News Update: Those Suspicous GOP Donations to Dan Satterberg
posted by November 5 at 12:40 PMon
For those that missed the Slog coverage over the weekend, here’s the deal: Big donors to Dan Satterberg, the GOP candidate for King County Prosecutor, appear to have also funneled money through the State GOP to Satterberg. That is a violation of campaign finance rules. Donations to parties cannot be earmarked for specific candiates because it allows big donors to circumvent contribution limits.
Late yesterday [Friday night], the GOP made a huge contribution to Satterberberg’s campaign—$81,000.
Cross reference this list of Dan Satterberg donors with this list of donors to the Washington State Republican Party. You’ll find that people who made big donations to Satterberg, the Republican candidate for KC Prosecutor, subsequently made large donations to a Washington State GOP account that has now downloaded about $125,000 to Satterberg.
78 percent of the money in the account, $139,500 out of $176,700, came from Satterberg supporters, most of whom had already maxed out to the candidate.
The Democratic candidate, Bill Sherman, held a press conference this morning saying our campaign finance laws “aren’t a set of cones that you run around to the finish line. It’s not an obstacle course, it’s a set of ethical standards.” He said Satterberg had “duped voters” by receiving massive donations from the GOP that came from Satterberg donors “under cover of the night.”
The transfer came on Friday night and didn’t get much attention over the weekend as voters were casting ballots and Satterberg’s new round of expensive TV ads ($177,000 worth now) were on the air. Indeed, while the TV cameras at Sherman’s press conference today seemed to be getting great footage of Sherman trashing Satterberg’s ethics, the TV exposure is going to be a little late coming after Satterberg’s GOP-funded TV ad blitz.
Asked how this was any different than Democratic Party donations going to the Sherman campaign or any other campaign—say, John Kerry in 2004—Sherman was emphatic. He explained that the GOP account that kicked in the $126,000 to Satterberg had been “dormant” until mid-October. Then, all of a sudden, after several big donors who had already contributed to Satterberg made hefty donations to the GOP account, the GOP sent that money to Satterberg. In contrast, he said, the Ds’ state account—which contributed $30,000 to Sherman—has thousands of small donations.
I checked the Washington State Democratic Central Committee Nonexempt, and Sherman’s right. It’s not “thousands,” but it’s hundreds (as opposed to the 20 donations in the GOP account), and there’s $85,000 from small contributors out of $597,000 total. It’s also been active all year. (Not active enough, if you ask me. They should have downloaded more to Sherman.)
At the press conference, Sherman said he had “heard rumors” earlier this month that the GOP was soliciting money from Satterberg donors. I asked Sherman if he had talked to specific people who had knowledge that this had happened and whether those people would be part of his complaint with the PDC. He said he had talked to someone, a Republican, who had talked to people who had been solicited, and they were told the money would go directly to Satterberg. However, this person is not willing to go on record with the Public Disclosure Commission because it could damage the party and the person’s standing within it.
Confidential to the Republican Who Knows Their Party is Breaking the Law:
You need to go to the PDC with this information. If the party ostracizes you because you come forward with this information, that would only confirm that they are in the wrong, and it would vindicate you for doing the right thing. Be a good Republican.
Confidential to the Public Disclosure Commission: You should offer this person an anonymity agreement.
The GOP should not be able to flout basic campaign laws.