Earlier this year, on the first day candidates could file to run campaigns, Municipal Court Judge Fred Bonner says he got a phone call. It was Ed McKenna, an assistant city prosecutor who had just filed to run for an open seat on the bench. McKenna was having reservations, Bonner says, because McKenna told him that “he had not been receiving that kind of support that he thought he would from the defense [attorneys] group.”

That defense group made McKenna another proposal, Bonner recounts. “McKenna indicated that he would receive financial support from a defense group if he decided to run against Judge Edsonya Charles,” he says. As it happened, McKenna did switch shortly thereafter to challenge Charles.

This account may add credence to a complaint—which names Bonner and cites this conversation—with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission claiming that Citizens for Judicial Excellence (CJE), a campaign run and funded by DUI attorneys, recruited McKenna and engaged in illegal coordination with his campaign. State law prohibits independent-expenditure campaigns from coordinating with the candidates they intend to support, particularly with money.

However, unlike the allegation in the complaint, Bonner insists that the DUI attorneys' PAC wasn't named specifically in the conversation. “He did not say CJE,” Bonner says, but he adds, “I took that to mean that he was referencing the DUI organization, but he did not state that.”

Bonner says, “I was somewhat of [McKenna's] unofficial advisor and I was trying to get him to file for one of open positions.”

I have calls in to McKenna and CJE spokeswoman Patricia Fulton and will update this post when I hear back.