Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney admits campaign violations

Sheriff Adam Fortney

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney has admitted to reelection campaign violations and agreed to pay a fine to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) in order to avoid an enforcement hearing.

According to PDC reports, commission staff received a complaint against the Adam Fortney for Sheriff campaign — filed in May by Marylou Eckart — that his campaign failed to file in a timely manner and accurately report contributions and violations on PDC reports. At the time, staff concluded that the complaint did not amount to a violation warranting further investigation. However, the PDC did issue a formal written warning concerning his actions.

Then, in August, Angela Robinson filed two complaints: The first, filed Aug. 17, alleged that the Adam Fortney for Sheriff campaign received seven contributions that exceeded the contribution limit of $1,200 as required by state law — for a total of $4,600 in excess donations. The second, filed Aug. 26, accused the Fortney campaign of “concealing contributions in efforts to retain contributions received over the allowable contribution limit.”

In a signed statement of understanding dated Nov. 1, Fortney admitted his campaign violated state law “by failing to timely and correctly file campaign reports…and  “disclosing contributions and expenditures undertaken by the campaign.” The campaign also violated state law by accepting over-limit contributions from campaign donors, Fortney said.

In a statement of understanding sent to the PDC, Fortney acknowledged that the campaign violated Washington law as described and agreed to pay a combined civil penalty of $450 for the violations “in lieu of a hearing.” He also noted that his campaign has filed amended PDC reports addressing the violations and refunded contributors who donated over the allowed $1,200 contribution limit.

A first-term sheriff, Fortney is facing Deputy Bothell Police Chief Susanna Johnson on the Nov. 7 election ballot. The PDC gave Johnson’s campaign a written warning in January 2023 following a complaint by Glen Morgan stating that the campaign failed to submit her personal financial affairs statement to the commission within the first two weeks of her candidacy.

— By Teresa Wippel 

    1. I care. He is not great; he is corrupt beyond measure and unfit to serve. I think you need to read some history books to find out what happens to democracy when enough people like you “don’t care.”

      1. When Sheriff Fortney decided to disregard the laws he was elected to uphold during the Covid crisis he lost my vote. This latest information seals my opinion that this man is not fit to serve the people of Snohomish County.

    1. They aren’t Johnson’s PACs. They are independent spenders in this election. They spent money to buy ads supporting a candidate against another candidate, and unless Johnson or her staff were working with the PACs to direct spending, they are likely permissible. Her campaign can’t work with PACs or its considered an in kind donation to her campaign. Citizens United v FEC found that the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political campaigns by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.

      1. Kudo’s to MEN who stated over a week ago they weren’t publishing candidate editorials/comments after ballots went out. How one sided can you get?
        Fortney’s campaign fussed up to ‘campaign violations’ and Johnson’s hasn’t even tho being investigated for more. I keep hearing Fortney picked which covid laws he wanted to enforce; there were illegal covid mandates but no “laws” as emergency powers and actions were to be reviewed every 30 days by established law. No review, no legal mandate yet Olympia and Inslee still forced thousands to lose jobs, homes, businesses and yes lives. Thousands of seniors locked away to die without their families.
        Vote for Adam Fortney!

        1. We have been publishing comments about candidates on stories all along, just no letters to the editor.

    2. It’s not Susanna’s PAC. PACs run political ads for or against whomever they want. It doesn’t have to be authorized by the candidate. And they reported it.

      The RESPONSIBLE ECONOMIC GROWTH In Our Neighborhood PAC (REGION PAC) spent ~$47,000.00 to support Fortney’s campaign.

      So it works both ways.

    3. Carolyn that’s called what about ism: it is a distraction from the issue, which is that Forney accepted campaign contributions over the limit, attempted to keep the money by falsifying reports, by making up donors that don’t exist, and lied about it. We cannot have a sheriff, who is a liar.

  1. Susanna Johnson is the clear choice in this race. Susanna is experienced in all fields of police work, has superb leadership skills, and will prioritize public safety over personal political ideology. Fortney is morally bankrupt and dangerous for our county. Vote for Susanna Johnson!

  2. No, they are not Johnson’s PACS. They are two national PACS closely associated with the Democratic Party. They are also nonregistered in Washington State. You can read the complete article in the Nov. 4 Lynnwood Times.

  3. I believe that this article is a testament to the strength of Sheriff Fortney’s personal integrity.

    He, on behalf of his campaign, was forthcoming and transparent in this situation. Two qualities that I value greatly. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that he came out publicly to acknowledge this issue. I know Sheriff Fortney to be true servant leader and a straight-talker.

    Honestly I wonder if people actually read the article and understand our Judicial system or the Constitution.
    In America just because you are accused of something (e.g.: “concealing”) it doesn’t mean you were actually doing so.
    It’s not uncommon for campaigns to have missteps and as long as they are corrected/addressed, that’s the desired outcome. Which is what je/his campaign did.

    Please don’t buy into the slander-opportunists’ comments.
    We need Sheriff Fortney to be re-elected.
    He’s no politician, he’s downright human and when it comes to public safety, he is the BEST Sheriff for Snohomish County!

    1. You are living in an alternate reality. The investigation clearly established Fortney lied. He is accusing his campaign accountant, but he is the one responsible to assure that his reports are truthful, transparent, and accurate. In this case, because he did not want to give the money back, he made up fake donors. That is called lying.
      In addition, I notice your comment does not address the other egregious decisions and actions he has taken during his term of office, such as failing to properly investigate the use of force against a medical worker walking across the street to catch the bus, who was tackled, knocked to the ground and handcuffed, arrested for resisting arrest, and recently awarded $635,000 in damages. How much more is Fortney going to cost us before you understand he is not the leader, we need for justice and equity in this county? I am retired, law-enforcement. I appealed to you to vote for Susan Johnson. We must have integrity in our law-enforcement agencies and leaders.

      1. Let’s keep it civil, shall we?

        I reviewed the PDC documents and no where in those reports is there a conclusion that supports your false accusation that “The investigation clearly established Fortney lied.”

        That is truly an alternate reality and is a misrepresentation of the facts.
        What was determined was that there were errors made and they were corrected.

        The Fortney campaign hired a new Treasurer based on the issues in order to address/correct them.
        The fact that there was no Primary meant donation limits went from $2000 to $1200 for an individual, played a role. This again, has been corrected.

        No accusation of Fortney lying have been made by the PDC. Please correct your statement and qualify it as your opinion or conjecture.
        All issues have been addressed & corrected.
        Nothing to see here folks.

        Lynnwood Times article for Fortney’s direct responses to the political attacks and lies being circulated.

        https://lynnwoodtimes.com/2023/11/01/sheriff-adam-fortney-231101/

        1. Funny, you chide someone for using the word lie, and then you do exactly that, without evidence defending Fortney and defending Mario Lotmore and his personal GOP advocate project (The Lynwood Times). But I digress. It makes no sense to argue about arguing, so let’s go through what Fortney did step by step. 1. Fortney accepted money that was over the limit of $1200 per person or company. 2. He was notified of the overage, and the law demands that he return the money. 3. Instead of returning the money, Fortney altered and resubmitted his reporting documents indicating the overage portion of money came from different people. 4. The PDC found those people indicated in his reports were not officers of a company they were supposed to be of, and the address submitted did not exist. Fortney was notified by complaint again, and instructed to correct the errors, which he said he would. 5. Fortney ultimately gave the money back, not to the “NEW” donors, but rather to the “ORIGINAL” donors. 6. This clearly shows the reporting of the “NEW” donors was not true. SUMMARY: Please explain how this is NOT a lie? I would posit further, it is not only a campaign finance violation, but knowingly submitting false documentation may also be fraud, which would explain why Fortney signed the document rather than have a hearing.

  4. When is the last time any of you saw an ad for a Washington state county sheriff on national television? I do not ever recall (course I could have missed it) and yet Fortney’s campaign is spending money on national ads that I have seen on MSNBC. Sure they are probably targeted to Snohomish County viewers. Seems like a lot of money – can’t imagine how much it costs to run an ad on a national cable network. I wouldn’t vote for the guy even if he hadn’t run those ads. Not fit to be sheriff as someone else here said. Indeed.

    1. Local cable TV companies sell advertising that gets inserted Into national cable channel programming. Those ads don’t get seen beyond Snohomish County, and they are priced accordingly.

      1. I understand that Roger. I know they aren’t seen outside of Snohomish County. I’m just surprised to see campaign ads for Snohomish County Sheriff. And to be fair (though I am NOT in favor of Fortney), I saw an ad today on some cable channel for Susanna Johnson. So yes, I do know it’s targeted to Snohomish County. I just don’t remember seeing t.v. ads for a far west coast county sheriff before. Maybe I have blanked it out as I get so sick of t.v. ads during the what now seems to be 12 months a year, forever, political season.

  5. Mud slinging is in full swing.
    Let’s not allow Bad underwear here. We don’t want King County’s mess “creeping” up here into SnoCo county.

    Business owners that have had heavy losses from thefts and drug dealing on their door steps are working with Sheriff Fortney and his teams especially along 128th in south Everett keeping the public safer.
    Fortney’s Teens Mentoring Teens program has helped teens get turned around, off drugs and get jobs.

    Many police groups that are fighting crime daily support Sheriff Fortney.
    That’s Boots-on-the-ground bi-partisan support.

    His opponent is an extreme progressive, and that’s evidenced by her endorsements, out of state PAC money and one sided partisanship. I’m not against unions, but almost every union supports her even the one that supports the new, Long-Term Care tax.

    Sheriff Fortney kept us safe during Covid by keeping the jail open. That’s public safety.

    Democrat and Republican leaders support public safety. Here is a short video dealing with some of the mess and public safety issues.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPQrwAxznzA

    Accountability with compassion is the way to care for everyone and keep us safe.

    1. The reason why police unions support Fortney is because his number one priority is that his deputies be protected from any form of accountability. He has publicly stated his conviction that officers should have 100% unfettered discretion and decision making. As for the jail, there have been three deaths in the last month, and several overdoses from fentanyl. I have worked in jails before, I know jail procedures, to keep drugs out of a jail, and his officers there are clearly not doing their job. And do I need to even mention his welcoming greeting to the proud boys up and Snohomish, putting his arm around them, and posing for a photo, or his invitation to have constitutional sheriff Mark Lamb, an extremist from Arizona, come here to raise funds for his campaign? Face reality.

    2. Sheriff Fortney refused to implement stay-at-home orders (ie., re Covid) set out by the governor. Also, upon his election to the position, he re-instated the 3 deputies that had been fired by the former sheriff for cause. Further, when you say “We don’t want….”, what “we” are you referring to? I assume you mean yourself? And I have no idea what “let’s not allow Bad underwear” here even means. What I really remember about Fortney is the reinstatment of at least 3 deputies. Those deputies were members of Fortney’s patrol squad and supporters of his campaign according to news reports. There are plenty of reported articles one can find on the internet to support any particular person. Some people fully support Fortney. Some do not and fully support Johnson. That’s what freedom of choice and the vote is about. One or the other of them will win. I hope it is Johnson. I speak only for myself, no group, defined or not. Just me. I’m also not asking anyone to hold back on or temper their remarks. That’s what the moderator here does.

  6. I’m so glad the election is Tuesday! Where do you people get off call Our Sheriff the names in previous posts? Have you even met the man? Have you even met his opponent? Didn’t think so!

    1. They want far left Prosecutors and Sheriffs to turn our system upside down and degrade the rule of law.

      1. No actually we want the rule of law fairly applied based on evidence and community accountability. And we don’t want the poor and the unsheltered targeted for arrest, so he can trumpet that he is a crime fighter.
        Wait until it is your son or daughter, who is stopped by a deputy and arrested for any number of offenses and put in jail and see how you feel about who your law-enforcement leader is. Don’t think it could happen? Does your son or daughter drive? Go out in public? Of course it could happen. Integrity is everything. Where I come from, if a sworn officer lies, his career is over. Apparently, that is not the case in Washington state. But we cannot have a leader who lies.

  7. Choosing a person who’s job gives him or her a license to shoot you or inflict bodily harm on you. under certain circumstances, is a pretty serious decision to make. I looked at both candidates’ record of actual actions on the job, past positions of responsibility, and stated plans for running the Sheriff’s office and I voted for the one I would trust the most if he or she had to shoot me or physically bring me under arrest. The rest of this just seems like background noise and posturing to me and not much use for election decision making.

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