitation or acceptance of contributions.

    Solicitation: regarding the Buys Facebook Invitation…I don’t consider “Campaign Kickoff” to be synonymous with “fundraiser”. I don’t see on the invitation wording like “fundraiser” or some sort of exorbitant per-plate charge to attend the party.

    Acceptance: the event has not yet occurred; Rep. Buys has not yet had the opportunity to accept any contributions.

    • To your last point first – the PDC sees “campaign kickoff” to be synonymous with “fundraiser”. It says right there in the letter they sent: “Commission staff has previously advised legislators that contributions may not be solicited or accepted at campaign events that are advertised during the freeze but held after session. This advice holds true regardless of whether the event was advertised as a fundraiser.” That seems pretty crystal clear. The event was advertised during session, it doesn’t matter what it was called, just that it was a campaign event, you cannot solicit or accept funds at such an event.

      That’s what this article spells out. As for the headline with “alleged violation”, that’s because there was a PDC complaint that made allegations that Buys did not follow the law, that he was in trouble with the PDC.

      • Sounds like you agree that Buys has violated no campaign laws “at this point”.

      • To your first sentence: not correct. If the PDC equated campaign kickoff with fundraiser, then they would have levied a penalty for either the event announcement or the event itself in response to Estes’ complaint.

        Your chosen excerpt from the PDC letter does not in any way equate kickoff with fundraiser or prohibit campaign events from occurring or being advertised during the freeze. The excerpt is crystal clear on what can’t be done at an event occurring after the freeze that was advertised during the freeze.

        I’ll add an exerpt from the same letter: “…while campaign-related events commonly involve fundraising, this is not universally true. To that end, the Commission does not believe the session freeze prohibits a candidate from scheduling or organizing a campaign event during the freeze period – including sending out “save the date” notices for post-session events – only from soliciting or accepting contributions at those events.” This is not consistent with Lori Anderson’s statement you quoted in your first post on this matter (and I’m being very generous).

        This analysis of the PDC letter to Estes isn’t about semantics; it is about comprehension.

        Lori Anderson misspoke (giving her benefit of doubt – with no transcript we can’t see the context of her statement). That her mistake is damaging to Buys’ campaign should now be your focus, in fairness.

  5. Semantics are the last refuge of a scoundrel or even of someone attempting to justify that scoundrelism.
    A Campaign is synonymous with soliciting money since no politician performs otherwise.
    What is shitbird anyway?
    A mentor used to call me that 40 years ago and I just assumed it meant he loved me.

    • He did love you.

    • Semantics in this case might concern the final two words (“those events”) in the third paragraph of the PDC letter to Estes: is the PDC prohibiting solicitation and acceptance of funds only in events held during the freeze, or are they prohibiting same in events occurring after the freeze but advertised during the freeze?

      The rest of this issue is completely clear: Lori Anderson misspoke, and vocal Buys opponents continue to run blind and breathless with her mistaken statement. This even in spite of the recent PDC letter to Estes which is not at all consistent with the Lori Anderson statement. The PDC needs to evaluate who among their officials may communicate with the public.


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