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PDC sanctions Washington for late campaign filings

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on Thursday fined Kitsap County Auditor Walter E. Washington $300 for his late financial filings, suspending two-thirds of that amount as long as there are no further violations in the next four years.

PDC Chair Ken Schellberg made the ruling in Olympia. Washington appeared in person to present his case.

The complaint was filed by Frederick J. Scheffler of Bainbridge Island in August and cites 13 instances of Washington not filing required forms in a timely manner.

Schellberg agreed that Scheffler’s complaint had merit and imposed the $300 fine (out of a maximum of $500).

Washington will need to pay $100, and will not be required to pay the remainder as long as he files timely statements in the next four years.

Washington said the PDC complimented him about the quality of his recordkeeping, which he felt led to a smaller fine.

“They patted me on the back for the quality of my work,” he said. “They recognized me for my due diligence. The records were all there, but they were late.”

Washington was appointed as a replacement for Karen Flynn, who retired earlier this year. He is currently running to fill the remainder of her unexpired term, and is opposed by Republican John Clark.

This year’s winner will need to run again in 2010 for a full term.

Washington said he had no intention of appealing the ruling.

“It is what it is,” he said. “We were late. I want to put this behind me and get back to conducting a positive campaign that is all about my qualifications.”

Scheffler characterized Thursday’s ruling as “a fine for (being) stupid.”

While he stressed that he had “nothing personal” against Washington, it was clear that Scheffler’s action had as much to do with a general frustration with elected officials as any specific transgressions.

“A lot of people in government aren’t doing their jobs,” he said. “If it takes a fine to require him to do his job correctly, then so be it.”

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