The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) will hold a special meeting Thursday, May 11 to gather public comment on, and consider two options for, agency guidance regarding use of campaign money received for a different office than currently sought.
The meeting at 9:30 a.m. May 11 will be held remotely. More information about joining the meeting will be published on the PDC website on Monday, May 8.
Written comments about the issue and the possible guidance expressed below should be submitted by noon Tuesday, May 9, the PDC said. Send written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Comment on Commission meeting agenda item” in the subject line.
Under RCW 42.17A.490, a candidate who solicits contributions for a state, local, or judicial office may not use those contributions to seek a different office without first obtaining written approval from the persons or entities who gave the contributions.
The question before the commission is whether those contributions authorized for transfer by the original contributors are subject to individual contribution limits in the new campaign or can be transferred as surplus from the prior campaign in a lump sum.
Commissioners are considering two options on which they invite comment:
Option 1: Current agency guidance
When a candidate is transferring contributions left over from a previously completed election campaign to a new campaign for a different office, those contributions that are moved to the new campaign are NOT attributed to their sources, nor do they count toward the contributor’s limit for the new campaign.
The funds are simply moved as a lump sum of surplus funds to the new account, and reported as surplus funds from a previous campaign deposited into the new campaign account with permission from the donors. There might be a succession of transfers to the new account, depending on when the campaign receives the written permission.
Option 2: Proposed alternative to current guidance
When, with the written approval of the contributor, a candidate is transferring contributions left over from a previously completed election campaign, whether or not designated as surplus funds, to a new campaign for a different office, those contributions that are moved to the new campaign must be attributed to their sources, and count toward the contributor’s limit for the new campaign. Each contributor whose written approval was obtained must be identified along with their contribution.