Public Disclosure Commission to send Armacost warning letter

SEQUIM — The Public Disclosure Commission announced via a letter on Oct. 18 that it would formally issue a warning letter to Mayor William Armacost for using public facilities on behalf of a group not affiliated with the City of Sequim.

Karen Hogan and Marsha Maguire filed complaints on July 29 that Armacost used his city email to request the council chambers for the Independent Advisory Association’s forums, where he is listed as an endorsed candidate on the group’s website.

Erick Agina, PDC compliance officer, wrote that staff found Armacost drafted at least two emails as mayor to request the council chambers for the forum on behalf of the group.

Interim City Manager Charisse Deschenes replied to Armacost on July 26 that per RCW 42.17A.555, “elected officials cannot use or authorize use of City facilities for political purposes (and that she) sent information to Donnie Hall (an IAA founder) describing the rental process,” Agina’s letter states.

He adds that on July 28, Deschenes wrote another email to Armacost that “staff must follow appropriate procedures and cannot hold rentals without the fee being paid. As you know we cannot treat City Council requests differently from our other facility rental requests if it isn’t for City business. If the IAA wishes to book the room, they must follow the appropriate steps.”

In an Aug. 10 email, Armacost replied to the PDC that “all our Council seats are all (non-partisan), no party affiliation. My intent was to give our (constituents) a chance to get to know (their) choices for City Council.”

He added, “If you check my history with the PDC, the same two women have attempted to discredit myself with false claims with the PDC violation. Unfortunately they are county residents, not voting members of Sequim, and continue to stir up trouble.”

Said Hogan this week: “He’s accusing us of filing false accusations and we didn’t. There’s nothing false in there. We have the emails that show what he did. and we included that in our complaint.

Said Maguire: “The mayor and some of his supporters on the city council keep trying to push or exceed the boundaries of what they can legally do as local government officials. We just need to keep an eye on them.”

She added that when she met with Armacost in January with a group of people, “he absolutely said he takes comments from people who live outside the city limits,” adding that he said that those who are paying taxes deserve a voice.

On Oct. 18, Agina wrote that “PDC staff’s review found that Mayor Armacost used his City of Sequim computer, email address, and time, to request that the City of Sequim Council Chambers be reserved for a candidate forum, on behalf of an independent advisory group not affiliated with the City of Sequim to promote five candidates for vacant city council positions available/up for election at the City of Sequim, in violation of RCW 42.17A.555.”

Despite being in violation, Angina wrote that “Armacost was under the impression that it would give the City of Sequim constituents a chance to get to know their choices for City Council.”

Agina wrote that the PDC will consider the warning letter against Armacost if there are future PDC law or rules violations related to the use of facilities.

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