Seattle election law requires independent groups backing a candidate to clearly state that they're not working for for their candidate of choice.
The Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) violated that disclosure rule when it ran a full-page ad in the Seattle Times blasting City Attorney Pete Holmes, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) found. SPOG has agreed to pay $750 in a settlement with SEEC director Wayne Barnett, according to a copy of the settlement document.
SPOG, which backed Holmes' losing opponent Scott Lindsay, shelled out $8,600 for the ad, which called Holmes "anti-labor" and "pathetically weak on crime." But the page, published in a Sunday edition of the Times did not include mandatory language noting that no one running for office authorized the ad. SPOG did, however, include a logo in the bottom right corner of the ad spelling out the union's name. The union also turned in its report of the expenditure three days late, according to the settlement.
Barnett said independent expenditure groups rarely gloss over this particular disclosure rule. He added that the SEEC sought a lower fine, rather than the maximum $5,000, because SPOG included its logo in the ad.
"This was not a case where there was an effort to conceal who was paying for the ads," Barnett said. "To me this was more about deterrence than punishing them."
Both parties signed the settlement earlier this month.
SPOG president Kevin Stuckey could not be reached by cell phone. We will update this post if he responds.