Complaints filed against SGGL

SEQUIM — Two complaints were filed in late September with the state Public Disclosure Commission against the Sequim Good Governance League and its political action committee (PAC) for an alleged misreporting of donations, and not disclosing its top donors.

The groups’ leaders dispute any wrongdoing and say they’ve made measures to rectify any issues.

Kathy Trainor filed on Sept. 22 that the Sequim Good Governance League’s PAC increased its donation goal to $6,000 despite being listed under the PDC’s mini-reporting where it’s not allowed to raise and spend more than $5,000.

She wrote in the complaint that the “PAC has falsified information on their donation page and misrepresented donors into believing donations beyond $5,000 will go to the PAC when in fact, they will not.”

Dale Jarvis, treasurer of the league’s PAC, and a board member and treasurer for the league’s nonprofit, responded to the first complaint, saying the PAC set a goal to $3,000 for postcards and in September it was increased to $4,800 to purchase local newspaper ads and soon thereafter to $6,000 “with the intention of shifting from mini-reporting to full-reporting.”

He wrote to the PDC that he was unaware of the Aug. 31 deadline for switching reporting guidelines until Sept. 27 due to being a new organization.

A PDC staffer contacted him saying it was too late to change reporting, and that eight donors put them over the $5,000 threshold, he wrote. The group then turned off the donor button and refunded the eight donations, putting their contributions at $4,979, he said.

In a follow-up to her complaint dated Oct. 10, Trainor wrote that the League’s donation page was still up and people were able to donate. She wanted to know if the group could continue to collect donations.

Jarvis wrote a response on Oct. 13, writing to the PDC that she “confused the PAC Donation button, which we took down on September 27th, with the League’s Donation button.”

Donations now go to the league’s bank account, and not the PAC’s bank account, he wrote.

“Let me reiterate: We are NO LONGER accepting donations for the SGGL PAC,” Jarvis wrote. “There has been NO intermingling of funds between the nonprofit and the PAC. We keep very careful records of all incoming and outgoing funds.”

In the second complaint, Donnie Hall reported on Sept. 27 to the PDC that the league’s PAC’s postcard “which claims responsibility for this political advertisement clearly does not identify its top five donors as required by the RCW.”

On Oct. 12, Jarvis wrote to the PDC that the “political committee does NOT need to identify the top five donors for two reasons: 1) the advertising cost was well below the $1,000 reporting threshold; 2) there are no donors that have given more than $1,000 (per RCW 42.17A.260).”

He cites the PDC’s website where the top five contributors of $1,000 or more to the committee must appear on the ad but that the SGGL PAC has received 56 donations for this campaign season with no individual donation more than $499.

Jarvis said the postcard cost $467.53 and no candidates were involved in the postcard project.

In an interview, Jarvis said that from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1, all candidates’ and political committees’ record books will be open for public inspection including donor names.

“The SGGL PAC will be publishing a full accounting of our efforts online on that day,” he said. “It astounds us that some folks think we have something to hide.”