After reading Kira Erickson’s article (School bond statement missing from voters’ guide) in the Oct. 14 issue of The Record, I was surprised that she had buried the lede. It’s unfortunate that the committee supporting the South Whidbey School District’s bond measure failed to submit their statement. But the raising and spending of funds in support of the measure by a group that has not registered with the Public Disclosure Commission – in violation of state law – seems to be the real story here.
Voters who venture out to the GoFundMe page for the group will find the fundraiser is organized by “Go Blue.” There is no indication of who is behind Go Blue. The PDC requires Go Blue to:
“Register a political committee if you are a person, group, club, organization or collection of individuals (except an individual using their own funds) that expects to receive contributions or make expenditures in support of or opposition to any candidate or ballot measure.”
This registration is required within two weeks of organizing or first expecting to receive or spend funds. The GoFundMe page was created on March 23.
Once registered, the committee is required to report contributions and expenditures regularly. This has not been done. They are required to collect information about donors, including the donor’s name, address, and employer information for individuals who give more than $250 in the aggregate. This information is not being collected. Committees are required to return donations if they are made in such a way as to conceal the true source of the donations; Go Blue is accepting anonymous donations.
The GoFundMe page says, “A mailer to every household in the district just went to the printer last week…” The PDC requires such a mailer to identify who paid for it. If that information is not included, this would be another violation of state law.
I make no judgment about the merits of the bond measure. However, the voters of Washington state have insisted for over 50 years that campaign finances be disclosed. Go Blue should be investigated for violations of the law.
Finally, among the donors shown on the site are:
· two SWSD directors (Marnie Jackson, Brook Willeford)
· two current or former Langley City Councilors (Peter Morton, Rhonda Salerno)
· a former Island County Commissioner (Helen Price Johnson), and
· Superintendent Jo Moccia
All of these donors should know better about public disclosure requirements.