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Lent files complaint over anti-Botkin signs

The red-and-white signs that read “Vote No — Tim Botkin,” started to spring up mysteriously along Kitsap County roadways earlier this week, with some spotted as early as Monday.

Their appearance upset Republican candidate Patty Lent, who is running against Botkin, a Democratic incumbent, for county commissioner.

Their race is to appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

“I’m running my campaign on a positive note,” Lent said, “and I’m using trust and integrity in every piece of my campaign literature. These signs undermine my message in my campaign efforts.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Lent filed a complaint with the state Public Disclosure Commission about the appearance of these signs, which are decorated in the same colors used to craft her campaign signs.

“These signs are very offensive to me as to my opponent. There is no party affiliation, campaign position or identity of who is responsible for constructing or placing these signs,” the letter read. “Neither I nor my campaign committee have any knowledge of this activity nor would we sanction this type of negative campaigning.”

Meanwhile, Botkin said he doesn’t blame Lent personally about their appearance.

Still, Botkin said he’s disturbed that people would stoop to such levels.

“They are illegal signs, and they go well beyond the bounds of what elections are supposed to be about,” Botkin said. “A negative approach is something I wouldn’t want to engage in.”

The signs are in violation of public disclosure laws because they do not name the party affiliation of the candidate mentioned on the sign, said Doug Ellis, a spokesman with the disclosure commission.

Also, whoever paid for the creation of the signs needs to file an expenditure report with the disclosure commission, and has until the end of the week to do so, if $100 or more was spent.

But if an actual committee has formed, and has pooled its resources to oppose a candidate, that group needs to file with the commission, as well.

If the deadlines for filing pass, the commission could launch an investigation into the source of the signs, especially since Lent filed a complaint.

Civil fines of up to $2,500 could be imposed.

“My first thing was to call the elections office to see what I should do about it,” Lent said. “There was no identification on the signs to indicate where they were printed. Right now, I can’t do anything with the signs. Whoever paid for them has a couple of days to file with the PDC. If they file, then I am not permitted to touch them. If they don’t file, I will direct my sign crew to pick them up wherever they find them.”

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