Politics More from the 46th
posted by September 12 at 16:29 PMon
Scott White, one of two Democrats seeking the state house seat from North Seattle’s 46th legislative district, has included the $6,250 he spent in attorney fees fighting off a challenge by his opponent, Gerry Pollet, to remove him from the ballot as a campaign expenditure on his disclosure reports with the state Public Disclosure Commission. That means the money will be counted as an official campaign expense. White says he decided to file the expense report after he was told “I should file it because it was associated with my candidacy” by advisers who “felt that it was the most appropriate to make sure that we were being fully transparent” in disclosing campaign expenses.
White’s opponent Pollet, in contrast, has not filed his own attorney fees as a campaign expense or as an in-kind contribution to his own campaign—even though a successful case would have benefited his campaign tremendously by removing his main opponent from the ballot. Pollet says he didn’t see the lawsuit (officially filed by seven of Pollet’s supporters in the district) as “a campaign activity,” adding that White “chose to involve himself” in the lawsuit, which was officially addressed to King County. “Thatís his call. He chose to involve himself in that, and to do so [using] his campaign contributions,” Pollet says. “If I were you, I would ask whether that’s even allowed.”
Curious whether White was right in filing his lawyers’ fees as a campaign expense—and whether it was OK that Pollet chose not to do so—I called the Public Disclosure Commission’s Lori Anderson, who told me, basically, that it’s up to the candidates. “I think defending a challenge to yank your name form the ballot is a legitimate campaign expense, and if the money came out of the campaign account then I think it needs to be reported” by White, Anderson says. As for Pollet’s own expenditures, “if he reported it as an in-kind contribution that he made himself, I donít think that would be wrong, but if he didn’t I donít think thatís necessarily bad either.” Had Pollet filed the fees as a campaign expense, Anderson adds, “I think we would have to decide whether that was legitimate.”