News State Sues Republicans Over Pro-Rossi Mailers
posted by October 3 at 13:49 PMon
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the state Republican Party this morning for allegedly violating campaign rules. The party used over $150,000 from a soft money account, which is prohibited from promoting specific candidates, to send three mailers encouraging voters to support Dino Rossi, the Public Disclosure Commission found last week.
The Washington State Republican Party, if found guilty, faces civil penalties in King County Superior Court of up to $10,000 for each of the three violations and liability for court fees.
Earlier this week, state Democrats called for AG Rob McKenna, a Republican, to hire independent counsel in the case to avoid an apparent conflict of interest. Luke Esser, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, worked with McKenna on the King County Council and at the AG’s office.
“Rob McKenna has known Luke since college,” says AG spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie. So, she says, “Attorney General McKenna has screened himself from this case and delegated attorney general decision making capability to his chief deputy, Brian Moran.”
It will be a long time before the party’s lawyers see a judge: The case isn’t schedule for a hearing in King County Superior Court until March 2010.
In the meantime, the AGs office believes the Republican party will stop sending those sorts of campaign mailers. The party sent a statement to the AG’s office today, saying it “will not be making membership communications that are similar in kind to those that are the subject of the pending dispute … for the balance of the election cycle.”
Guthrie says that if the party does continue, “we are prepared to immediately request an injunction.”